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How to Make Your Child Successful

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
It is futile to try to teach our children until they have obediently submitted to our authority.

Family Counseling Ministries -

Children are a blessing and a gift from God. Most Christian parents desire to build scriptural convictions into their children’s lives, but many mothers and fathers do not know how to raise their sons and daughters in the nurture of the Lord. In the first part of an eleven-article series on parenting, Dr. Dunlap offers practical suggestions for training up children in the way they should go—not the way they want to go.


Children are a gift from the Lord. When God entrusts children to mothers and fathers, He holds us accountable for teaching our sons and daughters about salvation, and sanctification—how to grow every day in their relationship with Jesus Christ.


Most Christian parents desire to build scriptural convictions into the lives of their children, but many parents do not know how to carry out the command of Ephesians 6:4,

Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.


Many Christian parents are searching for practical suggestions that would help them teach their children spiritual truths.


We find yet another challenge for parents in Colossians 1:28,

And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man, and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ.


How do we teach our children in such a way that we can be confident they will ultimately be complete in Christ Jesus? What practical steps must we take as parents to fulfill our God-given responsibilities?

First, no parent can teach a disobedient, unruly child. Until we establish firm, loving boundaries in the child’s life, and teach him or her to obey, we cannot accomplish the task of teaching him or her godly convictions. As parents, our number one priority is to learn and implement the biblical principles for lovingly subduing a child’s will, and properly disciplining him or her.


We should not frustrate ourselves by trying to teach a child until he or she has obediently submitted to our authority.


Every program of child training must be goal-oriented instruction. Dr. Howard Hendricks has often said, “If you aim at nothing, you’re sure to hit it every time.” Someone else has wisely noted, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”


Many parents, who do not have clear child-rearing goals in mind, unwittingly raise their children to be dependent upon them. The most important goal for a Christian parent, however, is to raise a child who depends upon the faithfulness of God.


God charges parents with the responsibility of training up children in the way they should go—not in the way they want to go.


As Christian parents, we want the very best for our children. We want them to be successful. God’s Word tells us that the only way to experience a truly successful life is to walk in obedience to the Lord. The writer of Romans 5:12 confirms that our children all have sin natures, and therefore, must be taught how to obey God:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.


There are many different ways for parents to teach children, as Scripture commands them to. Everyday life situations often provide opportunities for teaching. We read a reminder to mothers and fathers in Deuteronomy 6:7 to take advantage of teachable moments as they present themselves throughout the course of every day. The first teachable moment of the day is when children “riseup.


It is a good idea to try to wake up a few minutes earlier three mornings each week to conduct a brief Family Worship and then build from there.


The second opportunity for teaching referred to in this verse is when they “lie down.” When we tuck them in bed at night, it is a good idea to read a short children’s Bible story and pray with them. We have yet another teaching moment when our children “sit in their house.” As we share family mealtimes together, we might take turns telling each other how God led and protected us during that day. Finally, we can teach our children when they “walk by the way.” When we ride in the car, or take family walks, we could perhaps listen to Bible tapes or memorize Scripture together.


God honors every parent’s efforts to teach his or her children the necessary biblical truths and principles for living effective Christian lives.

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