Protect the New Generation
“Do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah.”—Eph. 6:4.
1, 2. What distorted trend has developed, and what incidents illustrate it?
A HOUSEWIFE in Englewood, Colorado, was returning home; but before she entered her home, a boy approached her. The blond youngster pointed a nickel-plated gun at her and ordered: “Drop your purse or I’ll shoot you!” She laughed at him. Then he said: “I’m not kidding. I just shot a guy and dropped him.” The housewife, still considering the boy to be a Halloween prankster, asked him where the shooting took place. He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. Then after repeating the order to drop the purse, the boy pulled the trigger. The gun misfired, but the boy pulled the trigger a second time and the pistol fired. The housewife staggered into her house, seriously wounded. A baby-sitter caring for her children called the police, who began the search for a gun-toting thug described as about seven years old.a
2 How twisted and distorted things are today! A gun-toting thug little more than a tot! Today the adult generation needs protection from the new generation. Teenage gangs in big cities make city streets more hazardous than jungle pathways. Sometimes there is not even safety at home. A boy eight years old killed his mother because she made him go to bed early, and another boy of thirteen shot his great-grandmother because she refused him a glass of water. A fifteen-year-old boy shot and killed his parents at Redding, California, while they slept. “I didn’t like my father whistling during TV shows,” he told the police. “And I didn’t like my mother very much, either.” In 1960 a three-year-old boy in Hayward, California, shot and killed his mother. How is it that adults, even parents, need protection from the new generation?
3, 4. (a) When do criminal careers begin, as confirmed by news reports, and so what must parents do? (b) What is said about world conditions and their effect on children?
3 The fact should be glaringly evident: Children will go bad at an early age unless given protection; that is, protective training and discipline. Criminal careers begin at an early age. “Crime in the United States,” says J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, “has reached an all-time high.” Much of it, he reported, is being committed by young people between the ages of ten and seventeen. A news report from Marion, Indiana, stated: “The police recovered three truckloads of stolen merchandise from the home of a 12-year-old boy and said they had only scratched the surface of a ‘fantastic’ theft binge. They said the boy told them that he had started his career of crime at the age of 9.” (New York Times, December 10, 1961) In addition to stealing, it is common today for youthful vandals to break windows of autos and trains and break up, disfigure and damage other people’s possessions. If adults are to be protected from the new generation, they must start by protecting the new generation.
4 The world atmosphere testifies to the urgent need for protecting youth. In this regard a booklet entitled “A Look at Juvenile Delinquency”b says in its foreword:
“What is vastly different today is the world in which these children are growing up. As we realize this, we are able to understand better some of the aspects of modern juvenile delinquency. Never in past history has the pace of change been so rapid in our values and how we live. Of all of us, the young feel this the most. Atom bombs and atomic power, the thrust towards automation, shifting cultural patterns, rapidly increasing population, family mobility, the incalculable influence of television and other mass media in shaping reality for youngsters, and shrinking needs for unskilled workers, more working mothers . . .—these are just some of the ingredients in our way of life which strike children with tremendous impact.”
5. From what do children need protection today, and for how long a period?
5 Children need protection from commercial exploitation, the trend to immorality, the tendency to conform to youthful fads fraught with danger and all the other temptations in these wicked days. This protection must include not only the period during infancy, then, but also the long period of crucial importance, the teen-age years, when young people more easily than ever tend to plunge into the trap of conformity to worldly ways.
6. What failure emphasizes the need for protective training, and how did a newspaper report comment on this?
6 What emphasizes the critical need for parents to give this protective training and discipline is the egregious failure of schools and churches. A United States report shows that “according to available statistics only one high school senior in five had kept his faith until graduation day.” Parents cannot rely on the churches of Christendom to give protection. An enlightening item concerning this appeared in the Carroll County (Maryland) Times of May 18, 1961:
“How can men in present-day Christian leadership inspire in members of churches a reliance upon the Word of God, which they themselves do not manifest? How can they expect church members to live according to Scriptural standards, the worth of which is undermined by their own disbelief? It is in the same category with the manufacturer who has no confidence in his product. Much of Modern Christendom, through its leaders, repudiates many Scriptural truths and denies much that is actual Biblical history. They throw doubt across the path of impressionable youth, many of whom would never question their pastors and teachers. The Rev. G. MacGregor Grant, minister of the Rosedale United Church of Toronto, Canada, supporting his idea that the Book of Genesis is nothing more than a ‘guide to moral conduct,’ is quoted as stating: ‘Witness, for example the story of the fall of man in the Book of Genesis. This is not history, but a fanciful tale told by some Hebrew who had no knowledge of science’. . . . The pronouncement of disbelief in the Scriptures on the part of ecclesiastical leaders can be summed up to an appalling total under Modernist tutelage. No wonder organized Christianity is in retreat. No wonder society today has lost all sense of direction, moral, ethical and otherwise, when the very ones who ought to be leading the people in the paths of righteousness are so out of step with the truth that they are unable to point out the way in which men and women ought to walk. . . . Then when children turn on their parents or playmates with gun or knife, the public is shocked. It should not be. What else can you expect when the child has no compass, no set of moral rules?”
