Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Unequal Parenting


I am a Christian, but my husband is not. We don’t see eye to eye about parenting issues, which makes it difficult to be a team in raising our 6-year-old son. My husband also displays behavior around our son that I disagree with. I’ve tried to talk to him, but he doesn’t see a problem. How can I raise my son to be a godly young man in spite of all this?


That’s a great question. When it comes to raising sons, a dad’s role is significant because, in essence, boys learn how to be men from their dads. But in your family, your son isn’t learning what it means to love and follow Christ from your husband. So in some ways, you’re functioning as a single parent.

While we encourage you to make sure your son has plenty of time with his dad (engaging in healthy activities), we also encourage you to expose your son to a different model. In order to show your son a healthy, God-honoring picture of masculinity, you need to find men your son can respect and admire who are willing to spend time with him.

If your own father is a follower of Christ, make sure your son gets plenty of time alone with his grandfather. Other ideas are to get your son involved in a Sunday school program at your church, preferably with a male teacher. You could also involve him in male-oriented activities that are led by strong Christian men. Ask a Christian couple you trust (preferably with a son your child’s age) to have your son over so that he can observe a healthy model in the husband of this family. Ask a handful of men in your church to pray for your son by name and to tell him that they’re doing so.

As his mom, you also need to be praying with and for your son. In talking with many couples who’ve raised boys who now live for Jesus, every one of them said prayer was the key to their parenting success. Let your son see you living out a joyful faith in Christ as you pray, read Scripture, and serve others.

Your son also needs to see you love his father — because your child’s sense of security is rooted in the security of your marriage. While you and your husband won’t see eye to eye on many issues, you can love him in a Christ like way. You can pray for him, offer unconditional love and forgiveness, and show him what it means to follow Christ. The book Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage by Lee and Leslie Strobel is an excellent resource to help you do this.

As you cultivate your relationship with God and live that out in front of your son, you’ll be helping him cultivate a heart for God.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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