For Your Child . . . You Are the Greatest Gift!
A SMALL boy is excited, waiting impatiently for Saturday to come. His father is taking him to the zoo! All week long he has lived the day in his mind—he’s watched the seals streak through the water, he’s dropped peanuts into the trunks of the huge elephants towering above him, he’s thrilled to the roars of the lions as the keeper comes to feed them. He can’t wait!
Time drags, but Saturday finally does come. Then his father says to him: “Something’s come up. There’s no time to go to the zoo.” The boy sits in a roomful of expensive toys, heartbroken, tearful, feeling abandoned.
Years pass. The boy is grown, married, has a son of his own. He’s going to take his boy to the zoo, but when the day comes he says to his son: “Something’s come up. There’s no time to go to the zoo.” As he leaves the house he makes a mental note to buy his son a toy, then gives his mind over to the serious business at hand.
More years pass. Now he is old, living alone and lonely. But today his grown son is coming to visit him! His eyes glow with anticipation. Then the phone rings, and his son tells him: “Something’s come up. There’s no time to visit you.” Slowly the old man returns the phone to its cradle, the light gone from his eyes. He picks up a newspaper and holds it out in front of him, but his eyes are moist and see nothing. His mind travels back over the years, remembering other times long ago, and he hears the words out of the past: “Something’s come up. There’s no time.”
Parents must make time for their children. The giving of material things is not enough. Toys can be a delight, but they get broken, or children tire of them. The more they get the more they want, and a materialistic view of life develops. The real need of the child is for love, and the best proof of your love is giving yourself.
In some countries cars have plastered on their rear bumpers the question, “Have you hugged your kid today?” A psychiatrist in Florida adds: “A child who does not get enough hugging or cuddling may grow up to be withdrawn, detached or aloof. . . . Physical body contact between parent and child is so essential in child rearing that in some cases children who were not hugged or cuddled during the first year of their lives did not survive.”
In a business seminar, the report was given of a hospital ward filled with orphaned babies. In a long row of beds babies became ill and some of them died, except in the last bed in the row. In that bed the babies always did well. The doctor in charge could not figure it out. Nurses cared for all of them equally. All were fed, bathed, kept warm—no difference in their care. Yet all babies had health problems and some died—except the one in the last bed. As months passed and new babies were brought in, the story was always the same.
Finally the doctor, after checking everything he could think of, concealed himself to watch all night. Nurses came in, the babies were fed on time, all were cared for equally. About midnight the cleaning woman came in. On hands and knees she scrubbed the floor, from one end of the ward to the other. At the end she stood up, stretched and rubbed her tired back, and walked over to the last bed. She bent over, picked up the baby, and walked around the floor talking to it, stroking it, cuddling it and rocking it in her arms. Finally she put it back in its bed and moved on in her work.
This did not seem significant to the doctor; she just happened to stop at that bed. Nevertheless, he watched the next night, and the same thing happened. And the next night. And the next. Every night the scrubwoman stretched at the same spot, and every night it was the baby in the last bed that got talked to, stroked, cuddled and loved. And it thrived.
War orphans brought to the United States for adoption suffered from many different diseases, but they suffered the most from privations of the heart. The report on this said:
“The solemn children of war touch and grasp and cling. They love to be held. They are suffering the ‘Orphans’ Syndrome.’ . . . Even some older children were carried like babies off the buses that brought them here Tuesday from Travis Air Force Base. They stared and wrapped their thin arms and legs around volunteers. ‘It’s a fairly profound need and can’t be satisfied by being patted on the head or dandled on a knee,’ Stalcup [physician in charge] said. ‘It’s a fact that in order to grow, children need love, not just food and water.’”
And if they don’t grow emotionally they may become withdrawn, hostile, delinquent, and possibly murderers, even of their own parents. Failure to receive gifts of toys will not do this, but failure to receive love can cause it.
Dr. James Dobson wrote not only of the need for love, but also of the need for that controversial activity, discipline. He said:
“It is my firm conviction that the most healthy home environment for children involves a careful balance between two essential ingredients: love and control. When these are properly implemented, each child knows he is loved beyond measure and that his parents value him infinitely as a human being. But he also learns that their love compels them to teach him and guide him and lead him—and perhaps discipline him when he refuses to obey. . . .
