By Irvin Himmel
Every parent should be deeply interested in the physical, moral and spiritual welfare of his or her offspring. Children are a wonderful blessing from God. Their upbringing presents a great, challenge to both father and mother. Parental responsibility demands. wisdom, patience, courage, sympathy, love, and a lot of other attributes.
Some parents, perhaps unwittingly, do their children grave injustices. The following are a few of the ways in which mothers and fathers wrong their sons and daughters:
Some parents would like to see their children stay in that precious stage of being cute little babies. Occasionally a remark like this is heard by a mother who holds a lovely child in her arms: “Isn’t it awful that they have to grow up?” But is it really awful? Growth is natural. Only retarded children fail to grow up. I have always been thankful that my children are not retarded, and I have rejoiced to see them grow and mature.
Parents are foolish not to accept growth as a normal part of life. Treating a growing youth as if a little baby does much harm. The immaturity shown by some youngsters in their late teens and early twenties reflects the results of parents’ treating them like babies instead of maturing young men and women. Life is not all fun and games. Young people need to learn from their parents that they are expected to think and act more maturely with each passing year.
In this age of great material prosperity many parents give their children virtually everything they desire – if it can be bought with money. Teenagers drive costly cars, own expensive stereo outfits, have the latest electronic gadgets for entertainment, spend lavishly on recreation, and expect the “old man” to furnish all of this plus food, clothing, and a room.
The indulgent manner in which young people are reared contributes to irresponsible behavior, lack of appreciation for blessings, and inability to cope with hardships. Mother and daddy, you do your child no favor by endless pampering. Learn the difference between loving care and overindulgence.
(3) Neglecting Discipline
Many children have the freedom to do just about what they please. There is precious little restraint. Although they are not capable of making certain decisions, their parents leave them without direction and guidance. These parents who are permissive toward their offspring are not doing them a favor. Good parents say “no” to whatever is not in the best interests of their children.
Fathers and mothers need to train their children to accept responsibilities. Girls to be taught to sew and cook. Boys should be taught to work. I know that in some cases it is less bother for a parent to do a job than to stay after Johnny or Mary, reminding and perhaps threatening punishment, but if Johnny and Mary are allowed to be lazy, in later years they will suffer the consequences. Parents do their children a serious wrong when they do not teach them (by whatever means necessary) to work around the house.
(4) Ignoring Needs
We bristle with righteous indignation when we read a newspaper account of parents who have failed to provide food, clothing, and medical care for their children. Child abuse takes on a variety of forms. A parent may provide aft the temporal necessities and still ignore the personal attention that should be given to the problems which a child encounters. Some children are starved for affection from their own parents!
A father who is gone from home except for occasional weekend visits could be losing his son or daughter without realizing it. I feel strongly that some preachers have become so wrapped up in preaching, traveling and teaching, dealing with marriage problems and controversies in the church, that they have failed to take the time to help their own children. It is sad that some parents have so little time for their sons and daughters.
Then there are parents who are keenly aware of all the needs which their offspring have except the most important – their spiritual training. Even among Christians, there are parents who pay no attention to whether or not their children attend Bible classes, study their lessons, and behave properly during church services. Every father needs to give personal attention to the spiritual life of his children.
(5) Setting Bad Examples
It should be obvious to parents that they do an injustice when they fail to teach their children by wholesome example. A child learns quickly that his mother and father do not really mean what they say – when they are seen doing the opposite.
Parents, let us take a good look at ourselves. We may be just too easy-going. Do we look the other way when we ought to show firmness in dealing with our children? Do our youngsters feel close to mom and pop, or somewhat estranged due to our lack of interest in them? Our children need our help. Let’s provide it!
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 20, pp. 609, 624
October 20, 1983