Telling “the Generation to Come”
“Relating them even to the generation to come the praises of Jehovah and his strength and his wonderful things that he has done.”—Ps. 78:4.
1. What responsibility comes upon those who exercise the God-given power of procreation, and what is the extent of this responsibility?
THE power and privilege of bringing children into existence are granted by Jehovah God, the Source of life and the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. (Ps. 36:9) Imperfect humans who exercise this power do so by his undeserved kindness. They having availed themselves of the privilege, a weighty responsibility comes upon them. Parents are entrusted with the job of imparting to their offspring the true meaning and purpose of life. To pass on to children physical life without spiritual life indicates a failure of duty. Even animals pass on physical life to their offspring. But from humans, made in God’s image and endowed with the power of reason, better things are expected. In his written Word, the Holy Bible, Jehovah has recorded his purpose in creating all the marvels of his universe, including man. That purpose is that they all should laud him, reflect his matchless creatorship, and demonstrate that his principles for governing the whole universe are of the highest practical value, directing man in the only right way of life.—Ps. 145:10.
2. Why do some parents fail to pass on vital knowledge to their offspring, and therefore how, justly, could they be appraised?
2 Creatures who fail to render honor and praise to the Creator with even the very limited life they now enjoy are in fact misusing and abusing a precious gift from God. They are no better than the foolish one who says in his heart: “There is no Jehovah.” (Ps. 14:1) Together they ignore and deny the existence of the Creator, and so idiotically deny their own existence, for how can there be creatures without a creator? Such godless ones have nothing to pass on to their children beyond what the animal passes on to its young. If they themselves do not know and appreciate why they were given life, how can they pass this information on to the next generation? And how can their children attain to the greatest measure of happiness and usefulness in life if denied the heritage Jehovah intended for them, a heritage of heavenly wisdom?
3. (a) Parents like Noah, Abraham, Jacob and others exemplified what? (b) Why did Jehovah become acquainted with Abraham?
3 Happily in every generation there have been those who did appreciate this responsibility, and who have faithfully passed on to the next succeeding generation their knowledge of the majesty and praiseworthiness of the Most High God. In doing so they have ranged themselves alongside such grand examples of parenthood as Noah, Abraham, Jacob and a host of others. Noah, for his part, trained and instructed his boys so well that during critical times they stood courageously by him and survived as members of a godly household. (Heb. 11:7) Jehovah informs us why he made himself acquainted with Abraham in these words: “I have become acquainted with him in order that he may command his sons and his household after him so that they shall keep Jehovah’s way to do righteousness and judgment.” (Gen. 18:19) Today each parent who claims to have friendship with Jehovah God must, like Noah and Abraham, prove true to the purpose of this valued relationship.
4. What erroneous reasoning have many parents followed? How do we know they are gravely mistaken?
4 Some parents have mistakenly concluded, however, that it would be easier to wait until the child reaches physical maturity before trying to impart to him the instructions of the Creator. Already over 130 years ago some professed Christians were advancing the idea that “children ought not to be taught religion, for fear of having their minds biased to some particular creed; but they should be left to themselves, till they are capable of making a choice,—and, choose to make one.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary, on Deut. 6:6-9) God’s Word, on the other hand, instructs parents to “train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.” (Prov. 22:6) The real-life examples of young Josiah and young Timothy bear out the practicability of accepting divine guidance in this as in all other matters. (2 Chron. 34:1; 2 Tim. 3:15) Most parents have chosen to follow human wisdom, and this, in turn, has produced today’s bumper crop of youthful delinquents.
5. (a) On this subject, where does worldly wisdom lead us? (b) What does heavenly wisdom dictate?
