God has masterfully created your child's body, mind, and spirit to make him or her a unique person with an important mission to fulfill. This awesome creation - your son or daughter - is God's gift to you to raise. God is counting on you to do your best with this gift He's entrusted to you.

Here are some biblically-based principles to help you embrace the gift of your child and raise him or her well:

• Give your child the best prenatal care you can. While you're pregnant, make sure you take care of your physical and emotional health so your child can develop well in the womb. Have regular doctor visits; eat a healthy diet; take prenatal vitamins; avoid harmful substances like alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine; and reduce your stress level.

• Affirm your child's uniqueness. Help your child discover his or her distinctive, God-given talents. Let your child participate in activities that help cultivate those talents. Expose your child to Christian mentors and role models who excel in areas that interest your child. Give your child extra support in areas where he or she has limitations.

• Support and encourage your child spiritually. Pray for your child every day, teach him or her to pray, read the Bible together, worship together as part of a local church family, build close relationships with other Christians, model personal holiness for your child, show your child how to give and serve, give your child his or her own age-appropriate copy of the Bible, lead your family in a regular Bible study and worship time, place symbols of faith throughout your home, write out your personal testimony of how you came to Christ and share it with your child, regularly share with your child how God is working in your life, keep a record of answered prayers, and encourage your child to begin a relationship with Christ and continually grow in that relationship.

• Take care of your child's physical health. Know that good nutrition is vital for your child to grow and learn well. Make sure your child eats a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Keep junk foods and drinks (like hot dogs and soda) out of his or her diet as much as possible. Have your child drink one-half ounce of water for each pound of body weight every day. Exercise alongside your child. Teach your child good hygiene habits like always washing his or her hands before eating. Give your child enough sleep each night so he or she is well-rested the next day.

• Make your child's safety a priority. Evaluate everything in your house and yard for its potential impact on your child's safety, and make the necessary changes. Teach your child how to make smart decisions to protect his or her own safety at home and elsewhere. Always use car seats and make sure they're properly installed. Avoid unhealthy habits in your own life that could harm your child - like smoking. Never leave your child without adult supervision. Explain to your child how to ask for help or escape from threatening situations. Make sure your child always has proper identification with him or her.

• Be sensitive. Understand that your words and actions have great power to either hurt or help your child. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the world from your child's perspective, and to be gentle and kind with him or her. Affirm your child whenever you can. Let your child know that you love him or her even when he or she fails. Be positive, not negative. Give your child extra support after a traumatic experience. Strive to give your child a sense of peace and confidence as he or she goes through life. Encourage your child to constantly turn to God for real hope and help.