At a moms group meeting at my church recently, I was asked to define my parenting goals in just a few short words. As you can imagine, I found this quite challenging. I felt like there was so much I wanted to impart on my daughter. To sum it up in a few words was impossible. And then one word popped in my head: discernment.
My parenting goals all wrapped up in one word.
Discernment. That word felt so perfect when it came to what I want to teach my daughter. Discernment is an important skill that would behoove her to develop. It would help her in all areas of her life: relationships, friendships, her faith, future careers, etc. Basically all big, life decisions.
Discernment is the ability to judge well. It is one of my parenting goals that my daughter will be able to do just that. I want her to be able to look at a situation and discern her own response to it. I want her to be sensitive to the truth and intuitive of what is erroneous. Of course, I want her to do this with certainty that comes from the Bible.
What does the Bible say about discernment?
The Bible actually has quite a lot to say about discernment.
- Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
- But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:14
- Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. John 7:24
- But test everything; hold fast what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21
- My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5
Just from these few verses/passages we can see we are called to discernment; we can develop discernment by practicing it; we are to discern only once we have all of the information; we are to constantly use our skills of discernment; we are to desire understanding, wisdom, and discernment.
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With one of my parenting goals being discernment, that means I want my child to be able to make wise and healthy choices for herself. I want her to be able to evaluate a man accordingly and decide if he will complement her. For her to hear a theological statement, submit it to the authority of Scripture, and determine if it is true. I want her to be able to examine if a friendship is mutually beneficial or not. And then be able to set appropriate boundaries.
How to develop discernment in your child
- Practice, practice, practice. Hebrews 5:14 (up above) says that mature Christians will have developed their powers of discernment via constant practice. I like to think of discernment like a muscle: the more you use it the stronger it gets. My daughter is only two years old, but I can start letting her make easy and safe choices now as a way to start exercising that muscle.
- Especially in the world of social media, it’s so important to teach our children not to accept things at face value. It’s important for them to become critical thinkers who think outside of the box and are able to consider other possibilities. They need to learn to ask questions. Only then will they have all the information and be able to discern. John 7:24 (also up above) warns us of making judgements without having all of the information.
What are you parenting goals? Are there any specific Biblical attributes you want to cultivate in your children? Share them below and get the conversation flowing!