1. Replace the TV with good books.
Christianity is based on a book, and reading comprehension is one of the most important skills that a child can develop. To encourage a greater love for reading, TV viewing should be strictly limited with very few exceptions - even to the point of the parents not watching anything until after the children are in bed.
2. Teach your boys to be tough and your girls to be chaste.
This world spends billions of dollars teaching boys to be soft and girls to be forward. As a Christian parent, it is imperative that you actively combat this influence by teaching your son to endure hardness (II Timothy 2:3) and your daughter to be chaste and discreet (Titus 2:5).
3. Pay attention to your environment.
The adult brain has developed patterns by which it filters the information that you receive from the environment around you. That's why different people will notice different things about the same environment. Your child, however, does not have this filter. His brain does not know which information is important and which is not. Thus, your child's brain will absorb something like the cursing of the person in line next to you at the same priority level as it absorbs your instruction to stand still. It is imperative that you remain aware of your environment and act as a filter on your child's behalf.
4. Take advantage of every opportunity for your child to participate in the church service.
A significant portion of every child's education consists of training him to be able to present himself and his message well in public. You can give your child a head start in this portion of his education by getting him involved in singing, playing an instrument, giving a testimony or even preaching in front of the church congregation.
5. Force your child to dress appropriately for church.
When I was a young boy, I used to be amazed that none of my friends were required to wear a collared shirt and slacks to church. Then as a pre-teen, I was amazed that they weren't required to wear a tie, and as a young man, I wondered why none of them wore suits to church. Now, as a man in my thirties, I can look back and understand. The same young boys who wore baggy jeans and untucked shirts to church when I was young are still wearing baggy jeans and untucked shirts to church as adults. If you want your child to dress well for church services when he is grown, then you must train him to dress well when he is young.
6. Read books to your child.
Hearing you read will help your child develop a larger vocabulary, improve his grammar and perfect his speech patterns. Plus, if you proceed with him through a lengthy book by reading small sections every day, he will learn the value of persistently returning to a task until the job is done.
7. Use Halloween as an opportunity to teach your child how to be in the world but not of the world.
Many of today's Christians look for reasons to take part in the frenzy of candy and costumes that surrounds the celebration of Halloween. Very few recognize that this is a desire to be part of the world. Instead of celebrating Halloween, you should teach your child the joy of denying worldly pleasure in order to reap greater rewards in Heaven.
8. Remember that you were given your child for the purpose of training him to serve God.
Most people focus on (and argue about) the second half of Proverbs 22:6 while completely ignoring the instruction provided in the first half. God did not give you your child so that you could be his closest friend or that the two of you could have a good time together or that you could provide him with toys and games. God gave you your child so that you could train him to serve his Creator.
9. Listen to Bible verses put to music.
Memorizing Scripture can be as simple as listening to a CD of Bible verses on a regular basis. Here are a few links where you can find Scripture Songs as either free downloads or on CD's for purchase. You should probably get all of them.
10. Decorate with the letters of the alphabet.
As early in your child's life as possible, you should decorate his room with all the letters of the alphabet. These can be placed randomly around the room no more than two feet above the floor. As your child begins to crawl around the room and explore, you can teach him the names of the letters and their sounds. Then, as he becomes more mobile, you can challenge him with "find the letter..." games which can progress into "find the letter that says..." and finally into "find the letters in order."
11. Don't micro-manage your child's life.
God asks parents both to command and to instruct their children. To command is to require complete obedience in a particular area. To instruct is to point in the right direction while allowing liberty to decide one's own path. If you want you child to clean his room, for example, you should command him to clean his room and then provide instruction as needed until the job is done.
12. Use the King James Version.
Regardless of your opinion of the validity of the King James Version as a translation, the simple fact remains that this particular version of the Bible has had more influence on the writings and actions of the past 400 years than all the other books in the world combined. If you want your child to properly understand the past 400 years of history, then you must immerse him in the King James Version of the Bible.
