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Jun 24, 2009, 8:40 AM | Article By: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye

Most children have problems communicating with their parents and particularly with their dads.

The reason is that dad is away from home most of the time or is not prone to childrearing - a task believed to be attributed to mothers. Yet, the child needs her mother as well as her father because the three together make up the family. Communications is one of the tools that can break all the barriers and inhibitions and give the children the confidence to share with their parents experiences they can learn from. Communications make way for better understanding. 

Fathers have a responsibility vis-à-vis their children as the head of the household. And they should be someone the children can look up to. A father who comes home drunk, batters his wife daily and swears at the kids estranges the atmosphere and would rarely serve as a role model to the children. He becomes a model of shame and disgust - a pestering wound. In such an atmosphere there is strife and stress impeding the child's growth.

Children study their parents' behaviour and take note of how they treat and relate to each other. Our relationship as parents will mark their future relationships as well, because unknowingly we set a pattern for them to follow.

Bible instructs through the writings of the Apostle Paul that husbands must love their wives. "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself." (Ephesians 5:28) You may think it is impossible, but it is biblical. Have you tried loving your wife as yourself? It is something we must develop to make for peace in the home and inspire an atmosphere of togetherness and mutual confidence.

Fathers are leaders in the home. "Behold, children are the heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalm 127:3) Children ought to be a blessing for us to enjoy, not a burden.

We should therefore not seek to avoid or ignore them. Rather, we need to spend time with them. Some parents fail to realise there is limited time we have to spend with our children. Like fruits when they are ripe they will fall off the tree in order to start living a life of their own. Share precious time with them.

This has nothing to do with our culture, be it African or otherwise. It is God's desire that it should happen this way.

Parents need to be accessible and approachable so that their children can talk to them like friends. The children must be able to empty out anything that they have on their minds that are bogging them. They must know and feel that parents have their interests at heart and they can find ready and workable answers to their multiple problems or questions. All it takes is a listening ear. We therefore must find time to listen to them, to give them our undivided attention.

God requires of our children to be obedient to us. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. 'Honour your father and your mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." (Ephesians 6:1) "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4) Both parties have an undertaking here.

Children must obey their parents as long as they are reasonable.

A trained child is a testimony that s/he obeyed his/her parents. We need not provoke them to anger unnecessarily. Children can understand where we are coming from if we sit them down and talk to them one on one.

The development of one child in the Bible attracts our attention though. We read in the Gospels that ".the child (Jesus) grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him." (Luke 2:40) "Then he (Jesus) went down with them (Mary and Joseph) and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men." (Luke 2:51)

This child Jesus was a subject of admiration. Because He was obedient to his parents that brought Him up, he was able to grow in stature, grow in wisdom, grow in the eyes of God and grow in favour with people.

Though a very special child, Jesus at the age of twelve amazed His parents. Once whilst on a visit to Jerusalem, Jesus spent time ".sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking questions." (Luke 2:46) He was discussing with learned men in the synagogue issues relating to God, his Father.

Jesus grew in wisdom. How receptive would our children be to the word of God? Our duty, like Mary and Joseph, is to teach them the Bible that would guide them and prepare them for adulthood. Of course we assume that the child is willing to learn and be taught.

Jesus grew in stature. Parents must be concerned about their children's health. Nothing that would hinder their growth should be encouraged. It is important to seek God's face in matters relating to a healthy development.

Jesus grew in God's eyes. Parents must desire that their children come into a personal knowledge and understanding of God - He who has protected them from birth and brought them thus far.   

Jesus grew in favour with people. Every child will come into contact with people in this world. They must be taught how to behave and comport themselves that the name of God may be glorified.

One final word for our children penned by Paul to his adopted son Timothy: "But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (Timothy 3.15)