E. Refocusing parenthood:
Parents must move beyond the common statement that is often said to children, “Do as I say, not what I do.” Children need examples. We too often forget that we are teaching our children through two mediums of education: (1) We teach our children through oral instructions. (2) We teach our children through behavioral example. If parents lack in any of these two areas, they will reap the consequences through their children. Their children will either know what to do, but have no living example of how to do what they know, or they will follow the behavioral example of their parents, but not know why they are doing it. Atheists can have good families. But their children are not directed by their parents to an eternal dwelling with their Creator.
Young people must not be burdened with the task of sifting through parental dysfunction in order to find their way in life. If parents do not live up to what they teach, their children, after they leave the home, are constantly challenged to make decisions concerning good and bad behavior on their own. This should not be the responsibility of the children. Children must not be given the responsibility of sifting through our actions in the home in order to come up with what the Lord would have them do.
When our children leave the home, they must take with them two primary principles that will keep them focused in their lives:
- You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Mt 22:37).
- You will love your neighbor as yourself (Mt 22:39).
With the guiding principle of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt 6:33), children are well prepared for life with the above two principles as the foundation for their behavior.
Parents must remember that the Bible is their best friend. There are nugget principles for child rearing throughout the Bible. Someone said, “Rearing a child is like drafting a blueprint; you have to know where to draw the lines.” It is the Bible that has already drawn the lines for child training.
A young teenage daughter asked if she could go to a recently released adult movie. But the mother drew a line. She said “No!” The daughter responded to the mother, “All the other parents are allowing their children to go.” As the mother continued sweeping the kitchen floor, she picked up a handful of garbage that she had swept into a pile and threw it in the salad of the noon meal. She then said to her daughter, “I suppose that if you don’t hate garbage in your heart you shouldn’t mind it in your stomach.”
Parents must always remember the exhortation of the Holy Spirit: “Be not deceived, evil company corrupts good morals” (1 Co 15:33). There was once a man who had a canary who would sing a beautiful song. So he decided to hang the cage with the canary outside his window to enjoy the company of the sparrows. The sparrows thus became the neighbors of the canary. It did not take long for the canary to learn to sing only, “Cheep, Cheep, Cheep.”
There is an exhortation from the Bible we must not forget: “‘Therefore, come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord.” (2 Co 6:17). And, “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Rm 12:9). Goethe said, “Tell me with whom thou art found and I will tell thee who thou art.” Solomon has not yet been proven wrong in the statement: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed” (Pv 13:20).
Parents must first talk to God in prayer about their children, and then they must talk to their children about God. God gave Israel a great mandate for parenthood in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, in which were the following words:
And you will teach them [commandments] diligently to your children and will talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up (Dt 6:7).
Now before we become cynical of our own generation, consider the following words:
“Children now love luxury, have bad manners, contempt for authority, show disrespect for their elders, and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants and not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their partners, chatter before company, gobble up their dainties at the table, cross their legs and tyrannize over their teachers.”
Written around 475 B.C.
[Next Lecture: September 12]