7. Despite confusion today, where may parents obtain authoritative advice on protecting children, and with what result for the parents?
7 Seeing their responsibility and the urgency of the situation, parents must get authoritative advice on protecting their children. But where? Even the best of human authorities differ. “The problem of discipline in child-rearing,” says one such authority, “is one of the most controversial, most discussed and most misunderstood of problems.” How good it is to know, then, that there is just one Authority on protecting children! Jehovah God, man’s Creator, is the Source of all authoritative advice on rearing and protecting children. How this should relieve Christian parents of the frustration that comes to those who think that there are hundreds of authorities on the subject! Knowing who the right Authority is, Christian parents can rear and protect children in certainty and be free of the frustration that afflicts those who try to bring them up without “the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah.”—Eph. 6:4.
TRAINING FROM INFANCY
8. When should protective training begin? Why so?
8 Protection for the new generation should begin from infancy. That infancy is the time to begin is made clear by the great Protector, Jehovah God, whose Word says: “Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.” The younger the child, the easier is the establishment of good habits. A child is incomparably more easily trained than the most intelligent dog. A child can be taught to run, to climb, to swim, to stand and to walk and even to speak several languages. Protective moral habits can likewise be taught from infancy. Dogs themselves are trained not to steal. Shall parents, then, teach dogs not to steal and fail when it comes to their own children? Give the right training from infancy.—Prov 22:6.
9, 10. Why is training from infancy so vital, and how does the case of Moses illustrate the indelible benefits of such child training?
9 Giving protective training from infancy is vital, too, because it gives the new generation a basis for their faith, a basis for making momentous decisions that they must make as they reach the age of maturity. Such training will enable the new generation to make decisions in harmony with the will of God. The case of Moses is an outstanding example of the value of protective training. Moses was born in Egypt, at a time when Israelite babes were to be put to death because of Pharaonic decree. The Bible account at Exodus, chapter two, tells how the babe was put in an ark by his mother Jochebed and placed among reeds by the bank of the river Nile. Pharaoh’s daughter found him. Moses’ sister Miriam, who had been posted nearby, stepped forward and asked with admirable tact: “Shall I go and specially call for you a nursing woman from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter responded to this opportune question and agreed to having a Hebrew woman being brought to her; the woman was Moses’ own mother. “Take this child with you,” said Pharaoh’s daughter, “and nurse him for me.” Time passed. “And the child [Moses] grew up. Then she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, so that he became a son to her.” (Ex. 2:1-10) Moses’ parents, Amram and Jochebed, thus had given the youth protective training from infancy, instilling in the child’s mind the laws of God and the love for God.
10 The training Moses received from infancy imparted to him a basis for his faith, a basis for a tremendous decision he was later to make. Yes, on the basis of the training given to Moses at his home in Goshen, he chose rather to be with the people of God, rejecting the royal court and its lucrative and luxurious opportunities, despite the fact that he had been given training in all the worldly wisdom of the Egyptians. “Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” (Acts 7:22) The education Moses received in Egypt was designed to fit him for a high office in the government, if not even for the Egyptian throne. But did Moses say: ‘Hum, it appears as if I am in line for a big governmental post, maybe the throne itself. Now, I would like to help my people, but I will just wait till the king dies, and then from the throne of Egypt it will be easy to help my people’? No! Moses rejected such thoughts. “By faith Moses, when grown up, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin.” (Heb. 11:24, 25) Moses made the right decision, for once he was in power he may well have been faced with overwhelming temptations. The example of Moses is the highest recommendation for protective training from infancy. What indelible benefits such training brings!
