5 Misconceptions About Parenting That Will Hinder Your Children from Coming to Jesus

by Starr Meade

When my children are grown, the one thing I hope they will take with them from our family is …

How would the average American parent answer that question?

The answers would certainly vary, but how often do we hear a parent say, “I want my child to have learned piety in our family?” Would even Christian parents give such an answer? One definition of piety is “devotion to religious duties.” The faithful observance of duty in a culture as feeling-oriented as ours sounds less than interesting. Yet devotion to duty ensures that what is right and important gets done, however, we feel about it at the moment. Devotion to duty is a part of good character, and devotion to religious duty-piety-is an essential part of godly character.

Family piety must begin with the knowledge of the one true God, which means God as he has revealed himself in the Bible. If it is true piety, it will not stop there but will spread out into a daily commitment to live in the light of God’s revelation-seeing the world as God sees it, loving what he loves, and living to see and to show his glory.

Several commonly held misconceptions about what is best for children threaten to derail the training of our children in this kind of piety if we should thoughtlessly embrace them. So, what are these misconceptions and how do they hinder us in practicing piety in our families?

Misconception 1: “Good parenting is child-centered.”

Increasingly, the parents considered to be the most exemplary are those who give the most to their children. Indeed, it always has been true that good parents must give and give and give, often going without the rest or pleasure they would like to have, in order to meet the needs of their children. Today, however, we often consider the good parent as the one who gives the child not just what he needs but what he wants, as well. The measure of a good parent is defined by the speed with which he or she is willing to set aside other concerns to do what a child would like to do:

I have just begun to eat my dinner and my toddler, not hungry, wants to go out to play. If I am a good parent, I will leave my meal and go outside. I am in the middle of a conversation with someone when my child begins tugging on my sleeve and demanding my attention. Since I am a good parent, I excuse myself from the conversation to hear my child’s request. My husband and I would like to spend time alone together, but my children do not like having a babysitter, so we stay home. It is the Lord’s Day and I want to attend worship, but my children dislike sitting through the church service, so we all attend Sunday school, then leave.

Child-centered parenting may be an attempt to guard against spending inadequate time teaching, training, loving, and enjoying one’s children. But parenting goes to the opposite extreme and becomes wrongfully child-centered when what the children prefer is the most frequently used criterion for parental choices.

Child-centered parenting fails on two counts…


5 Misconceptions About Parenting That Will Hinder Your Children from Coming to Jesus