By Leslie Diestelkamp
We are all aware that today’s children expect to “do their own thing;” that is, they want to exercise much more independence than that which characterized some other generations. Yet we also recognize that most parents do indeed have considerable influence regarding the aspirations and destinies of their offspring. First of all, many parents today are too busy to be bothered with concerns about the future of their children, so they actually help to determine what that future may be by their neglect. They allow others-teachers, associates, recruiters, etc. to woo their children into various activities and vocations without much home influence. But others do consider the matter seriously, yet fail just as miserably, because they set the wrong goals for their children.
It is not my intent to suggest that parents should choose the very occupation their children follow, but I do mean parents should so direct the character of the children that whatever occupation they have in later life will be an honorable one and will be pursued with fidelity to God. In choosing their occupation, children need to be taught that “any honest occupation is honorable” so long as it does not involve them or others in immorality.
But because many parents have been deprived in their childhood, they are determine to provide every luxury for their own children, and to do so they spoil the child and neglect him as well. In order to provide more “things” for their children-houses, cabins, automobiles, televisions, rumpus rooms, pool tables, motorcycles, etc.,– many time both parents are gone from home most of the time, working so hard and so long that personal attention is neglected and character-building is forgotten. How many times have we heard it said, “I give my kid everything he wanted and as soon as he was big enough he left home in rebellion.”
Source Of Rebellion
It is not possible for me to suggest all the reasons for the prevalent rebellion we see among today’s youth, but of one thing we can be sure: during childhood the parents did not provide a secure family circle! Materialism may have prevailed in the home. Parents must remember that love, respect and honor cannot be bought with money nor provided by the things that money may buy. A child’s loyalty to the home and to the principles learned that will not be secured by supplying large sums of money or every worldly thing that money can purchase for the youngster. In fact, love, respect and loyalty usually come quite naturally in children who learn to share frugal living with their parents and who are guided by parents who think more of the family circle than they do of the almighty (?) dollar.
However, other parents go to another extreme that causes some rebellion. They may deprive their children of things which the children really need just so the parents may spend the money for their own materialistic pursuits. In other words, the family may be neglected as the parents pursue other attainments for themselves.
Educational matters may become a source of rebellion. Some parents may be so obsessed with desire for higher education for the children that they make education a god. Some children may have been relegated to “second class” because they did not want a college education. Furthermore, many youth are lost to the family and to the principles the parents desired because the children have not been properly prepared in heart and mind for the exposure to carnality, worldliness and infidelity which confronts them in most colleges and universities.
Pursuing the Objectives
It is one thing to set some goals for your children, and it is quite another thing to diligently pursue those objectives. Some parents simply wish their children may attain certain accomplishments. Other parents, more realistically, give their attention, time and talents in training the children to reach the desired goals. Let us enumerate some necessary steps and procedures for parents in their pursuit of success with their children:
1. Children must be trained while very young to demonstrate respect. This begins with respect for the parents, but also includes respect for other family members, for friends, for the police, for the teacher, for the unfortunate, for decency, etc. Other peoples’ rights and property must be respected.
2. Especially the children must be trained in respect for the Lord, the Bible, and the church. For instance, they must learn to respect special occasions. They must know how to behave in the Bible Class and the assemblies of the saints. (One reason some children give so much trouble in church services is that they have never been trained to sit! At home and at school, they constantly move as they may choose; thus, it is then difficult to get them to sit still in services. I am convinced that parents should set aside a period each day in which the family conies together, reads from the Bible and prays together. Besides the significant edifying benefit for all, the children will learn to sit still for 15 or 20 minutes, and they will soon be able to do the same in church services.)
3. Teach the children to be honest, and why they should be honest. Train them in modesty and teach them why they should be modest. Teach them to be kind and considerate, and why. Warn them of drink, dope, fornication, sodomy and cigarettes, and show them why these things are wrong and why they should be avoided. Help them to see the great danger in “little things” — little white lies, just one drink, etc.
4. Take time to see the good in your child — and offer generous praise for every desirable quality and action. If he is a good boy, let him know you are aware of it, and that you appreciate it-and that you trust him to continue so.
5. When he faces moral or spiritual conflicts in school, be firm in insisting that he do right and that you will defend him with school officials as he resists and refuses to be involved in dancing, near-nudity and school programs that interfere with his religions life. In spite of evils that are increasingly prevalent in the public schools, I believe that faithful parents and welltrained children can overcome if they will and that they can do so in such a way as to usually win respect of others and certainly to be able to have a happy school experience.
Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” Make that the cornerstone of the foundation in the life of your children. Let the words of Christ not only be your goal for yourself and for the children, but help the children to make those same words their objective in life also. Next: “Parenthood And Patterns.”
Truth Magazine XXII: 14, pp. 230-231
April 6, 1978