Parenting Bad Behavior: Parenting Principles

As a parent, it's not just dealing with a child’s bad behavior but with the things that cause bad behavior. 
May 25, 2023

A parent is not just dealing with a child’s bad behavior but with the things that cause bad behavior. 

It does not take long for a parent to realize their child needs guidance, teaching, learning, and, most importantly, Jesus. From day one, parents must be engaged in helping their child develop. Whether trying to get a child to eat their vegetables or follow the house rules as a teenager, parents quickly learn about their child’s behavioral condition, especially when dealing with rebellion. Of course, this rebellion is the state of their “condition.” Unless a child has received Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they are still lost and in need of Jesus. Therefore, as some have stated, “the lost act lost.” They do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit and are subject to their own sinful “condition.”  Paul Tripp says, “Our children are not just disobedient; they are disobedient because they are lost. Our children do not make foolish choices; they make foolish choices because they are lost.” 

“Our Children Are Lost”

What does it mean that our children are lost? It simply means that at the given moment, our child has not repented of their sinful ways, therefore, their desires, actions, words, or just simple rebellion. It means that as a parent, the focus should not only be on the behavior of a child but on the condition that causes the behavior, namely, that they are lost without Jesus. According to Paul Tripp, Luke 15 is a great help to parents because it highlights the lost condition. In that passage of Scripture, Jesus gives three parables, namely, the parable of the lost sheep, lost coin, and prodigal son. Tripp explains, “Each of these parables highlights an aspect of what it means to be lost and helps you understand your experience with your children and your job description as their parent.” 

It must be stated there are some children who have made a decision to accept and follow Jesus. The good news is that their sins have been forgiven, and they have the indwelling Holy Spirit to help them live for Christ. When they do rebel, they have access to God through Jesus to be forgiven of any rebellious ways. 

“What Do Lost Children Need?”

Some valuable things lost children need are insight, compassion, hope, rescue, wisdom, and guidance. It is a parent’s responsibility to teach their children that Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost. Though it is not easy at times, God has placed the responsibility of discipleship on parents. Over the years and during the parenting process, a parent can provide guidance and direction, along with the other characteristics previously mentioned. God is the only hope for parents as they present His truth and forgiveness to their children.  In fact, parents will need God’s help to empower them as they continually present God’s grace and truth with the hope that God will change our children and that He will change. 

Reflective Questions

How are you presenting the truth of Christ to your children?

How are you praying for your children?

Are you demonstrating wisdom, guidance, hope, and compassion to your children?

*All quotes come from Paul Tripp’s book titled Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family.