“The views I’ve expressed in this statement are not experimental or speculative, nor can I even claim them as uniquely my own. They represent an approach to child management which has existed for 2,000 years within the Judeo-Christian heritage. They are not based on abstruse theoretical assumptions, but rather on practical consequences. As Jack London has stated, ‘The best measurement of anything should be: does it work?’ When properly applied, loving adult leadership works!”
Long before Jack London declared this precept, Jesus Christ announced it: “Wisdom is proved righteous by its works.” (Matt. 11:19) Commenting on the modern trend of some psychologists to advocate the abdication of parental authority and follow the course of permissiveness with children, Dr. Dobson concludes his article: “I hope Americans will not abandon their rich heritage of values to follow the pied pipers of behavioral nonsense, particularly with reference to our children.”
Withhold the giving of yourself to your child, and it senses that it is unwanted. All the toys in the world are no substitute for a loving parent, one who, along with material provisions and gifts, gives himself. For the child’s spiritual development the family circle is vital. This fact was well understood in ancient Israel. The child was an integral part of the family. He was schooled at home, taught a trade by working with parents, and recreation was available within the extended family.
Today in the present system in many parts of the world the tendency is to supply the child’s needs outside the family. He is sent away to school, sent away to Sunday school, sent away to summer camp, sent away to the movies, sent away to work. Or when the parents go away he may be left behind with a baby-sitter. Thrust out of the family nucleus, circling in orbit at a distance as it were, he comes to feel, if only subconsciously, that he does not really belong. He feels neglected, unwanted, unloved, surrounded by a hostile world of grown-ups.
Such children understandably become bitter and attempt to take out their frustration either upon the individuals they feel have neglected to give them the love they deserve, or upon society in general. They lose respect for their parents and, oftentimes, adults in general. The generation gap takes root and grows. They may run away from home and end up in big cities confronted with crime, drugs, prostitution and other problems they are woefully incapable of coping with.
The key to solving the problem is love within the family, from the child’s birth onward. If all adults lived by the principles set forth in the Bible, the problems with children would be greatly reduced.
Where would all the victimized children of broken homes, caused by divorces and separations, be if all married couples would follow the advice of the Bible at 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11?—“To the married people I give instructions . . . that a wife should not depart from her husband . . . and a husband should not leave his wife.”
Where would all the neglected and mistreated children of drunken fathers and mothers be if parents would follow the advice of the Bible at Ephesians 5:18 and Romans 13:13?—“Do not be getting drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery.” “Let us walk decently, not in revelries and drunken bouts, not in illicit intercourse and loose conduct, not in strife and jealousy.”
Where would all the mistreated, beaten and battered children be if parents would follow the advice given at Colossians 3:21 and Titus 2:4?—“You fathers, do not be exasperating your children, so that they do not become downhearted.” “Recall the young women to their senses to love their husbands, to love their children.”
Where would all the children who feel that grown-ups are not interested in them be if parents would follow the advice of Deuteronomy 11:19?—“You must also teach them [divine principles] to your sons, so as to speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.”
In short, where would all the unwanted and unloved children be if adults copied Jesus’ example at Mark 10:14, 16?—“‘Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them’ . . . And he took the children into his arms and began blessing them.”
For that matter, where would all the world be if it followed the rule Christ Jesus set forth at Matthew 7:12?—“All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.”
Jehovah God proved his love for mankind: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16.
Jesus proved his love by giving his life: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.”—Matt. 20:28.
When the resurrected Jesus Christ ascended into heaven he gave to the Christian congregation “gifts in men.”—Eph. 4:8.
Jehovah God gave his only-begotten Son. Jesus gave himself. He also gave men as gifts to serve his congregation. Moreover, as busy as Jesus was, as important as his mission was, he always gave time to children.* Parents, copy these examples of giving. Give of yourselves to your children. Give your love. Give your time. Be cautious about saying, “There’s no time.” If you sow these words, you may end up reaping them. It is important to make time. Not just on the one day of the year set aside by the world as gift-giving time, but every day.
Remember, you are the most important gift you can give to your child!
See the article on pages 27, 28.
[Blurb on page 6]
“The solemn children of war touch and grasp and cling.”
[Blurb on page 7]
“Wisdom is proved righteous by its works.”
[Blurb on page 8]
“Do not be exasperating your children, so that they do not become downhearted.”
[Blurb on page 8]
“Be cautious about saying, ‘There’s no time.’”