11. To make protective training of children a success what else is required, and how is it demonstrated?
11 Success in protective training of children today requires not only that it begin from infancy but that there be unity of action and right example set by the parents themselves. Parents who are true Christians are not to be divided on the matter of training their children. They have only one Authority, one authoritative Source, so why should they not be at unity? Unity of action means that the wife will not undermine the husband’s discipline nor the husband the wife’s discipline. Unity of action means that both parents enforce Jehovah’s discipline, not just the father. The mother does not allow the children to do as they wish, and then, when father comes home, they suddenly have to conform to Jehovah’s ways. The program for protecting the new generation is not off and on; it must be in effect twenty-four hours a day.
GIVING CHILDREN THE MIND OF GOD
12. What is Paul’s counsel, and how are children brought up in the authoritative advice of Jehovah?
12 Children need the mind of God on matters. The imparting of this knowledge, beginning at infancy, continues progressively right through those crucial teen-age years. The apostle Paul wrote this counsel: “Fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah.” (Eph. 6:4) How are children brought up in the authoritative advice of Jehovah? Paul’s words “authoritative advice,” in the original Greek, literally suggest the idea of putting a mind into someone. Well, whose mind does the child or youth need for protection? Jehovah’s mind, of course! To bring children up in the authoritative advice of Jehovah, put the mind of Jehovah into the children, not only while they are infants or youngsters but continually, progressively.
13. How can parents give children the mind of God at an early age, and whose example shows it can be done?
13 To give children the mind of God it is necessary for parents to teach them God’s commandments, using language and illustrations appropriate to their age. Break the words of God down into digestible form so that even very young children can grasp them. Did not Eunice put the mind of God into Timothy “from infancy”? It can be done. It requires patience, a good deal of time and the need to make divine principles clear to the childish mind. But, as in the case of Timothy, how great the benefits!—2 Tim. 3:15.
14, 15. (a) What must parents make clear to their children? (b) Explain how parents could put the mind of God into their children regarding such matters as stealing and lying.
14 Parents are really putting the mind of God into children when they make it crystal clear that they must and will uphold the supremacy of Jehovah’s law. For example, when teaching children not to steal, explain why—that there is much more than mere parental wish or desire involved in the matter. Let the children know it is not just your mind on a matter but that it is God’s mind and that you are accountable in the eyes of God to enforce divine law. So after explaining what stealing is, take the Bible, open it to appropriate verses and read to the child what the mind of God is: “You must not steal” is what God commands. But go beyond Exodus 20:15 and read other verses, such as Ephesians 4:28: “Let the stealer steal no more.” By doing this the child knows that it is a serious matter, that God’s will is of primary importance and that his parents will always support God’s commandments.
15 Progressively protect the new generation with the mind of God. After one point has been made clear, go on to another. For instance, explain to the child what lying is, who the first liar was, why falsehood displeases God and what the fate of liars will be. Sit down again with the child and open the Bible, showing the child what the mind of God is. Besides reading scriptures that express God’s disapproval on lying, show that God himself sets the example, reading, for instance, the scriptures: “All the paths of Jehovah are loving-kindness and trueness.” “It is impossible for God to lie.” (Ps. 25:10; Heb. 6:18) The use of scriptures expressing the divine will on matters of conduct and that God himself sets the example, coupled with good parental example in all these things, will give a child powerful protection against the evils of the day.
16. At an appropriate age what should young people know, and so what should the parents do about it?
16 As children grow older, there comes a time when parents need to give them God’s mind on proper moral conduct between the sexes. Again, mere parental statements forbidding what is wrong are not enough. Give Jehovah’s “authoritative advice” by going to the Bible and reading the scriptures about the chaste conduct that God requires of Christians. Knowledge of worldly pitfalls can also be given. Teen-age girls of Christian parents, for example, can be warned what is likely to happen as they grow in attractiveness: how worldly boys and men may approach them, putting temptations before them. Before these temptations occur, parents need to protect the new generation by giving them the protective authoritative advice of Jehovah God.
SHARPENING GOD’S COMMANDMENTS IN THEIR MINDS
17. (a) Besides progressiveness in child training, what else is important, and why? (b) How is its importance stressed by Moses?
17 Just as important as progressiveness, in protecting the new generation, is repetition. Once a child has been instructed with God’s mind on certain principles of conduct, the matter is not ended. It is easy for a commandment to become hazy, fuzzy, unclear. When one is faced with a temptation, he needs God’s word so sharply etched in his mind that he can resist the temptation just as quickly and surely as Joseph resisted the temptation put in his path by Potiphar’s wife. There was not the slightest doubt in Joseph’s mind that if he yielded to the temptation, he would be sinning against God. (Gen. 39:7-12) Repetition to sharpen God’s commandments in our minds is the idea behind Moses’ words at Deuteronomy 6:6, 7: “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.”