13. Do everything you can to show your child that missionaries are the real heroes of this world.
As a Christian parent, you should have your child pray for, write to, send gifts to and spend time with missionaries on a regular basis. He should know that these people are willing to give up everything to serve the Lord, but he should also know that he would be tremendously blessed to have a life even half as full of the things that God gives them in return.
14. Set aside time every day to help your child memorize Scripture.
When it comes to memorizing Scripture, most parents are aware of the benefits presented in Psalm 119:9 and 11, but there are many additional promises associated with the memorization of and meditation on the Word of God. A few of my personal favorites are found in Psalm 119:98-100: "Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts."
15. Teach your child the value of things that are free.
Many people today think of things as having a value equal to the amount that they paid for them, but you should teach your child that the things which he has have a value equal to the cost of replacing them. This can begin with birthday and Christmas presents and other gifts, but it should lead him to consider even more valuable gifts like freedom and even his own soul.
16. Get involved in the "behind the scenes" aspects of the church.
None of us knows what role the Lord desires for our children to fill in the church when they become adults, but it is almost certain that at some point in their lives, they will be more of a blessing to others if they are already familiar with the duties of a church janitor. You should prepare your child to be a blessing in this way by having him do things like clean the restrooms, set up chairs for Sunday School, clean up after a fellowship, mow the grass and etc...
17. Teach your child when and how to fight.
The Baptist churches have historically been divided on the issue of pacifism, but a view encompassing the past 2,000 years of church history reveals that it was those Baptists who were willing to take up arms in defense of their families and friends who had the greatest impact on the world around them. The same is true in your child's life as well. It is the child who stands up to the bully that has the greatest influence on those around him.
18. Get involved in a cause.
David's question when learning that no one would stand up to Goliath is just as apropos today as it was then. Every child needs to be given a cause for which to fight.
19. Display educational posters in your home.
Parents can shop at teacher supply stores too. If you would like for your child to do better in a particular subject, take a trip down to the nearest teacher supply store and buy a few posters in that subject that you think would appeal to your child. These can be displayed on the walls of his room, and you will be surprised at how much he learns just by being confronted with them every day.
20. Keep your child with you in the church service.
I realize that this is a very controversial issue, but I think that it is generally best for parents to keep their children with them in the service rather than sending them to a children's service. Having your child with you in the service provides opportunities for training him in how he should behave in the house of God. My concern with children's services is that they set the wrong expectations. The child begins to prefer a service with fun and games, and finds himself dissatisfied when he is eventually considered old enough to join the more somber assembly of adults.
21. Avoid public schooling like the plague.
Your child is always observing and learning from his environment. How many times have you walked through the same grocery store that you've shopped at for years only to have your child ask you about something in the store that you had never noticed before? Your child is always learning from his environment, and placing him in an environment that is hostile to godliness will teach him to be ungodly as well.
22. Use big words often.
God designed your child to learn his vocabulary from those around him. Therefore, if you use small words and "baby talk" your child will develop a very limited vocabulary. But if you speak to him with complex words and proper sentence structure, your child will develop a mature vocabulary that will be a help to him throughout his life.
23. Teach your child history.
Modern education seems to focus primarily on math and science. These are important subjects to learn, but teaching history is specifically endorsed throughout the Bible in passages such as Deuteronomy 32:7, Psalm 44:1, Psalm 78:4, Isaiah 46:9 and many others.
24. Take long walks together.
Walking with your child gives you opportunities to discuss a wide variety of topics that will help him in life. You will be amazed by the number of subjects that will come up -- everything from soil erosion to howitzers with several important life lessons in between.
25. Provide your child with several large maps.
Maps are great learning tools. They teach geography, history, phonetics, geometry and much more. Plus, you don't want your child to be one of those people who can't get themselves home without a GPS.
