ABCs of Raising Children


Note: I do not know who wrote the original list,
but this has been edited to make it more biblical.


A is for Accountability.

Hold your children accountable for their behavior. Give them boundaries and make it clear that there will be repercussions if they cross those limits. Example - In the Old Testament Law God told His children "thou shalt not" and then prescribed set punishments if they did anyway.

Give them responsibilities and hold them accountable if they fail to do as they have been instructed. 1 Cor. 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. Someday they will give account of themselves to God. Ultimately, you are preparing them for that day. Rom. 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Show them that the point of accountability is not so that you can punish them for every mistake but rather to help them grow in their ability to bear responsibility. Gal. 6:2-5 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.

B is for the Bible.

Read your Bible, read the Bible to your children. Read the Bible as a family. Pray that your children will desire to read the Bible for themselves. Deut. 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. (We are never commanded to "read the Bible every day" in the N.T. While it's a really good idea, it's important to note this for those who run to excesses in forcing their children to do spiritual things - which they ought to allow the Holy Spirit to deal with since that's His job.)

Teach your children the Bible should be handled with honor, and is a precious treasure from God. Let them see you living it as much as quoting it.
Ps. 119:129 Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.
Ps. 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

C is for Consistency.

Hold to the same principles and practices. Don't set rules and enforce them vigorously one time and ignore them the next time. Rom. 2:21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?

Keep your word. Broken promises betray trust. Eccl. 5:5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. It is better to say, "We will try to do such and such....," than to make promises about uncertain things.
James 4:15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

D is for Discipline and Discipleship.

Discipline in not just "spanking." It is a method of training and the order of your home.

When discipline require chastening make it fit the crime. Never discipline or spank in anger.
Prv. 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
Prv. 29:17 Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.

Hebrews 12:6-7 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Not all chastening must be done with a switch, as some people teach. God does not use the same method of correction with all of His children, and your children will likely not all respond  well to the same type of chastening. Be creative in this. Example: When the kids are calling each other names, make them each sit down and write out 10 good things about the other. When your son leaves his bike where people walk, after being admonished to move it, make him write an essay on bicycles.

The discipline you give your children should teach them self-discipline. Your goal in discipline or discipleship is not to just spank your kids into obedience to either you or the Bible.  It should be that your children will be able to control themselves and live orderly, well disciplined lives.
1 Cor. 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.  
This requires instruction and reproof, not just chastening.
Prv. 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

E is for Example.

Set a good example. John 13:15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

Be sure your own standard of conduct is biblically sound. Then teach your standard to your kids and teach them why you follow those standards. 1 Peter 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

1 Thess. 4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.

F is for Forgiveness.

Practice it and teach the importance of forgiving. This will help them believe that God has truly forgiven them.
Matt. 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If you sin against your children, ask for their forgiveness. Do not hold yourself above them in this area. James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another...

G is for Giving and ThanksGiving.

Teach the joy of giving, not only to family and friends and "at church", but to strangers in need. Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. But, don't force them to give, either to the Lord or others, against their will. They need to learn to do so willingly and cheerfully. 2 Cor. 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Give your children blessings. Demonstrate your love both through physical affection and through appropriate gifts. God shows His love to us this way.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Ps. 68:19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.

This also gives opportunity to teach thankfulness. As they learn to be thankful for what you do for them, teach them to thank God for what He does as well. Help them recognize the blessings from the Lord. Heb. 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

H is for a sense of Humor.

Keep your sense of humor. Promote laughter with your children.
Prv. 15:13 A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
Prv. 17:22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

God made us to laugh and to enjoy the good things in life. Ps. 126:2-3 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

I is for Imagination and Inquisitiveness.

Be creative, and play with your children. Color and draw with them. Read and sing with them. Eph. 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;  Build blanket forts and tree houses. Invent new recipes together. Gen. 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Give them a sense of adventure, a holy curiosity. Explore God's creation. Teach your kids to try new and unusual foods. Go down a different road just because your kids have never been down that one before. Look for interesting things to look up or study as a family. Eccl. 3:11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

J is for Justice.

Be just, and insist that they be just also. They will see God's justice as you represent it to them. Col. 3:24-25 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. Eph. 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Teach them that life is not fair; but that, by being fair themselves, they will have a clear conscience and someone will appreciate it.

Rom. 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Get to the bottom of things. Don't automatically assume that this one or that one is guilty because it's "usually" the case. Don't assume you know what happened because it's easier to make a fast judgment and get on with life.  Kids resent injustice from you, their judge. Prv. 11:1 A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.

Don't overcorrect your children. Too much correcting of children, as with the man in the church at Corinth, can cause overmuch sorrow. 2 Cor. 2:6-7 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

Do not have favorites among your children. They will sense this and resent it.

K in for Knowing your children's friends and their parents, as well as their teachers.

Prv. 19:2 Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good... It is highly important to know who your kids are playing with, spending time with and learning under (this includes Sunday School teachers and church activity leaders as well as school teachers)! This also can be extended to books, videos, and music; since, in essence, these are teaching your children, even becoming their "friends." Don't forget to keep close track of their internet friends also. Prv. 22:24-25 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. Prv. 13:20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. 

