Children don't come with a manual, and while parents' many concerns about whether they're raising their children right can be frustrating, it's a good thing that there isn't a rulebook. We're all too unique and precious to be handled like an electronic device, rebooted and reset at times of troubleshooting.
However, there are some basics which all parents can benefit from learning when it comes to caring for their kids. Parenting books, fatherhood blogs and advice from health professionals can all be great tools for new (and not so new) dads as they continue to play out their vital role in their children's lives. But the Bible is also full of some great parenting tips and guidance.
Even if your own father hasn't been present or provided you with a good example to follow, you can still be a great dad with the help of God's guidance.
Here are four parenting tips for fathers inspired by Scripture.
Look to God for guidance
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord - Ephesians 6:4
You won't always get everything right when it comes to raising your children but one of the greatest things you can do for them is to teach them God's ways. Following His directions will help you be a better father as your actions will be based on His perfect blueprint. God listens, loves unconditionally, forgives and welcomes His children back after they drift from Him. Do you do the same for your children?
Lead by example
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up - Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Children learn so much from the people around them. As they develop during their early years they imitate many of your movements, words and phrases. That's why it's so important that your behaviour reflects your beliefs and the lessons and values that you want them to learn. You need to "impress" God's commandments on your children. That means doing more than reciting them in their presence. It requires you to live them out too.
Don't downplay discipline
Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death - Proverbs 19:18
Getting the balance right when it comes to discipline is important but it's not always easy. But the Bible reminds you that without discipline you deny your child the ability to learn right from wrong at a time when they are dependent on you for instruction. This doesn't mean you need to be heavy handed, aggressive or stifle their development but that you correct them when they lose their way.
Don't shy away from showing your love
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us - Romans 5:8
Your children need to know that they are loved by you. God's love for his children is clear to see. He's proven it through actions, not just words. Follow his example and make regular declarations of your love for your children in ways that they can't ignore or misinterpret. Don't limit your displays of affection to money and gifts. Spending quality time with your kids is an important way of showing them you care too.