26. Ensure that your child understands the meaning of the word "No."
Understanding this word is one of the most important aspects of child training, and you should take advantage of every opportunity to use it correctly in the life of your young child. In fact, it may even be helpful to purposefully create opportunities to test your child's understanding of this word and correct him if he gets it wrong.
27. Teach your child to make his own decisions and to stick with them.
Even before your child can talk, you can teach him how to live with his decisions by offering him a choice between two drinks such as milk or juice at every meal and requiring him to drink whichever one he chooses first. Then, as he grows older, you can give him more and more choices until he is making his own thoughtful decisions out of sheer habit.
28. Teach your child to write thank you notes.
Even a two year old can write a squiggle for his name, and teaching him to do this at an early age will help him develop a lifelong habit of gratitude.
29. Never give childish answers to your child's questions.
Children ask questions in order to establish how they should act. Modern children are constantly being indoctrinated with false ideologies, and when they ask you about them, it is imperative that you respond with an honest and logical answer that they can use to defend themselves against the lies of this world.
30. Hang out with your child at the church.
Children usually grow to appreciate those things which they associate with fond memories, so you should take every opportunity to spend quality time with your child on church property. If the church has a playground, take your child there on Saturdays. If your church has picnic tables, eat a meal there. If your church has a gymnasium, go there to teach your child to play basketball. Spend as much time together on church property as possible, and watch as your child begins to think of the church as part of his home.
31. Show your child how to recognize equivocations.
Most jokes are built around an equivocation in which a word is used with two different meanings. Telling these jokes and explaining to your child how they work is a great way to prepare him to stand strong in the face of false doctrines, for many false doctrines are also built on equivocations.
32. Teach your child to play the piano.
Good music is very logical and orderly, and learning to play good music teaches your child how to conform his actions to a system of logic other than his own.
33. Discuss theological topics with your spouse in your child's presence.
Telling your child to read his Bible every day doesn't do near as much for him as demonstrating for him that his parents are familiar enough with the Bible to carry on lengthy and deep theological conversations. Every child desires to take part in the conversations of his parents, and that motivation is strong enough to spur him into studies that he never would have considered on his own.
34. Teach your child to play chess.
Strategy board games like chess provide a safe opportunity for your child to learn from his own experience. It is much better for him to learn the value of planning ahead by losing a chess game than it is for him to learn that same lesson by losing a limb in a car accident.
35. Attend every church service faithfully.
There are many factors causing Christian young people to abandon their faith, but the factor which I have seen have the most direct influence is parental church attendance. If a parent occasionally misses church because it is too inconvenient for him, he should not be surprised if his grown children only occasionally attend church when it is convenient for them.
36. If your child pitches a fit in the grocery store, leave your groceries in the aisle and take care of your child's discipline problem.
As a parent, your child's discipline should be your top priority. The groceries can wait, and even if taking time to discipline makes you late for work or an important meeting, neither of those are more important than training your child.
37. Do not child-proof your home; home-proof your child instead.
Training a crawler to stay out of the cabinets makes it so much easier to train a toddler not to open doors which makes it easier to teach a kindergartener to stay out of the road, and by the time your child's a teenager, he'll be so used to staying within the boundaries that you'll rest a whole lot easier at night.
38. Do not allow your child to be subjected to harmful conversations.
This may require you to be bold and request that other people respect your desire to raise your child right and change the topic of conversation, but the Bible warns us that "evil communications corrupt good manners."
39. Focus on history.
It is somewhat challenging to find verses of Scripture which demonstrate the importance of mathematics or science, but it is practically impossible to read the Bible and not realize that God wants us to be students of history.
40. Play classical music and hymns 24/7 in the room(s) where your child spends most of his time.
Listening to classical music helps the brain to develop good patterns of logic. If you start this after your child has already developed a diet for rock, country or CCM, then you will have to force them to listen to it at first; but if you keep at it, their minds will eventually develop a taste for it.
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
Contact Us if you would like to schedule Bill to speak to your church, group, or club.
"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)