(Or, bringing our children up to obey the Lord and us)
This article is a short piece from my mother, written many years ago.
"There are three things I felt strongly about when I was trying to bring up my children.
My parents reared my siblings and me on these guidelines, and I tried to do the same with our family. As parents, we can only try, while depending on God for His help.
No.1. Let's talk about Obedience. The Lord emphasises obedience in many scriptures throughout the Bible, both to the children and the parents. Colossians 3:20 exhorts children to obey their parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to God. While Ephesians 6:2 tells them to honour their parents.
Parents are to live their lives so that their children can respect, honour and be obedient to them. Children need to be taught to obey. It doesn't come naturally. Most kids like to do their own thing and do not take kindly to discipline.
For me, there are two ways of teaching. One is by instruction, and the other by example. By living Godly lives in front of your children, they will respect what you say and do.
I remember an incident years ago. A youngster was swearing, and her mother was told about it. The mother reprimanded the child. But considering the child had learned it at home, what the mother said in admonishment had little effect on the child.
When we were at home as kids, I remember mum telling us, "When you hear your father swear, you can swear, and not before." We never ever heard dad swear, so mum thought she was safe in saying it. However, one day, dad was mending his boots in the shed. The hammer slipped and hit him square on the thumb. Dad let out, "DAMN!" Well, that was it for the six of us, as we ran around the house saying, "DAMN, DAMN, DAMN, DAMN!" We felt great. I suppose secretly we were waiting for him to slip up. Mum put a quick stop to our new verbal freedom.
Once a child has been taught to obey, it is much easier to deal with them. If obedience is instilled into them, it paves the way for obedience to God.
No 2. The next principle is Honesty. 2 Corinthians 8:21 instructs us to provide things honest, not only in the sight of the Lord but also in humankind. If honesty is instilled into a child, that child can go in and out of all sorts of places that have many allurements, yet the thought of stealing will not occur to them. The temptation is simply not there. So, we have provided a safeguard for our children.
Here is where the parents come into it. We should never do dishonest things ourselves. The children learn by watching a parents life. They only need to see the parent involved in one dishonest act to erase any acceptable words of correction. Teaching a child to be honest is again paving the way for them to be honest with God, as it becomes a way of life. I recall an incident when my mother was dealing with one of my siblings. A pencil was taken from school and brought home. Mum found out and marched the child back to school to return the pencil to the teacher and apologise.
By prayer and her obedience to God and His Word, Mum did all she knew to teach her children the same values of obedience and honesty.
No. 3 is Truthfulness In Psalm 51:6, we read, "behold, thou desirest truth on the inward parts..." These are the parts only God sees. This again challenges the parents.
For instance, the phone or doorbell might ring from an unwanted caller, and the parent tells the child to say, "Tell them I'm not home." Although not outwardly visible, an instance like this can enter into the child sowing a seed of untruth. Children learn very quickly. When faced with a decision to choose right or wrong, they often choose wrong if the seed has been sown. When the right seeds have been implanted in the child's heart and become their way of life, how much easier is it for them to be truthful to the Lord?
We can see how vital it is for us parents to be good examples to our children as we are bringing them up. We are not only training them to live in this world, but to be obedient, honest, and truthful before God and before their fellow human beings. We are preparing them for eternity. So let us obey our Lord in all things, being honest and truthful in the things we do and say. May the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth and bless our ways as we walk in the steps of our Saviour."
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, these challenging points remind me of what you desire in parents as they rear children. Even now, please help me be a great example of these three principles, not only to my own children but to everyone.
Photo by Seema Miah