By: Didi Bacon

Remember the tongue twister, Peter Piper?

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers?
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

It takes practice, work, and getting over making mistakes to be able to master saying that rhyme with ease.  Just like parenting.  

Parents are given the awesome responsibility to shape the lives of the human beings of the next generation.  Scripture tells us that this is a mandate from God.  Christian parents are given a clear directive regarding their children, to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  (Ephesians 6:4)

In honor of Peter Piper, I have come up with four scripture-based principles for parenting that I hope may encourage you, all beginning with the letter P!

The first is PLAN.

Parents need to have a plan when it comes to rearing children.  The plan’s goal is to answer the simple question – “What kind of adult do we want our child to become?”  At the end of your season of influence with your child what results do you want to see?

Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Child training needs to have a focus, a purpose, a direction, a goal.  Where is your training leading your child?  I find the description of Jesus’ upbringing helpful in determining what our parenting plan needs to be – “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”  (Luke 2:52).  Your parenting plan needs to pursue seeing your child grow physically (stature) and in wisdom (knowledge applied to life with skill).  Your goal in parenting is to bring your child to grow in favor (grace) with God. Godly parents are to introduce your children to Jesus and encourage them to follow Him.  What it means to follow Jesus is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. That is what it means to grow in favor of man. Sounds like learning to love God and to love people!  

What’s your parenting plan?

The second is PROTECT.

It is the role of parents to protect their children from harm.  To protect them from evil.  Evil in the world and the evil that may come from within.  

Proverbs 23 verse 13 and 14 says, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.”  Protecting your child is a tricky thing.  You can’t be too soft, but you can’t be too hard.  A simple principle I recommend is this, if my child is facing a challenge or a threat or an evil that is too great for them to stand against on their own, that is when I need to step up and step in.  So if your 10-year-old boy is being targeted on his phone by pornographers, step in and protect.  If your girl is being bullied by her classmates in 2nd grade, then step in.  If your child is facing odds that they cannot overcome on their own – step in.  

Do you know where your kids are under threat?  Will you stand up and step in to protect them?

The third principle is PREPARE.

Listen to the words of a father to his son:

My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. 

When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. 

For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life…  Proverbs 6:20-23 (NIV)

What is this father saying to his boy?  He is pleading for his boy to heed his life instruction because it will prepare him to navigate life.  More than ever before we have to prepare our children to live counter-culturally.  The push of the machines of this world is after the minds of our children.  If your child is going to be able to stay faithful to God’s Word and live by His Will – you are going to have to prepare her to do it.  You are going to have to equip her with sound thinking and solid grounding in the truth.  You are going to have to encourage her by growing her in her confidence.  You are going to have to enthusiastically walk with her and cheer on as she navigates the complexities of life.  

Are you preparing your children to live for God in this world?

The fourth and final principle is PRAY.

Your children are made in the image of God.  They are prone to temptation and sin just like you.  There is no 100% guarantee that if you do everything right as a godly parent, your child will choose to follow in your footsteps.  That is where parents have to fall to their knees regularly and beseech God’s help.  Parenting children in the Lord, means you have to be walking with the Lord yourself.  Pray, pray, pray for your children.  Pray that they will grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.  Pray that they will be protected from evil.  Pray that you will have the wisdom and courage to prepare them for life.  Pray that the mistakes you make as a parent will be in the right direction.  God has assigned parents to be the greatest influences on children.  

They follow you, are you following Jesus?  Pray.

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding,
To receive instruction in wise behavior,
Righteousness, justice and equity;
To give prudence to the naive,
To the youth knowledge and discretion,
A wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and a figure,
The words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

Fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Proverbs 1:1-7 (NASB)