Advice for parenting young kids

Pastor Steve McCoy has some fantastic advice for parents of young kids. It’s a list of 24 practical ways in which you can raise your kids well. For example, here’s number four:

Teach *First Time Obedience* | When Dad or Mom says do it, they do it. We are the parents. They are kids. Why is this important? Do you want them to obey God the first time, or to put it off? Also, if they don’t obey us there are often major consequences in the future. Sometimes if they don’t obey there are major consequences in the very near future. Example: We taught our children to *stop* when we say stop. We didn’t chase them around at parties or baseball games or at the park. We say stop, they were taught to stop or face discipline. One of our kids was bad about running through parking lots on the way in to a store. Our *first time obedience* teaching probably saved his life or at least bodily harm more than once. But the everyday, simple things will create disciplined & respectful kids. It will also shock people around you and create opportunities to talk about why your parenting “works.”

My pastor once had one child ask for a chip (adults were eating chips) and he said “Ok.” Another of his children overheard and came over and asked for a chip. He said “No.” The child, without hesitation, said “ok” and walked away. My pastor then told him to return and explained how happy he was that he was willing to trust him and obey even when it seemed unfair, and then gave him a chip. That’s the power of this one rule when taught consistently.

ALSO, don’t use the counting rule. When you count you are telling your kids they can delay obedience. “Johnny, get your coat on. Johnny! One…twooooo…” Not obeying now is disobedience. Period. Well, almost period…

The rest of this list is really wise, helpful counsel. I highly recommend that you take the time to read it. You can do so here.

(HT: Justin Taylor)


  • Joe Blankenship


    Posted this at the author’s blog but thought I’d share my thoughts here as well.

    Appreciate your comments – Some very good advice in the article. I particularly think your comments on respectful disagreement and pre event conversations are great. All of the comments are good and mixed with what I think (along with Steve12) are just some cultural preferences. I am the father of 11 kids – the youngest is 11. 9 biological and 2 adopted – all are involved in serving the Lord and seem to be going hard after him. We’ve sought the Lord’s help – realize their response to the Lord is grace and tried to be faithful to make Jesus the greatest treasure of our lives and His church the great reality that the family pictures.

    First time obedience ought to be the goal and expectation for our children and discipline with a rod or “spanking” is wise and right – but it is a means of grace if it is rooted in love. The best parenting advice I ever received was “love your children more”. “Keep loving more.” They most need to know we love them. I John says, “We love because He first loved us.” Our children will love with heart obedience (the only kind that has any eternal value)as they become convinced of God’s love. They most often see His love first in our love for them.

    I know a lot of parents use the technique you describe in point 4 of creating difficult obedience scenarios of obedience for your children to show others how well trained they are but I don’t see that in the character of God and I wander if that isn’t closer to provoking our children. I thought this way at times and now regret it. It seems the opportunities God gives me for obedience are rooted in what is wise, right and good.

    Thanks again for the advice and encouragement to parents.

  • Don Johnson

    There is one big aspect that he never discussed. The goal in raising kids is so that when they reach 18 (the age of being considered an adult), they actually have a good grasp of what it means to think and act as an adult.

    This goal is important as there is a continual “letting go” as a parent, as we want our kids to grow up and become responsible for themselves. As an infant, we are 100% responsible for them, if we (or some other caretaker) does not take care of them they will die, but they will gain competencies and our goal should be when they are 18 for them to be 100% responsible for themselves. This includes being responsible for choosing their faith, as God has many children but no grandchildren.

  • Joe Blankenship

    There are a lot of philosophies of parenting – “parent centered”; “child-centered”; “home-centered” with goals to create obedient children – the ability to be productive adult citizens, etc. We parent “salvifically” – by that I mean the goal of our parenting is in hopes of seeing God break through in marvelous grace to change the hearts of our children to love and treasure Christ above all and to manifest that life change through a life of love to others. I am amazed at how many “Christian” parenting efforts treat the salvation of our children as “a” component of parenting – when if everything else is done well and they perish in hell rejecting the Savior I love – no matter what I believe about the Sovereign work of God (and I do believe that completely) – it is impossible to feel that my parenting efforts were blessed by God.

    I desperately need my parenting efforts to be blessed by God – to have His expressions of grace so that my children see the gospel as real and the God of the gospel as highly esteemed. There is nothing more important in parenting, in my estimation, than living out the reality of my faith. And if a young parent says – Yea – but give me something practical.” I tell them – there is nothing more practical than the gospel – loving God and loving others and living for heaven and believing His promises and trusting Him constantly to be Savior. Battles in the home, like everywhere else, are won or lost by faith. Am I trusting and obeying “Joshua” = the Lord saves or looking for salvation wherever I can get it?

    Hope this encourages young parents. It is a treasured and high gift of God to have children to love and show Jesus to.

  • Scott McDonald

    I’ve a question – I’m not from the USA – but is corporal punishment allowed in the home in the USA? Is it subject to state law, with limits? Is it common or generally frowned upon? Thanks in advance.

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