Parenting According to the Fruits of the Spirit by Suzanne Stangland LPC, MA
The pressures and stresses of being a parent in today’s society are overwhelming! It is extremely difficult to raise our children with the Christian values we, as a society and country, once held so dear. For instance, I have 2 young boys who have been exposed to unhealthy images in various types of media, including scary images and violence often depicted in video games. These images do not match our Christian values of peace-keeping. In an effort to raise our children to honor God, let us return to the characteristics that our awesome and loving God set forth for us to embody: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV). The fruits of the Spirit are clear guidelines that if we practice them in all we do, life will be more fulfilling. In relating this to parenting, the goal is to not only teach these ideals to our children, but to strive to put them into practice ourselves as well.
Fruit of the Spirit Behavior Chart
A dear friend of mine created a behavior chart with the fruits of the Spirit as the household rules/goals. Her and her husband provide small, immediate rewards to reinforce the behaviors that align with the fruits identified in the Bible. The chart accomplishes four significant goals. First, it helps the parents create a calm tone and a loving, gracious atmosphere by reminding the parents to be gentle, compassionate, careful and intentional about the way they speak and act to their children instead of them getting carried away in the moment. Second, it reminds both parents and children to take the time to think before they act. Third, the chart reminds her and her husband to model the fruit for their own sake as well as that of their children. Finally, this plan coupled with deliberate discussions about negative choices versus positive, teaches everyone how things could have gone differently. These conversations guide us in learning who we are in Christ and who He wants us to become.
Proverbs 22 verse 6 instructs us to “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (NIV). If we as parents work to model and master the very values and behaviors we wish our children to possess, our children will have a much easier time learning and implementing those values in their own lives and making their behaviors mimic the God-honoring choices they have seen. The ability for children to see their parents living a fruit-filled life will enable the children to identify the very qualities they hope to see represented in the life relationships they cultivate. Their relationships with friends, family, coworkers and romantic partners will be more healthy and balanced as they become fruit-filled teens and adults.