Christian children are never naughty.

Yes, you read that right.

Christian children are never naughty; Christian children commit sins. Labeling your child’s behavior biblically will change the way you engage with your child when there is a ruckus in your home.

When you think your child is simply being a brat, it is easy to scowl, yell, or even hit. But when you remember that your child’s conduct is a sin against God, you no longer see bad behavior as something that must be curbed. You will now see your interaction with your child as a rescue mission.

When your children sin, they do not need to be yelled at. They need to be taken to the cross where a sin/forgiveness transaction can take place.

The next time you hear screaming in the other room, before you shout, “Knock it off, or I will give you something to scream about,” remember, they are not being naughty; they are sinning. In other words, your parenting is no longer about conformity to your rules, it is about rescuing your child from the wrath of God. This is earnest business.

Typically, you want your kids to stop being naughty for the following reasons:

  • They are getting up your nose.
  • You just want some peace and quiet.
  • You want to do something and they thwart your goals.
  • You are worried about being embarrassed in public by their bad behavior.

If you begin to see your children as image-bearing sinners who need the gospel applied to their totally depraved hearts, then you will respond to your children’s naughtiness differently.

  • Instead of getting angry, you will be concerned for their spiritual well-being.
  • Your desire for peace and quiet will be overwhelmed by the desire to help your child understand God’s grace better.
  • You will put your earthly desire behind your heavenly desire to see your child spend eternity with Jesus.
  • Your embarrassment will diminish because you are on a rescue mission for your child’s very soul. Who cares what the servants think when you are on a mission from the King?

Parenting with salvation in view forever changes the way you treat your child. Think of the amazing impact this will have on your little reprobate sinner:

  • They will stop saying, “Yes, Ma’am” and then do the very thing you commanded them not to do the second they are out of your sight.
  • They will obey the omnipresent God who never loses sight of them.
  • They will no longer see your unrighteous anger and have a servile fear of you.
  • They will not think that God is a simmering pot, ready to boil over.

On the other hand:

  • They will see the gospel in action.
  • They will understand the earnestness of salvation.
  • They will see that you have been affected by God’s grace.
  • They will see you as a loving representative of your loving God.

Is this approach to parenting easy? No way; it demands much of us. It is one thing to talk about the gospel; it is another thing to live the gospel.

It is one thing to teach your child the gospel; it is another thing to show them the gospel.

It is one thing to sing about the gospel; it is another thing to put the power of the gospel to work in your life and home.

Hard? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely. And here is a bonus for you. If you start learning how to think “gospel” when you parent, God will sanctify you as you focus on your child’s justification. You will stop being angry, disgusted, frustrated, annoyed, snarly, and mean. That is a hefty bonus.

Danger, danger

God has not instructed us to disciple our children so we can have well-behaved kids. God wants to do far more than that in your home. God wants to change children, and He wants to change you.

Your home can be one of two places: It can be an endurance marathon with much anger, frustration, and fighting, or it can be a school of character. God wants the latter, not the former.

God wants you to love and appreciate Him to the point where you cannot help but parent with your eye on salvation. The only way that can happen is to first focus on your own salvation.

If you simply adopt these words as your latest parenting strategy, then you will have missed the point. You will have missed not just what God wants to reveal to your child, but what He wants to do for you. Do not read all of the scenarios in this book and think, “That’s it! I will memorize those speeches and start preaching them to my kids every time they are naughty.” Don’t do that.

There are as many parenting scenarios as there are children. You can’t give a memorized speech to your child when they sin in their own special way. This is not about parroting another parent. This is about genuinely speaking truth to your child in an effort to help them understand the Savior who has so affected and changed you.

God does not want the gospel to be used simply as the latest 1-2-3 timeout! God wants the gospel to affect radical change in everyone in the home, starting with you, Mom and Dad.

Remember what God has done for you.

Remember how He bled and died for you.

Remember how He rose from the grave for you.

Remember how He has provided every temporal blessing for you.

Then approach each combustible situation with one thought: “When I am done, I want my child to love and fear the Lord the same way I do.”

Excerpted from Reset for Parents. Copyright © 2017 by Todd Friel. Used with permission of New Leaf Press.