Training Children: Edify not Traumatize

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Last week the world was informed of the bizarre actions of a Missouri family. They had their six-year-old son kidnapped to teach him a lesson about “stranger danger.” During the four hour kidnapping the boy was physically and emotionally traumatized. I am a parent of four children and I understand and entirely advocate the need to teach children to be safe. However, you do not train children with trauma as a teaching method. This is not how the Bible suggests we train children.

Children are a gift and heritage (Psalm 127:3-5), but they do need shaping and guidance (Psalm 144:12). Correct pedagogy occurs in the confines of how God designed the parent-child relationship.  Here is a summary of Scripture’s definition of the parent-child relationship.

Parent Relationship to Child

  • Parents are responsible for teaching their children (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
  • Parents must train their children (Proverbs 22:6)
  • Children need loving discipline (Ephesians 6:4)
  • Children need a worthy example (2 Timothy 1:5, 2 Chronicles 26:3-4)

Child Relationship to Parents

  • Children are to honor their parents (Exodus 20:12)
  • Children are to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20)
  • Children are to learn from their parents (Proverbs 1:8)
  • Children are to provide for their needy parents (1 Timothy 5:4)

Training about life and, more importantly, God is the responsibility of the parent. Parents are not to delegate or abdicate this responsibility to others, whether it be school, government, or the church. It is critical (even commanded in Deuteronomy 6:4-9) that parents demonstrate fidelity to God, transfer wisdom to children, and bring teaching and training into everyday life. Equally important is to conduct the training and teaching in an environment that edifies rather than traumatizes the child (Ephesians 6:4).

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