18. (a) Why did Moses so command the Israelites, and why are his words so apt today? (b) What are the twofold benefits of heeding this divine counsel?
18 This repetitive inculcating of Jehovah’s mind on all matters is for the protection of both children and parents. In this world with wickedness so commonplace, with temptations to go wrong almost everywhere, it is more vital than ever to keep the Word of God, the commandments of God, always fresh in our mind. Moses warned the Israelites of the conditions to come when they would have contact with heathen nations. He knew that there would be a tendency to fall away from God’s laws; so Moses exhorted them to faithfulness and commanded them to protect the new generation by regularly inculcating God’s laws into youthful minds. Similarly with Christians today, in this world where it is impossible to avoid total contact with those who are not true worshipers of God, protection is gained by keeping God’s commandments clear in mind. And when parents inculcate these divine laws in their children ‘and speak of them when they sit in their house and when they walk on the road and when they lie down and when they get up,’ the parents also get reflex benefits from all this. Parents have impressed upon their own minds the mind of God. The idea, then, is to put the mind of God into the children and continually sharpen the awareness of divine commandments in their mind by repetition, so that there is no mistake as to what they mean.
19. What fact regarding divine law should be made most clear to children, and what therefore should be the conduct of both adults and children under those circumstances?
19 Make it clear, too, that divine law applies just as much when children are away from home as it does when they are at home. Young people at times may go to different localities or cities where they are temporarily away from the eyes of their parents. Teach children that, though they may not be under the immediate purview of human supervisors, they are never away from the eyes of Jehovah God! “The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, keeping watch upon the bad ones and the good ones.” (Prov. 15:3) This scripture shows that nothing escapes the notice of Jehovah God. He has the means of observing everything, small or great. But, unlike the spies and secret police of worldly nations, Jehovah’s watching is for our good. Children should know this and be taught that, when away from home, they are not free to indulge in worldly practices that they would never do when under the eyes of parents and servants in the Christian congregation. Adults themselves should always set a fine example for the new generation when they visit strange cities and are away from their home congregation.
20. Explain some of the authoritative advice of Jehovah that should be given children. What will be the result?
20 Many, then, are the principles of conduct that children should be taught from infancy onward. What a broad range Jehovah’s protective authoritative advice covers! Teach children the Bible view of money so that they neither overvalue it nor undervalue it. Teach them moderation in all habits. Teach them God’s law regarding association and how bad association will assuredly spoil their good habits. Teach them to read what is wholesome and upbuilding. Teach them to resist the worldly crowd, to flee from folly and badness no matter how much ridicule is heaped upon them by worldly youths. Teach them to “quit being fashioned after this system of things.” (Rom. 12:2) Teach them responsibility by giving them responsibility. Teach them respect for the property of others. Teach them the sanctity of human life. How often newspapers tell of some child shooting another person, accidentally or otherwise! Why should children be pointing guns, toy or real, at people in the first place? Teach children to put on the “weapons of the light” and to wield God’s Word, “the sword of the spirit.” Give them a personal copy of the Bible at an early age. Teach them divine law regarding marriage, that a Christian is ‘free to marry only in the Lord.’ Let children know the sad results of flouting Jehovah’s laws. All this is a tremendous responsibility, this putting the mind of God into children; but the result is protection for the new generation.—Rom. 13:12; Eph. 6:17; 1 Cor. 7:39.
21. To avoid the worldly trend, what will Christian parents do, resulting in what blessing for their children?
21 Though the worldly trend is for adults to need protection from the new generation, Christian parents will not allow this trend to develop in their own households. Start from infancy, as Moses’ parents did. Keep on giving children the authoritative advice of Jehovah, making certain that the great Protector’s commandments are implanted ineradicably in their minds by repetition. Give young persons the mind of God through those critical teen-age years when increasing snares confront them. Protect the new generation with wholehearted interest and love. Then the new generation will be used both now and in the new world, to glorify forever the one whose authoritative advice makes protection possible—Jehovah God!
a Associated Press report, such as that appearing in the Seattle Post Intelligence, October 29, 1958.
b Published by the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Children’s Bureau publication No. 380, 1960.
[Picture on page 491]
Moses’ being entrusted to his mother for nursing afforded opportunity for godly training