The Bible’s Viewpoint
Giving Children the Attention They Need
DID the Son of God have time to spend with children? Some of his disciples did not think so. On one occasion they tried to keep little ones from getting close to Jesus. He responded by saying: “Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them.” He then lovingly received a group of children and spoke with them. (Mark 10:13-16) Jesus thus showed that he was willing to give children his attention. How can parents today follow his example? By properly training their children and spending time with them.
Of course, responsible parents actively pursue their children’s well-being and avoid mistreating them. It might even be said that it is “natural” for parents to show respect and consideration for their children. The Bible warns, however, that many in our day would no longer have “natural affection.” (2 Timothy 3:1-3) And for those who do maintain a loving interest in their children, there is always something to learn when it comes to responsible parenting. The following Bible principles are therefore welcome reminders for parents who want the best for their children.
Training Without Irritating
Dr. Robert Coles, a noted teacher and research psychiatrist, once said: “Within the child there is a developing moral sense. I happen to think it is God-given, that there is a craving for a moral order.” Who is to satisfy this hunger and thirst for moral guidance?
At Ephesians 6:4, the Scriptures exhort: “You, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” Did you notice that the scripture particularly charges the father with the responsibility of instilling in his children a love for God and a deep appreciation for divine standards? In verse 1 of Ephesians chapter 6, the apostle Paul made reference to both the father and the mother when he told children to ‘be obedient to their parents.’*
Of course, if the father is absent, then the mother must assume this responsibility. Many single mothers have successfully reared their children in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah God. However, if the mother marries, the Christian husband should take the lead. The mother should willingly follow that lead in training and disciplining their children.
How do you discipline or train your children without “irritating” them? There are no secret formulas, especially since every child is different. But parents must give much thought to their manner of discipline, always showing love and respect for their children. Interestingly, this matter of not irritating your children is repeated in the Scriptures at Colossians 3:21. There, fathers are again admonished: “Do not be exasperating your children, so that they do not become downhearted.”
Some parents yell and scream at their children. Undoubtedly this exasperates their young ones. But the Bible urges: “Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you.” (Ephesians 4:31) The Bible also says that “a slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle toward all.”—2 Timothy 2:24.
Give Them Your Time
Giving your children the attention they need also means that you are willing to sacrifice pleasures and personal conveniences for the sake of your children’s well-being. The Bible says: “These words that I am commanding you today must prove to be on your heart; and you must inculcate them in your son and 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.”—Deuteronomy 6:6, 7.
Today, demanding financial obligations allow few parents to be with their children from dawn to dusk. Yet, Deuteronomy emphasizes that parents “must” find time to spend with their young ones. Doing so requires good organization as well as sacrifice. However, children need such attention.
Consider the results of one study of over 12,000 teenagers. The conclusion of the researchers: “A strong emotional connection to a parent is the best guarantee of a teenager’s health and the strongest barrier to high-risk behaviors.” Yes, children crave attention from their parents. A mother once asked her children, “If you could have anything you wanted, what would you like most?” All four responded, “More time with Mom and Dad.”
Being a responsible parent thus means that you make sure that your children’s needs are satisfied, including their need for spiritual education and close friendship with their parents. It means helping children to become capable, respectful, and honest adults who treat their fellowman with kindness and who bring glory to their Creator. (1 Samuel 2:26) Yes, when parents train and discipline children in a godly way, they are being responsible.
Here Paul used the Greek word go·neuʹsin, from go·neusʹ, meaning “parent.” But in verse 4 he used the Greek word pa·teʹres, meaning “fathers.”
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Yelling and screaming can distress a child
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Spend time with your children