Parent-Child Relations that Promote Spiritual Health

The influence of environment on the development of children is beyond dispute. Children pick up signals that contribute to forming their personality and approach to life. So why do we need another article on how the environment influences children?

Frankly, many people overlook some of the most important sources of influence on children by ignoring details of how children are influenced. Communication patterns and habits of parents, siblings and friends have tremendous influence on how children relate to others in school, church and life. Parents of preschoolers and small children need to understand that how their children relate to others may be a clear reflection of how they as parents relate to their children.

1. Relate positively.

Parents who respond positively, warmly and with affirmation in general help children develop positive relational skills.

2. Relate biblically.

The Bible teaches that we are to bring up children with appropriate instruction and guidance.

3. Relate playfully.

Playful interaction between parents and children provided a positive foundation for discovering how to develop positive social relationships with peers. This was especially true in homes where the father spent time playing with children.

4. Relate emotionally.

Encouraging children to express emotions properly tells them that we as parents support and affirm the child's feelings. What they learn at home is transferred into their relationships with peers.

5. Relate independently.

Children need to develop independence. Teaching children to develop personal skills of autonomy, self-control and appropriate ways to express themselves is vital for social well-being.

6. Relate socially.

Establishing social relationships that include our children provide another avenue of positive social adjustment. Including our children when possible in social functions allows them to observe and learn how to function effectively in social settings.

7. Relate lovingly.

Children whose parents exerted appropriate authority and parental structure and discipline were less likely to demonstrate deviant behavior in school and other social circumstances.

God created the family not only to function as a context for having children; raising children appropriately was part of God's instruction. The Ten Commandments were more than a legal structure for a nation. God intended these to be a structure for family development as well, teaching how children should behave first in their families. God's plan for us today is that we maintain a proper balance between structure and relationships, with fathers leading the way in setting the social environment of the home.

Richard E. Dodge is a former editor in Leadership and Adult Publishing, LifeWay Church Resources.

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