In some situations connections may need to be broken off, in others it may be wiser to talk with your kids about what they are learning or hearing from the source and help them discern for themselves whether it is a good connection. The age of the child makes a difference in how you handle it.  Also, ask questions about how they feel about their teachers or friend's family. [From personal experience: I had a friend who was being molested by her father, unbeknown to us.  While he never bothered me, I never trusted the man. My parents assumed I was safe in that home, but that trust was highly misplaced.  It was the mercy of God, and probably the strong discomfort He gave me, that I was kept from evil in that home.]

L is for Listening.

Listen to your children. It will teach them how to listen to others, and their thoughts will give you insights. James 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: Pay close attentions to their questions and give simple answers unless they want to know more.

M is for Mercy

Be merciful. Teach your children to be merciful with others. This will give them a better understanding and confidence in God's mercy. James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Reduce the pressure on your children. Have appropriate household rules, but don't push the kids beyond measure. Don't be a perfectionist and don't be unreasonable. They will only be kids once. It is not always necessary to chasten every transgression to the full measure. If God did that to us, we'd all be pretty miserable all the time. Remember that. Have some pity on them. Ps. 103:13-14 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Also see 2 Cor. 10:12-14.

N is for No.

Use it, and mean it.
Exodus 20 Thou shalt not...

O is for Obedience.

Teach your children to obey you quickly and willingly. This could save their lives someday, and it will help them learn to obey God quickly and willingly. Eph. 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 1 Peter 1:13-14 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

P is for Patience.

Don't overreact. Give the kids a break. Be firm, but don't act as if the world is coming to an end when they mess up. Remember that they are but flesh and dust. Ps. 78:39 For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.
1 Tim. 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

Don't expect them to know everything after one lesson. Isa. 28:9-10 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

Q is for Quietness.

Teach your kids to be quiet when it's appropriate. 1 Thess. 4:11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; It's no wonder some parents get so stressed out and angry with their kids when they don't make allowances for both energy release and quietness. Kids need to learn to manage their energy by also having times to be still and quiet. Psalms 131:1-2 LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.
Eccl. 4:6 Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit. [Might I be so bold as to suggest that two hands full of uncontrollable kids will be very vexing, while one handful of controlled kids can be a great blessing? Don't be so greedy about having kids that you end up with a chaotic home or wild kids who give you no rest.]

Turn off the TV. Turn off the music too. Sometimes you'll be surprised how noise stimuli will make kids rowdy. Lower your voice. If you shout constantly, they will too.

R is for Rest and Recreation.

Recreation means to re-create. Refresh mind, body and spirit. Everyone needs a break sometimes. Don't become so intense in your work, homeschooling, or ministry that you can't stop to play or spend a day just sitting in a park together. Mark 6:31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. By the way, while revivals, camp meetings, missionary conferences and so forth may revive the spirit, they are usually not really restful for the body.  Make other plans for resting the body.

S is for the Strength and Salvation of the Lord.

Teach your kids where true strength and salvation come from.
Eph. 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Ps. 62:1 Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.
Ps. 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Teach your kids the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15:1-8Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

T is for Togetherness.

Have special, designated times to be together as a family. Talk together, pray together, read together, work together, play together. Heb. 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. This is taken somewhat out of context, but gathering together in the home as a Christian family is the first and most important gathering. If we forsake this one we often loose much more. (See Billy Sunday for details.)

But, know when to let go too. Consider Mark 10:7, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And, Luke 9:61-62 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Life is short. Don't waste the time you have together as a family. You will all be going your separate ways soon enough. Teach your children to value their years at home, while preparing them for that day of departure. James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

U is for Uniqueness.

Understand the uniqueness of each child, and let that child be who God made him or her to be. Don't force your likes and dislikes on them in areas that don't matter. (Examples - favorite colors, favorite sports, food likes and dislikes, decor style, musical instrument they "have" to play, hobbies, etc. It isn't "wrong" for a boy to like flowers or cooking, or a girl to like horses or barn work provided the boy learns to be a man and the girl learns to be a lady. Ladies don't have to wear white socks.) It is enough to demand submission to your will on important things without trying to force them into being a carbon copy of yourself, a sibling, or some other person. Ps 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

V is for Virtue

Virtue is "Moral goodness; opposed to vice...Bravery; valor...Excellence; that which gives excellence..." (Samuel Johnson's Dictionary).

Be virtuous yourself and teach your children to be virtuous. God calls His children to glory and virtue and He wants us to add virtue to our faith. Faith without virtue cannot prove itself (James 2:18-20), while virtue without faith is pointless (Titus 3:5). 2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:...5-7 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

1 Peter 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

W is for Words and for Watching unto prayer.

Guard your words and teach your kids to do likewise. Ps. 141:3 Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Both the content and the tone of voice must be right. Your tone of voice can convey more to a child than the words spoken.
Prv. 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

Teach your children to eschew evil communications by doing so yourself.

Titus 2:7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

Watch and pray and teach your kids how to also. No one is immune from the attacks of the devil.
1 Peter 4:7  But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Mark 14:38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

X is for eXamination.

Examine constantly and be aware. Teach your children what you learn, and how to examine for themselves.
1 Cor. 11:28 But let a man examine himself...31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
Ps. 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.
Ezk. 44:23 And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean
Acts 17:10-11 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Y is for You.

Take care of yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually. A content parent helps a child to be content.
2 Cor. 12:14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you...
1 Tim. 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Z is for Zeal.

Teach your kids to have their own zeal for God, rather than depending on yours.
Gal. 4:18 But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.



graphics and background by mary vannattan

Updated 2016