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Forget Perfect Parenting!

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
We can’t parent perfectly but we can learn to cultivate loving relationships with our children.

Family Counseling Ministries -

Most Christian parents want to raise their children to live lives that please and glorify God. Many parents, however, have serious questions as to how to practically accomplish that goal. In the eighth article of an eleven-part series on parenting, Dr. Dunlap offers many practical suggestions for raising children lovingly and conscientiously.

Parenting is a high calling from God. When He blesses a man and a woman with a child, He entrusts them with a treasured gift. Children need to be loved, hugged, encouraged, admonished, nurtured, and tenderly guided through infancy, childhood and adolescence.

There is no such thing as perfect parenting. Men and women, mothers and fathers all have sin natures. The story of the Prodigal Son underscores the truth that even extraordinary parenting does not necessarily produce a desirable child.


The parable in Luke 15 implies that the father was loving and conscientious. Yet his son rejected his father’s values and left his home to live in open rebellion against him.


Although God gives mothers and fathers no guarantees as to their parenting efforts, there are some helpful practices that Christian parents should cultivate in their relationship with their children. Because many of these suggestions do not come naturally, it is wise to keep this list handy so that you can review it periodically in order to evaluate your progress.

1.     Demonstrate good manners to your children by thanking them for special things they do.

Take the time to thank your children for the artwork they make for you. Comment on how much time they must have invested in it to make it look so nice. Courteously thank your child for any act of kindness he performs, such as bringing you water, for example.  Model before your children, the attributes that you want to see them demonstrate in their own lives.

      2.  Listen carefully when your child wants to talk to you.

Stop what you are doing. Lay your book down, or put your work aside. Give your child your undivided attention. Make eye contact with him or her. Don’t hurry your child, or finish his or her sentences. Allow your child ample time to express himself or herself, and then give affirming feedback.

Children demand a lot of attention and, therefore, we cannot give in to their every attempt to interrupt us. However, a surprisingly few moments of this type of interaction each day, will serve to reassure them that you consider communication with them an important priority.

3.     Give your child some responsibility, and express your  confidence that he or she will be able to accomplish the task well.

Be patient with young children who are slow. Do not expect them to perform beyond their capabilities. Ask God for the grace to lay aside any notions of perfectionism. This deals a deathblow to a child’s motivation. Let children know that their efforts please you. Offer loving guidance, but don’t criticize them. Resist the urge to re-do a child’s job. Each child will become increasingly competent, as he or she grows older. First, build a child’s confidence in his or her abilities. Over time, teach him or her thoroughness and efficiency.

     4.  Laugh often with your child.

Relax and enjoy your child. Lighten up and try not to take things too seriously. God’s Word tells us that laughter is medicine for our souls. Find humor in your own human frailties and teach your child that it is healthy to laugh at one’s self.

Never laugh at your child. A parent who ridicules a child deeply wounds his or her spirit. Instead, teach children that a healthy sense of humor will hold them in good stead throughout their lives.

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