5 The plight of those who depart from the way of heavenly wisdom is indicated by these expressions by a professor of psychology reported in The Telegram, Toronto, December 11, 1952: “The constant and unquestioned authority of the family head is a thing of the past. It just doesn’t fit now. In the old days a chain of command was necessary. Survival depended on working together, sowing the seed and harvesting the crop. The father, or headman, demanded authority and got it. Now when authority is exercised, even rarely, it is resented. It’s just a new pattern which has developed. We’re not sure where we are, but we’ll find a way out.” Parents, you do not need to end up in a fog like that! Failure to wield the rod of parental authority means abdication of your God-ordained position in the household and opens the door to anarchy. God’s instruction on the subject is clear: “Chastise your son while there exists hope.” “The rod and reproof are what give wisdom; but a boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame. Chastise your son and he will bring you rest and give much pleasure to your soul.”—Prov. 19:18; 29:15, 17.
6. Why is there no time to lose, and what must be determined upon?
6 Do not delay telling the new generation those vital things they must know. Before he reaches adulthood your child should be so imbued with true knowledge that he will be able to stand up to crucial tests of his faith applied by a hostile world. You have no time to lose. Recent history provided the spectacle of grown men being brainwashed and transformed into putty in the hands of their captors simply because they had never been given any real foundation for faith. A few years of teaching, therefore, will not suffice. A progressive program of training is called for, one that will mold your child’s life from infancy right through to adulthood.
7. When should the training of children commence? Explain.
7 As soon as an infant opens its eyes and ears on the world it begins to record impressions. What kind of things does it hear? Loud, harsh talk, quarreling, confusion? Or quiet, kind, dignified speech and action? What kind of impressions are you parents making on the sensitive record of your child’s mind? As he later learns to speak and express himself, are you availing yourselves of the wonderful opportunities to begin shaping the young intellect? At home mother could go through some helpful Bible aid with the child, such as From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained, explaining its many illustrations and emphasizing that whether people are good or bad is determined by their obeying and pleasing God or disobeying and displeasing him. Then when father comes home from work the child can be invited to repeat what he has learned, and father will give encouragement by showing keen interest in his progress. To engage in such beneficial training only when you feel like it will produce but mediocre results. Make it part of your family schedule and experience the joy of seeing the first roots of divine truth taking firm hold in the soil of your child’s mind.
8. (a) What advantage is there in a progressive program of training? (b) Outline some of the things parents must keep in mind as they follow such a program.
8 Later on as the youngster is exposed to playing and schooling with other children he will come in contact with bad thinking and wrong attitudes. Now, as you apply discipline, his good and bad actions can be related to the events of inspired history with which you have already familiarized him. Parental reproofs and commendations will thus become more meaningful and authoritative. As the child becomes more and more aware of cause and effect, emotions and attitudes, how very careful you parents must be to maintain fine conduct in all family relationships! One exchange of hot words between you, one bout of not talking, can easily at this stage spoil many weeks of patient training. The child expects his parents to live and act in harmony with the good Scriptural teaching they are passing on to him. Besides, he is now at the point where he will want to reenact scenes and conversations for his own amusement and self-education. Will he have excellent material to work upon? That depends on how well Mum and Dad are behaving themselves. He will also have plenty of questions. What will you parents do about that? If you show impatience, stifle his curiosity, then he is likely to go elsewhere for his answers, and most likely answers based on worldly wisdom. (Jas. 3:15) Why not take time to answer his serious questions, being sure to tie in your answers to the source of all true wisdom—Jehovah God. (1 Cor. 2:6-10) Take time to satisfy your child with knowledge and understanding, for thereby he can become truly beautiful in Jehovah’s sight.—Prov. 4:7, 8.
9. Explain the discipline that should be applied especially from the early teen years forward.
9 Comes the early teen-age period. A vital time indeed, for now son and daughter become self-assertive. They have to associate with many other children who lack any kind of parental control. Soon your child wants to have his own way also. This is when the rod of authority, literal and figurative, must surely be brought into play, though always administered with empathy and in love. (Prov. 23:13, 14) Nor is it enough to say to the youngster who asks why he has to follow a prescribed course, “Never mind, I am asking you to do just as I say.” Is that how Jehovah deals with his earthly children? No, for by his written Word he ‘sets things straight’ so that we know the reason back of the requirement. (Isa. 1:18) And it is always a good reason. Also, you must explain to your child that what looks like genuine freedom enjoyed by other children is, in fact, lack of control based upon ignorance of Jehovah’s requirements for families.
