Are You Preparing Your Children for Their ‘Flight’?
THE majestic eagle makes a good parent. She takes an interest in her young, protects and feeds them. While her babies are little, she places food right in their mouths. As her young ones mature, she teaches them to feed themselves.
But to survive they must learn to fly. So she makes her young ones exercise their wings by playing a jumping game. And when they are ready, the eagle “stirs up its nest.” It lures and nudges the reluctant fledglings to the edge of the nest. Some eaglets bravely attempt to fly. Less courageous ones are unceremoniously shoved into the air! The mother, however, is ready to swoop under them and even ‘carry them on her pinions’—only to drop them again until they learn to fly.—Deuteronomy 32:11.
Tragically, many young adults are not at all ready for their “flight” into life. Dr. Richard C. Robertiello talks of the permissive child-rearing theories that became popular in the early 1950’s: “Parents went out of their way to be affectionate, demonstrative, indulgent of the child’s needs and very permissive about his behavior.”
While this approach had some success, the fruitage of these theories is a generation of adults who “do not seem to be able to choose a profession, to earn a decent living, to channel their . . . talents into some meaningful career.” Such ones “come to us therapists lost and floundering.” Why? “They were presented with a situation . . . essentially devoid of hardships, deprivations, and challenges . . . The parents promised them a rose garden where there was just an ordinary field that included a good many weeds.”
Life is by no means a “rose garden.” Unprepared children are “as sheep amidst wolves” in a vicious materialistic world. (Matthew 10:16) It is therefore imperative that you prepare your child for survival. But when should such training begin?
Carmen, a mother of three, saw a need for early training and recalls: “When my son was just a few months old, I would train him to do things on his own. For example, I wouldn’t just pick him up. I would hold his little fingers and he would hold on while I raised him up.”
Children who are preschoolers even can learn duties such as ‘dressing, brushing their hair, washing themselves, putting away toys,’ according to Dr. Robertiello.
What about older children, though? The Bible shows that Joseph and David—successful adults—learned responsibility by performing various chores when young. (Genesis 37:2; 1 Samuel 16:11) Is such training still practical?
Bob and Mary, parents of three fine young men, say Yes! “We prepared our sons for life when they were little bitty guys.” And with a smile Bob says: “They all had paper routes, and I wouldn’t take them around in the car if the sky was falling! I said, ‘That’s your job and you’re responsible!’” But was this cruel and unusual punishment? Bob explains: “We provided their clothes, furnished their food and lodging. But we felt that if they wanted ‘extra’ they had to work for it.” Such training paid off. Bob adds: “Not long ago one of my grown sons came up and said: ‘Dad, thank you for bringing us up right.’”
Frank and Dawna likewise say: “We taught our boys everything! They can cook, paint, can, garden, lay cement blocks, shop.” Dawna further observes: “It’s easy for a mother to say, ‘I don’t have time to teach them. It’s easier to do it myself.’ But in the long run it pays to give them this training.”
On the other hand, children who are unnecessarily dependent on their parents can “turn into unmotivated, under-achieving students, dissatisfied and difficult employees, and impossible, demanding spouses,” according to Dr. Jerome Singer. Well did the Bible say in this regard: “If one is pampering one’s servant from youth on, in his later life he will even become a thankless one.”—Proverbs 29:21.
Young adults also need a standard of right and wrong if they are to “fly” through today’s greedy, immoral, materialistic society unscathed. But how does one give such training?
Bob and Mary, mentioned earlier, are Jehovah’s Witnesses. They therefore saw the value of having a regular study of the Bible with their children. Was this easy to do? Admits Bob: “To sit down and have this study and make it interesting was hard. But we made it a regular routine.” Study was supplemented with wholesome association and recreation for the family. And working with their sons in the door-to-door preaching activity was of particular value. “We had some of our best conversations going from door to door,” recalls Mary.
The results of this hard work are heartwarming. All three sons are devoted servants of God. If you would like to institute a similar program for your family, Jehovah’s Witnesses would be pleased to let you know how it can be done. Don’t wait until they are teenagers or adults to give this life-giving education. Train them while they are young and responsive to your influence.
Parents who take the time to prepare their children for life can even feel happy about letting go.
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One of my grown sons said: “Dad, thank you for bringing us up right”
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“We had some of our best conversations going from door to door”