One of the first priorities as parents in training our children is to communicate to them who they really are. As a child created by God they are people who have great worth and are deeply valued and loved by God. At the right age, children need to be invited and encouraged to confess that they are, like all human beings, sinners. They need to acknowledge this and then come to personal faith in Jesus Christ as God’s provision for dealing with our sins. It’s in our sin that we see the true depth of God’s love for us: “God demonstrated His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

The second thing children should be taught is that importance of love. In response to God’s love, we should love Him back. Jesus made it clear that this is the first and greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” (Mark 12:30). The process goes: God first loves us. He demonstrated that on the Cross. We return that love in worship. Then next because of God’s great love for us and our love for him we are taught by Jesus that the second greatest commandment is “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus added in the Mark passage, “There is no other commandment greater than these.”

First it’s identity in Christ, and then it’s our relationship with Christ and others followed by character formation. All children need boundaries. We often think that boundaries fence in children and they become restricted and confined but the truth is without boundaries they become fearful and withdrawn. Parents must set established boundaries and help them clearly understand them as well as the discipline associated with those boundaries, the penalties, corrections and then forgiveness and encouragement when the boundaries are violated. The goal, as God’s discipline with us, is to develop Christ-likeness in our children. Finally, we need to communicate to our children their divine calling and mission from heaven. All believers, even children, are called to share the Gospel with others. We should prepare them in the home for such opportunities. These four qualities, identity, relationships, character, and mission will become the foundation stones not just for our children’s lives, but for his or her Christian marriage and family.