10. How must parents meet the situation posed when worldly knowledge is being planted in the children’s minds? Explain why.
10 Teen-age boys and girls imagine they have already reached manhood and womanhood, and they keep trying to prove it. A little worldly knowledge gained at school goes to their heads like a draught of strong wine. What steadying influence are you going to bring to bear on this situation? Your preschool training of them should properly have impressed them with the fact that there is only one source of true knowledge. (Ps. 94:10) Now as they eagerly lap up the information presented to them in school, continually remind them that their study courses in history, religion and science will be dictated and slanted by nationalism, sectarianism and evolutionism. Explain why. You must get this message across to them, for upon this depends your continuing to be a respected authority in their lives. Most children, unfortified by true knowledge at this stage, quickly conclude that their parents are old-fashioned and out of step with modern learning.
11. Why is the desire for popularity a deadly foe, and how can it be combated successfully?
11 As the late teen years are reached one of the most deadly foes to your child’s future with which you will have to do battle is the desire for popularity. You will surely require “power beyond what is normal” to wage this fight successfully. That extra power you must obtain from Jehovah through prayer and through upbuilding association with others of his true worshipers. (2 Cor. 4:7) How legitimate this desire for popularity deceitfully appears to be! Yet it breeds the love of money, all kinds of excesses, and draws people into the social whirlpool of this world that can eventually land them in a cesspool of vice. Whether popularity is sought through sports, dress, sex, social or business success, or in any other field, it takes possession of the mind and crowds out all that is good and spiritually healthful. (1 Tim. 6:9, 10) Be on the alert for the early, stealthy advances upon your child from this quarter. Read over and discuss with him frequently the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, underlining the points that those men of approved faith were unpopular, they were persecuted, and yet in Jehovah’s view “the world was not worthy of them.” (Heb. 11:38) Teach your child to seek, above all else, favor with God.
12. (a) Is sex education of children important? Why? (b) How can it be carried out effectively?
12 Sex is a major problem at this stage of your child’s life. Many parents fail, through an exaggerated sense of delicacy, to inform their children properly on this subject, and then wonder why the young folk get mixed up in shameful immoralities. Note how tastefully, yet adequately, the Bible discusses this matter. Using a private, family-owned cistern as representing a woman with her ability to give sexual refreshment to her husbandly owner, the words of Proverbs 5:15-19 are most expressive: “Drink water out of your own cistern, and tricklings out of the midst of your own well. Should your springs be scattered out of doors, your streams of water in the public squares themselves? Let them prove to be for you alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your water source prove to be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth, a lovable hind and a charming mountain goat.” A mere youth can be taught that the expression “your own cistern” signifies a wife of legal ownership by marriage, and that anyone partaking of marriage privileges while still unmarried is in fact no better than a common thief. Aptly, then, the harlot’s words of enticement to the inexperienced young man are expressed at Proverbs 9:17: “Stolen waters themselves are sweet, and bread eaten in secrecy—it is pleasant.” Appropriately, too, the Bible lists fornicators, adulterers, thieves and extortioners as, all alike, unworthy of an inheritance in the new system of things under God’s kingdom.—1 Cor. 6:9, 10.
13. Explain how youth can be given the proper balance on the subject of sex.
13 The sex-consciousness of youth needs to be balanced also by sobering facts about the lurking diseases related to loose sex associations that are rife in the world today. Statistics can be produced to show how syphilis and other social scourges are on the increase. Pull no punches in explaining their dread, painful and often fatal effects. At the same time give proper supervision to your child’s companionships with those of the opposite sex. Do not count too heavily on their self-control and integrity. The sex drive is a most powerful force. To grant youth the opportunities for putting it to the test while yet they have not learned the rights and responsibilities connected with it is like permitting him to drive a high-powered car on a busy highway without bothering to give him proper instruction on driving and on other people’s rights. It matters not that this “smart” world views sex promiscuity with the utmost of tolerance. We must keep reminding ourselves and our children that it is God’s favor and life that we are seeking, not the world’s favor and death.
