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 (Manna 37: Marriage)
Setting Limits: A Christian Parent’s Responsibility
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Setting Limits: A Christian Parent’s Responsibility

Richard Solgot—Tampa, Florida, USA

All parents have the responsibility to set limits for their children. We make sure they eat the proper foods, dress appropriately for the weather, and are in bed at a reasonable time. As they get older we expand their limits, giving them more freedom to make their own choices, while staying close by to step in if necessary. The ultimate goal of setting limits throughout our children’s lives is to help them develop the ability to set their own responsible boundaries once they are out of the nest.

It doesn’t take much effort to see that somehow in our world today the process of setting limits has broken down. The stories in the news about out-of-control children are only slightly more appalling than the thought of all the ones whose stories don’t make the headlines. Why is this happening? More importantly, what can we as Christian parents do to serve as role models for non-believing families?

It would be impossible to list all of the reasons for the breakdown of parents asserting their role as limit-setters in families today, but let’s touch on a few:

·         Both parents working outside the home leaves large numbers of children home alone before and after school, as well as during summer vacations. These children are basically left to raise themselves.

·         Parents want to be “fair.” How can we think of telling our children “no” when all their friends are allowed to do something? Parents want to be their children’s friend. Somewhere along the child-rearing path, adults have come to think that their offspring should see them as equals.

·         Society as a whole seems to have a higher tolerance for sin in the form of media violence, sexual content, and dysfunctional behavior.

Christian families are not exempt from having to face these situations. How we handle them, however, is what makes a difference. By following godly mandates, we can set a positive example for others and at the same time provide a witness to our faith in Jesus Christ and in God’s provisions.


The Mother’s Role

Today it is not uncommon for both parents to be in the workforce at least part-time. I truly believe that when a mother works outside the home, the family suffers, as she is not able to fulfill her God-given role as completely as she could if she were at home. Although it may appear to be somewhat politically incorrect in today’s society, it is important that the mother, as the primary nurturer of the family, spend as much time at home with the children as possible.

            And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. (Gen 2:21-22)

God created woman from man, and thus He made them differently to fill different roles. It is known that women are intrinsically better equipped to be nurturers and supporters. By being there to help during the critical years of the formation of the child’s personality, character, and habits, the mother can better train the child in the way he or she should go. When a wife fulfills this role, a husband can better fulfill his role as spiritual leader and provider. God did not mean for women to compete with men in these areas, although women certainly can and should provide spiritual guidance to their children, as well as provide for their families in many other ways.

Proverbs 31 provides a beautiful description of the characteristics of a perfect wife and mother. The woman described in this chapter of Proverbs, though most likely a composite character, beautifully illustrates all that a woman can do to benefit her family.

Christian women should resist the temptation to work outside the home if the need is not there. Ask the Lord to show you ways to adjust your financial situation that will not require you to hold a paying job while your children are at home. Of course, this does need to be a personal decision, one made with your husband and in prayer. If taking a job is your only option for providing for your family’s needs, then you should try to seek a position that will be the least disruptive to the life of your family—perhaps one that you can do while the children are in school or when your husband is home to care for the children. Children need their parents, and non-believing families need to see that Christians are willing to make sacrifices in their lives for the good of their children.

The Father’s Role

            Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.

            Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. 

            Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them  (Ps 127:3-5).

With the mother concentrating on being the primary nurturer, the father can focus more on fulfilling his role as the spiritual leader of the family—training his children to be God’s children by leading through example.

God wants every family to be a loving one, so as fathers we should ask ourselves whether or not we are loving—not only to our family, but also through living the life of Christian love for God, for His sheep, and for souls who are lost. God wants every family to be a prayerful one, so as the spiritual leaders in the family, do we lead by example? Is our life of prayer strong, mild, or weak? Have we taught our children the importance and value of effective prayer and Bible reading? Have we established a program to help build strong spiritual habits and character in our family? The father must always carefully examine his own spiritual behavior if he expects his children to learn the true meaning of righteousness.

The father’s role should also be to support the mother in her role as nurturer. He should always be in tune to the demands placed upon the mother in raising children and keeping a tidy household. How else can he help his wife in carrying out her duties, so that she can also remain at peace with God, herself, her children, and very importantly…with her husband?


Both parents should be in agreement about the issues and methods of discipline: about which infractions require calling a “time-out” and which behaviors should demand sterner discipline—perhaps even corporal punishment. It is extremely important that parents be unified and consistent in the discipline of their children.

Fairness is certainly an admirable attribute in friendship, but the parent/child relationship was not designed to be that type of relationship.

            Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.  (Prov 22:6)

God gives parents the responsibility to teach their children right from wrong. At the same time, He warns parents not to exasperate their children.

            And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  (Eph 6:4)

So many parents today go to the extreme of “not exasperating” their children that they let them do whatever they want. They have paralyzed their role as parents by believing that it is better to let a child make his own unwise choices rather than to make him “suffer” by saying “no.”

Beyond spoiling a child, this behavior can harm the child more deeply. How can children learn what their parents’ values are if they are not made aware of them through their judgments about what they can or cannot do? Telling a child what he “should” do is one thing, but true learning takes place when it is both observed in non-conflicting parental behavior as well as lived out by the child himself.

As Christian parents, we should seek God’s wisdom in all matters pertaining to choices for our children. We need to recognize, too, that the choices God would have us make on our children’s behalf will not always be popular with them and may subject us to criticism from non-believers. This should not sway us in our decision to follow the Lord’s direction, but rather it should encourage us that we are bearing a powerful testimony to the world.


Take a look at today’s movie listings, the top 50 CDs, and popular computer and video games. If you examine them closely, you may be shocked to see just how many contain violence, obscenities, hatred, and sexual explicitness, as well as anti-Christian sentiments. Sometimes these things are quite obvious, other times they are buried under the surface and take some discernment to find. Why is there so much vile material out there? Because society has accepted it as “normal.” Standards have been drastically lowered, and Christians are being dragged down right along with the rest of the population.

There is no good that can be obtained from allowing our children to be bombarded with ungodly images, lyrics, and pastimes.

            Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  (Phil 4:8)

Paul’s exhortation should be our touchstone. Paul knew how insidiously appealing worldly things can be, and they remain so for our families today just as they were for the Philippians of Paul’s day. Do not be afraid to censor your child’s media intake… consider it your God-given duty.

We as Christian parents certainly have our work cut out for us. We need to remain confident that God will provide us with the answers about what limits we need to set for our children. He has provided us with all the tools we need: His written word, His Holy Spirit, and the gift of prayer through which we can communicate our worries and concerns to Him. May He guide us to use these tools to set healthy limits for our children and to teach them how to set their own.

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Publisher: True Jesus Church