As your family grows, you'll find yourself with a full-time job on your hands. Children may be a heritage and reward from the Lord, but they are also work! You have to spend the necessary time to make sure that you have taught them, shared with them, and cared for them.

And you have to spend the time to teach them how to share with and care for each other. You have to teach them spiritual things as well, such as how to minister to God and exercise their own faith.

So you have an awesome responsibility. It's not just "get married and be happy." It takes work at every stage. And every time you introduce a new child to the family, it is totally different, because now you have another personality in the home that you've never had before.

It is very important that you recognize the fact that your children will all have different personalities. You can stymie the call of God on a child's life if you don't understand and take the time to deal with that child's own unique personality.

For instance, I had always wondered where my youngest daughter came from because she was so different from everyone in the family! Then one day I finally realized that she acts just like my sister. Fortunately, my sister is a Christian.

Your children do not all have to act like you or your spouse. Children are imitators. Sometimes they imitate Dad. Sometimes they imitate Mom. Sometimes they choose to imitate someone outside the home.

And sometimes they want to imitate everybody all at once. (Then you really have a mess on your hands. But they'll outgrow that if they're guided properly.)

I believe children should learn from their parents. No one outside the home is responsible for what goes on in your home, so you shouldn't allow others to form your children's opinions. They are supposed to get their opinions, values, and morals from you. And you're supposed to get them from the Bible.

Your children can also learn from you which people are safe to imitate. However, it's your responsibility to find out who their mentors are and to make sure they're following godly role models.

Another thing with children is that you must allow them time to be children. Children go through growing stages, just as we do as adults, so you have to allow them to think.

Talk to your children and ask them questions about different things. Teach them how to think for themselves. And let them talk to you. Listen to them before you "jump all over them" about something.

And make sure you're really hearing what they're saying, because it could be something totally different than what you think you've heard.

Whenever punishment is in order, make it appropriate for their age. Younger children need the discipline of the rod, but you need to use wisdom in correcting older ones.

You have to get them where it hurts, so to speak, such as taking away their privileges. You want them to think about what they did instead of just being mad at you.

Finally, don't let your children stay home from church. Make them attend. That's part of your responsibility to train them up in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6). Yes, there will be a point where they are just going to church because they have to.

But if they keep going, the importance of church attendance and the commitment to make it a priority will "rub off" on them. (Make sure you have them in a good Bible-teaching, Spirit-filled church.)

You can see how building a strong family takes responsibility and discipline on your part—in other words, work! But the rewards are worth the time you invest in your greatest asset in life, your family.

Source: Marriage and Family by Deborah Butler
Excerpt permission granted by Word Of Faith Publishing