By H.E. Phillips
As parents, do you believe you must give account to God for the training of your children? Do you believe it will have anything to do with your eternal destiny? Do you believe it is possible for you to rear your children in the chastening and admonition of the Lord? What is your present attitude toward rearing your children? These are very challenging questions for every father and mother and they must be addressed.
It is important to use time in the most profitable way. Parents have approximately twenty years to develop, teach, train, and prepare a child for adulthood and eternity. To fail at either is to make a grievous mistake that will have disastrous consequences in both time and eternity. It is therefore of the most serious importance that parents begin with the birth of the child to use these twenty years to complete the greatest task they can undertake.
When Should Parents Begin to Teach Their Children?
Many traits of character and habits begin with the first weeks after birth. Every child goes through these stages: infancy, babyhood, childhood, adolescence and adulthood. In every stage there are special things to teach and emphasize. Through these stages the child is continually changing, accordingly, the things taught and the method of teaching must change. Many important things should be said on this subject, but space prohibits further discussion at this time.
Parents must learn the needs of their children early and adapt the substance taught with the best method for the child’s disposition and age level. Successful teaching requires understanding, patience, vigilance, persistence, determination, and a lot of faith and prayer. Good parents will teach the important things over and over again through these years of development, and with greater intensity as the child matures. The early years are vital to proper development of character, disposition and obedience, and are the stepping stones to a strong faith in God and his word.
How Should Parents Teach Their Children? ‘
The place to begin is with a genuine love for the child and his welfare. The inspired apostle Paul said that even if he had the speech of angels, and the understanding, knowledge, and faith to move mountains, and sacrificed his body to be burned, and had not love, he was nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3). This love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; it suffers long. A child knows when he is loved and when he is not. This is true of all of us. I can tell when a brother or sister does not love me, even though he smiles and says nice things.
The love that parents should have for their children will be kind and longsuffering. That does not mean that parents should be compromising with truth or tolerate disobedience. Discipline is necessary in expressing true love. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb. 12:6). Firm, just, and fair discipline, administered with love for the child, is essential to the child’s good, and parents rob their children when it is not lovingly, justly and impartially given to every child. The real problem with discipline is that often parents lack the love, patience and understanding of the child’s need. The physical and emotional abuse of children results from the unjust, impatient and ignorant discipline by parents.
Unselfishly giving to the children the necessary things of life. The Father of lights gives us every good and perfect gift from above (Jas. 1:17). Parents owe their children so much in preparing them for life here and hereafter. Children know when parents give them the leftovers of their time and energy. Parents should give some prime time to their children. They should talk to them often about things that are important to them. Show a genuine interest in their problems as well as their goals and aspirations.
Parents must do their best to provide their children with food, clothing, shelter, education and other necessities of life. If one does not provide for his own, and that includes his children, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel (1 Tim. 5:8). If you stop to think about this statement, the one who does not provide for his own house, has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. Such a person will certainly not go to heaven!
What Do Parents Teach Their Children?
The physical condition of your child depends upon what you feed him and how he exercises. The same is true of his mental, emotional and spiritual being.
The most important thing you can put into the mind of your child is the Word of God. Respect for it as the only standard of right and wrong must become as much a part of your child’s life as his awareness of his own personal needs. When children know and believe the Bible, they will understand the importance and place of true love (1 Cor. 13), the real meaning and purpose of life (1 Pet. 3:10-12), the place and importance of law (Jas. 1:22-27; Gal. 6:2), and the strength and anchor of the hope of eternal life (Rom. 8:24,25; Tit. 1:2; 1 Jn. 2:25).
Teach your children to pray every day, and to expect God to hear and answer their prayers for their good and God’s glory. Teach your children to seek truth and right, and to shun evil and evil companionship (1 Cor. 15:33). Do this on every level of their lives. Teach them that they will reap what they sow (Gal. 6:7,8). Teach them to have responsibility from early age. Teach.them good manners and respect for others and their property. Teach them to honor their parents (Eph. 6:2,3). Teach them to have respect for themselves, their minds and bodies, and to have good conscience in all things.
Teach your children about sex and its place in their lives. Instill in their hearts the evils and consequences of fornication, adultery and homosexuality. Teach them the dangers and consequenc s of premarital sex. Teach them about drugs, alcohol and tobacco and their destructive power. Teach them about the danger of yielding to peer pressure. Teach them the importance of selecting their companions.
Teach your children obedience from childhood; this is very important for them to go to heaven (Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20; Rom. 1:30-32; 2 Tim. 3:45). Disobedience involves several things which are condemned in the word of God. It means to despise authority; to be stubborn. It means to be unthankful (Rom. 1:21), which is a dangerous attitude. It means to be unholy (1 Tim. 1:9). It is without natural affection (Rom. 1:31); implacable: unreconcilable. It is characteristic of children of hell (Jude 3; Rom. 1:26). Most people do not include all of this in disobedience, but it involves all because it is motivated by a mind that will not submit to authority, but walks by one’s own will and sensual appetites. Children must be taught obedience all their lives, and must learn that they are to teach this to their children.
There are three main areas your child needs to be developed:
1. Prepare them to serve God. No phase of your child’s life is more important than his spiritual life. Fail at this, and a soul is lost in eternity. Your child must be taught the word of God so that he becomes a Christian. A great ball player, lawyer, doctor, teacher, is a failure if he is not a Christian because life is short and eternity never ends (Jas. 4:13). It is not enough to be just a Christian, he must be a true wor shipper of God (Jn. 4:22-24). Children should be taught to have the love and desire to evangelize the world.
2. Prepare them for marriage and parenthood. The serious problem of divorce in this age attests to the failure of parents to prepare their children for this very important part of their lives. Most of your children will select a mate and marry at some time in the future. The teaching and training of your children will assure the care and teaching of your grandchildren (2 Tim. 1:5). Teach your son and daughter how to select a mate and how to be good husbands and wives. Teach your children how to be good parents to teach their children the right things and prepare them for life and eternity.
3. Prepare them for this life with success. Every child needs direction and encouragement in becoming a good citizen. Obedience to civil law is obedience to God’s law (Rom. 13:1-5; 1 Pet. 2:13,14). Not only must parents tell the child how to be an honest and submissive citizen, but they must show them by being good citizens themselves. Children and teenagers need strong teaching and supervision in this area of their lives.
Children must be provided with education and skills to prepare them for the business world. They must be taught to have good and honest attitudes toward work and money.
Children must be taught to honor their fathers and mothers (Eph. 6:2). Honor means to hold in high regard. It also means to provide for their needs when they are old. They should also learn to show piety at home and to requite their parents (1 Tim. 5:4). Parents should so conduct themselves during the lifetime of the children as to be honored and respected by them while they are young and when they are grown.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 12, pp. 354, 390
June 15, 1989