Children are challenging in the best of times; I know, I have three. After a long day, you find a school project that is due…when else…tomorrow morning. A missed school bus means you haul them to school and are late for work. Sleepless nights become the norm once they start driving. It’s hard. Sometimes you wish you could just check out for a day or two. But you cannot. Parents are vital. You are vital.
School shootings remind us how much children need us. The recent shooting in Uvalde, Texas reveals and 18 year old estranged from both parents. Shootings are the most extreme example of parental failure but they are not the only evidence that too many parents are working in absentia. School fights have grown more dangerous, involve more students, result in greater injuries, and even involve teachers and administrators. These below-the-radar events point directly to failed parenting and failed education systems. Any attempt to fix these problems which does not include parental improvement will fail.
For most youth, school is the first step into the broader society. If we fail to fix the poor parenting problem now we will all suffer later. Parents aren’t the only problem but they are fundamental.
Parents Are Vital Because They Are The Best Teachers
Parents must not discount their role in the development of a child. Public school teachers are outstanding professionals trained to teach students science, technology, engineering, math, language skills, literature, and history. They are neither trained nor allowed to teach foundational morality. That task belongs to the parents.
Given the importance of proper child-rearing, it is not surprising that the Bible has much to say.
Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children…Deuteronomy 4:9
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.Deuteronomy 6:7 – 9
And what is perhaps the best known:
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.Proverbs 22:6
Parents are the first, best models for adulthood. We learn how to be adults by watching the adults of our youth, hence the old saw, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” The parents and grandmother of the Uvalde shooter all had run-ins with the legal system. While there are always exceptions, children tend to mimic their parent’s values, especially through their teen years.
Parents Are Vital Because They Teach the Best Lessons.
Neither of my parents completed college. Mom was a homemaker, and dad was a salesman. They knew little about algebra and less about the sciences, but they taught me the best and most important life lessons.
Lesson One: The Golden Rule
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.Matthew 7:12
Treating others the way you want to be treated is sorely missing from our society. If a child learns to apply the Golden Rule early, she will be better suited to make a positive impact on the world around her. Otherwise, a child becomes self-centered with little regard for others.
Just stop and think of the adult world in which you live. Concern for others is rare. Leaders think of themselves first. Others are merely tools to satisfy some need.
A corollary to the Golden Rule is found in Matthew 22. A man asks Jesus a perfectly reasonable question. “What is the greatest commandment” (vs. 36)? Jesus’ answer was predictable. He told the man that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. But the second may have caught the man off guard. Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to “love your neighbor as yourself” (vs. 39). The command was not simply to love your neighbor but to love him in the same way you love yourself!
Consider the child who is taught both these principles. What would be his behavior in the home when playing with his brothers and sisters or cousins? What becomes of such a child when he arrives in kindergarten and advances through school? He would surely be a child to be proud of. Such principles do not come naturally; devoted parents must teach them.
Lesson Two: Hard Work is Good
A healthy man lives from his own work, not the labors of others. Economists are divided, but some think the COVID pandemic revealed a willingness to avoid work while taking enhanced payments from the government. The Bible is clear: “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Paul was again very clear in 1 Timothy 5:8 when he said that a man who fails to provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever! Children should learn to work early and not to be satisfied with slothfulness.
Jesus was the son of a carpenter. He would have been thoroughly associated with the backbreaking work and callused hands. Some of His apostles were fishermen who labored through good weather and bad. Hard work was good for them.
Parents are vital in teaching a child to work. Home chores are not simply for your convenience but for the proper development of youth. Rewards come to a child who works hard at school. The parent must model and teach the habit of hard work. It’s Biblical, and it’s profitable for life.
Lesson Three: Respect
It is important to be respectful of others while expecting nothing in return! Maybe a return to the days of “yes sir, no sir” is not required (although that would be nice), but parents should teach children always to show respect for others. Respect is not an earned commodity. It is a freely given attitude that says more about the giver than the recipient. Respect begins at home and must follow the student through school. A disrespectful child reflects on his parents.
Paul said much about the government. Among other things, he instructs us to “give honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:7). Could he be speaking of the Romans? The pagans? Does he dare suggest giving respect to the very people who persecuted the Christians? Yes! As the rulers of his nation, Paul asserted that respect was to be given to them.
When Paul faced the accusations of the Jewish Sanhedrin just before being sent to Rome, he grew angry and showed great disrespect to the High Priest. Read Acts 23: 1 – 5. Ananias, the High Priest, ordered his servants to strike Paul on the mouth. He responded that God would strike him and called him a “white-washed wall.” He apologized when he learned that the man was God’s, High Priest. In the extreme of persecution, Paul still sought to show respect.
How a family talks in the home teaches a child much about respect. Talk bad about your children’s teachers and principals, and children will do the same. Talk about your boss in disrespectful tones, and you teach your child to do the same. Speak well of those you disagree with, and the young ones will see that respect and imitate it.
In all things, dear reader, let the Golden Rule, rule, love others, and show respect to all (Matthew 7:12; Matthew 22:39). Parents are vital. Your children are counting on you!
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