Category Archives: Child Rearing

One-size-fits-all approach to parenting children

My knowledge of Bill Gothard and his seminars is very limited. I was unaware of his popularity until my college years. But I did occasionally hear a pastor voice concern about his influence on his church. Apparently, his teaching was helpful in some ways but also overly simplistic in others.

Among other things, the following article gives some general warnings about Gothard’s one-size-fits-all solutions to child training. Whether you are familiar with his teaching or not, it would be helpful to consider some of the thoughts in this article. If nothing else, the two paragraphs about spanking children are worth consideration.

God’s Father Solution

During the last few years, there has been an increase in violent crime, including mass shootings by angry, young men. The proposed solution to these problems range from outlawing guns, spending more money on mental health, and looking at the effect of violent movies and video games. Others have looked at problems in the home. But few have offered real solutions.

This article brings up some good points about the need for fathers. He basically says that young men often have problems when they don’t have a father in the home. The loving care of a father and mother are important to the proper training of a young person. But this article leaves out answers to two important questions.

  1. Why are fathers not in the home?

It seems to me that many people, men and women, are trapped in the “intimacy without commitment” idea. The enjoyment of what God intended for one man and one woman during marriage (Heb. 13:4) has been replaced with self-indulgent pleasure with no responsibility or commitment. When an unintended child results from a moment of pleasure, it is often considered unwanted and abortable, and those who are allowed to live are often avoided by the father because he wasn’t intending for a child to result in the first place. The child then becomes a burden to him and an extra burden to the mother who raises the child without the father’s help.

The solution is for men and women to see the value of waiting for sexual intimacy until marriage. This is the way God intended for things to work. In the beginning, God stated that it was not good for the man to be alone (Gen. 2:18-25). His solution was marriage. One man and one woman were committed to each other and enjoyed the intimacy where God intended it to be … in a committed marriage relationship.

  1. What kind of fathers are needed?

The article mentions the need for fathers in the home and notes that many bad results have been documented from young men who had no father. While it is true that the lack of a father in the home is not best, the idea doesn’t address what kind of father is needed in the home. Is the need for a father so important that a drunken, abusive, or drug addicted man should be given access to their children? No, there are some scenarios when removing the father may be best.

However, if having a father in the home is God’s design and is part of the solution to our current societal problems, we should also figure out what kind of fathers are best in the home. God gives several ideas about this. First, the father should love his wife (Eph. 5:25; 1 Cor. 7:2-3). The man who loves his wife will be a good example for his sons to follow. He should also be a leader in the home (Eph. 5:22-24). This is not an abusive type of leadership as it is compared to the way Jesus is the head of the Church. When the father shows good and godly leadership in the home, the sons will see how to be a loving leader.

The last characteristic I will mention is from Ephesians 6:4. God doesn’t want fathers who provoke their children to become angry. Fathers who mock their children or push their buttons can cause their children to become resentful and angry. That can lead to angry outbursts outside the home and lead to fighting and violence. The opposite of this is giving the child a biblical worldview (Prov. 3:5-6; Deut. 6:1-9). How does God want him to think, speak, and act? How should he respond when someone wants to fight? What should he do when tempted to sin? A godly father will train his children in God’s ways as they are best.


The world is full of needy sons who need a godly father and mother in the home. This is God’s design for success. When the husband and wife love each other, love their children, and the family follows God’s advice for the home, there is a much better “chance” that things will go better. Why? God created us, knows what is best, and wants what is best for us.

Heart Issue

In Matthew 15, Jesus denounces the Pharisees who have honored Him with their lips while their hearts were far from Him. Jesus censures them as people who wash the outside of the cup while the inside is still unclean. Yet this is what we often do in childrearing. We demand changed behavior and never address the heart that drives the behavior.

Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, (Wapwallopen WA: Shepherd Press, 1995), 5.

Deuteronomy, Parents, and Children

The book I am currently reading gives a lot of good advice, but I’ve noticed that a whole chapter can go by without any reference to the Scriptures. So, I began a search today regarding “children” using What I found was a firm placement of responsibility on the parents for their children’s future attitudes and allegiances. Consider the following principles:

  1. Keeping myself right is as important as teaching my children (Deut. 4:8-10; 6:4-6).
  2. My attitude toward God will affect my children (Deut. 4:39-40; 5:29).
  3. Every conversation should point my children to the Lord (Deut. 6:4-9).
  4. Requiring my children to obey God’s laws will lead them to a better life (Deut. 32:45-47).

If I want my children to have a heart for the Lord, it is up to me to lead them in that direction. That will take personal preparation, communication with my wife, prayer for us all, and time for instruction. While it may take extra time, the end result will definitely be worthwhile.

Family Jail

The mother who as a guest in another home allowed her little four-year-old son to gouge holes in the leather seats of six new chairs while the hostess was out preparing tea probably thought she would warp his creative instincts if she laid a hand on him. But the hostess, when she saw the depredation, could have laid a hand on him with a clear conscience. And if someone doesn’t soon, the law will behind gray walls. In all justice, of course, the mother should be put in with him. It isn’t fair for parents to prepare their children for jail and then let them go alone.

Richard S. Taylor, The Disciplined Life, (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1962), 81.

Thoughtful Submission

When the children were young, they needed to learn to obey without questioning why because they were not mature enough to make wise decisions. But now that they are growing older, they need to develop their own understanding of why certain actions are inappropriate. They need to learn to think through situations so that they can make good choices when we are not there to guide them. The same is true of Christians and submission to authority. While God calls us to submit to authority (Rom. 13:1-5), we also need to discern when authority is correct in demanding our obedience.

The Christian, of course, must make sure he does not confuse such subordination to imposed discipline with blind unthinking submission to the wishes and options of everyone around him. … Even that submission which Christian wives are to manifest toward unsaved husbands, and which is an acid test of the wife’s spiritual maturity, is not to be interpreted as requiring obedience to demands which violate her conscience as a Christian. … [Christians] must learn to draw the line before proper assimilation of imposed discipline becomes extinction of private thinking and personal initiative.

Richard S. Taylor, The Disciplined Life, (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1962), 45.

Our Lord Jesus and the apostles taught submission to the government, but even they saw their need to disobey when what was demanded was not in line with what God required for them to do. Think of Peter and John’s civil disobedience to the wishes of the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:1-22). They didn’t intentionally look for ways to disobey their government. But at the same time, they thought through their “act of disobedience” and saw that their loyalty to God’s command required disobedience to what the government was then requiring. In the end, each of us has to learn both to submit to authority and to think through each action.


See also my earlier post on Civil Disobedience