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Train Up a Child: How we harm our children

The Bible tells us that children are a gift from God. When this gift first arrives, we are all excited at the precious little miracle and have high hopes of he/she becoming the perfect adult. However, as the little bundle grows into a demanding individual, we are tempted to lose our original intentions of raising a perfect child and may begin pulling away and even resenting the intrusion on our own pleasure and self-fulfillment.

As children grow, we tend to become confused. It isn’t as much fun as we thought it would be to have a child. There seems to be a constant demand on our time and energy. We begin to do things that are harmful to children as we draw back from our responsibilities of raising the God-given gift as the giver intended. Many times, we do things that harm a child while having good intentions. Following are some things that we do that I believe harm children:

§  Neglect to step in when a child needs instruction. (Children are left wondering what to do.)

§  Think that all children should have fun all the time. (Fun does not develop character. Hardships develop character.)

§  Let a child always do what he/she wants to do. (Children need boundaries for security.)

§  Substitute things for time. (Time with parents is far more valuable than things that money can buy.)

§  Give a child all the freedom he/she wants. (Children learn self-discipline by obeying rules.)

§  Over-discipline a child. (Children learn by suffering consequences of the decisions they make. Sometimes we need to let children make their own decisions and suffer the results. Experience is the best teacher.)

§  Stepping in and rescuing a child from the consequences of a decision the child has made. (We become enablers by letting the child think that whatever he/she does, we will always bail him/her out.

§  Letting a child eat whatever and whenever he/she wants. (The body needs proper nutrition to function well. Parents should see that a child eats healthy foods. (Soda is not a healthy food!)

§  Letting a child talk so as to dominate conversations. (Children need to learn to listen to others and respect the opinions of others.)

§  Insisting that a child be promoted in school when that child has not mastered the skills of the grade level he/she is in. (Children just get in deeper and deeper, become frustrated, and develop low self-esteem.)

§  Not seeing to it that children have chores to do to contribute to the family. (Children need to learn that things in life should be earned and most are not free.)


These are a few things we can watch out for as we raise our most cherished gifts—our children. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but each of us can strive to improve our parenting skills. Children are a real pleasure if they learn to live as Christ would have them live, but children who are neglected and left to their own desires seldom are a pleasure to be around. Proverbs 23:24 tells us that, “The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him.”  

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