May 9, 2008, 7:02 AM
Not all of us can with hindsight proudly say we were privileged by our parents during our childhood or adolescence. Not all of us can tap our parents on the back either for having taught us how to live, as not all of them would have performed their roles with excellence.
Probably you are one of those who were left to their whims and fancies and were not given much direction or advice. There was no pattern for you to follow or examples to go by. You were so stubborn and would not listen and they had difficulty putting you on the right path. You wanted to do things your way and therefore would not budge. You decided to face the world single-handed. You grew up in an environment where you thought the rules were not meant for you or were meant to be broken. As a result you have never paid heed, and it has been costly.
Society has its rules and regulations, its prescriptions for living, built on the standards set by God. We cannot just ignore them or discard them as bogus, cumbersome and unnecessary. There is a reason why God gave them in the first place. We ought to pay heed. Hauling them out of the window without regard to their essence would be foolhardy.
During my childhood, the fear of the rod, was a ready disincentive to disobedience. Our parents were conversant with Bible instructions: "Don't hesitate to discipline children. A good spanking won't kill them. As a matter of fact, it may save their lives." (Proverbs 23:13) "If you do not punish your son, you don't love him. If you do love him, you will correct him." (Proverbs 13:24)
Parents must teach obedience to their children as it is a trait that should characterise the life of every child. It is the pathway to righteousness; meaning, to doing what is right. When we learn to obey instructions that early we tend to 'grow with it' and it becomes an intrinsic part of our lives.
We therefore must seek to obey our parents. The Bible teaches "honour your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you." (Deuteronomy 5:16) This is the only commandment with a promise. That you may live long! If you know of any child that has not lived long, check his record of behaviour vis-à-vis his parents.
When a child fails to fit the mould society has set for it from the home setting something goes amiss. The child does not fit at home, neither outside the home. Some very minor things come to mind: respect for elders. When a child does not respect his superiors or elders it is because he has not been taught to respect elders. The child in a Christian must learn to love others: "This is my commandment: Love each other." (john )
The child's only reference during early childhood is the parents. Very often we hear children during these formative years say 'mum says this, daddy says that.' They believe firmly in what their parents tell them to do and would not depart from it. Somewhere and somehow they realise it is for their own good.
It is important for parents to teach their children, at a tender age, how to pray by praying together. Pray with them when you get up from bed in the morning, pray before meals and pray before going to bed. They need not be long prayers. A one-minute prayer acknowledging God as the be-all and the end-all, the Alpha and the Omega is suitable and adequate. Prayers of thanksgiving for God's goodness and mercy during a particular day would help the child to recognise that things don't just happen because we want them to. God is that hidden hand guiding and keeping us from harm and danger. His name must be glorified.
What is essential here is to see or hear children pray all on their own, in their own language after a time. This way of doing things becomes an integral part of them as they grow. In the long run they identify with it. When a family prays together, they stick together and they walk in righteousness and in the fear of God the Almighty. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Proverbs 9:10)
Our Lord Jesus loved children. When the disciples thought they were a bother and a nuisance, He told them: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the
Children can be compared to pitchers; what you put in them is what they will retain except there is a leak. We must be careful then about what we put into their heads. Unfortunately, nowadays most parents are away from home much of the time trying to earn a living and have abandoned their children to maids and houseboys. What is worse, they are at the mercy of television. Unbelievers rule the highway in matters of entertainment and they thrust anything at our kids that they believe to be gospel truth. To our utter consternation, we find out that it is not what we have taught them that is portrayed in their behaviour.
It is what our children see us do that they will copy as the standard for living. Very often parents do no pay heed to this, they waive it off by saying they are children. Yes, they are children in the mould. Mum and dad's behaviour signal a green light that it is acceptable practice, if not the norm.
No case is a hopeless case for our Lord Jesus. If you are at your wits end, make an appeal to Him for help. Children are our inheritance. We have an obligation to raise them according to the precepts laid down by God and this can be found in the Bible. It is never too late to hand over the case of an unruly child to Jesus so s/he can be melted, moulded and made whole again.
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6.33) To let your children 'gro wit am,' start now.