Christian moms and dads can easily fall into one of two major parenting errors. Perhaps the most common error today is being far too lax about godliness in the home. Too many Christian families allow their children free reign over the television set, spend countless hours playing video games laced with violence, language, and sexuality, and listen to music which is both sexually suggestive and intentionally godless. The sad result has been an entire generation of "Christian" teenagers who live, think, and act no differently from the pagan culture around them.
Perhaps in reaction to this general trend, a minority of conservative Christian parents understandably feel the need to set appropriate boundaries for their children. In and of itself this is a very good thing--but it also potentially opens the door to another destructive error. Recently I had a conversation with a Dad about his daughter. The daughter was rebelling and it was clear that she had little respect or love for her father. Though he enforced a "godly" home, she took every opportunity to break his rules---including sexuality and drugs. Dad, in response, brought the hammer down even harder. His repeated refrain to me was, "not in my house!"
As we spoke I challenged him with 1 Tim 4:7. Our role as parents is not to push godliness into our children. Rather, it is to teach them to pursue after it themselves. This father had never practiced the art of talking with his daughter and patiently showing her (and challenging her with) the truths of God. Does this mean that a father should never say 'no'? Of course he should! But what it does mean is that we must keep the priority in front of us at all times. Our number one goal is not to get children to obey rules, but to capture their hearts for Christ.
Anyone can make a rule, but a its takes a biblically-minded parent to promote godliness.