14. (a) What will guard your child against evil companionships? (b) How will you demonstrate genuine love for your child?
14 If your child is to be guarded against finding his own questionable companionships and ways of occupying idle time, something must be substituted. As Jehovah made himself acquainted with Abraham, why not make yourself acquainted with your children, and for the same loving purpose? This cannot be achieved by being isolated dwellers in the same home. There has to be a genuine sharing of lives. Start children early sharing with you the work and pleasure of maintaining a clean, comfortable home. In this way father and mother will have more leisure time to share with their family profitably. Imaginatively plan ways and means of keeping the family together even in hours of relaxation. Group research into history, natural history, geography, archaeology and many other fields can be organized. This can be done with the help of select books from the public library, tours of museums and other places of educational interest, and outings for firsthand glimpses of creation’s marvels. By means of a projector you may use film or slides right at home to provide your own and your neighbors’ children with a combination of pleasure and education. The extent to which you are prepared to go in competing with worldlings for the companionship of your growing child will be the true measure of your love for him.
15. While being a companion to your children, what must you guard against, and why?
15 Even while becoming a companion to your child you must also see to it that he does not become overfamiliar and disrespectful. Your respect for Jehovah in everything you say and do will, in turn, command your child’s respect for you. You must always show yourself firm for right principles. Never be inconsistent in your dealings. When you say Yes, then you should mean just that; and when you say No, that should be final. How frequently one sees some cute, smooth-talking youngster cajoling his parents into letting him have his own way! To take the course of least resistance here, either by letting him have his way or by letting him get away with even a minor disobedience, is really teaching him to disobey. What a great responsibility for his later life this must bring upon you!
PLANNING HIS FUTURE
16. How can your child be directed toward a happy and successful future?
16 Plans for the future of your child would be vain if they failed to take into account the main purpose of your training, namely, to impress upon the young mind the vitalness of knowing God and living according to his requirements. So at a tender age he should be directed toward a life of greatest usefulness. Point to the prophets as men who devoted their lives to the teaching of heavenly wisdom. Explain how the brave and fearless warriors of the Bible were patterns of the bold, spiritual warriors of today who, without carnal weapons, are able to put enemies to flight, pull down strongholds of error, and bring emancipation to multitudes of enslaved peoples. (2 Cor. 10:4-6) Open up to your child’s vision wide vistas of opportunity in the service of God’s kingdom. Aid him to grasp the truth that all secular activities, without exception, are at best only useful as they provide more time and means to expend in the grand work of spreading knowledge of Jehovah’s marvelous works and future purposes.
17. Explain the relationship between teaching your child good speech and his successful future.
17 Good speech is one of the basics for a successful future. To be able to speak well means to speak clearly, to speak graciously, to speak respectfully, and, above all, to speak the truth. Teaching your child to express himself well should have many good effects. You cannot help a youth who will not talk about his troubles. Suppression of young ideas and views could produce introverts who will be more concerned about their own selfish little world than about the family and the many truth-hungry people all around. (Prov. 18:1) For best results in warmth and loving cooperation there must be confidential talk in the family. (Prov. 15:22) If you are always approachable, reasonable and conversational with your child, there is less likelihood of some seed of error taking root in his mind without your being aware of the danger. (Heb. 12:15) Teaching good speech also requires the teacher himself to make sure that he is giving a good example. The power of good speech on a good subject is described in the Bible as healing and refreshing to the listener. (Prov. 15:23; Ps. 107:20) Your child can be equipped to give comfort and hope to multitudes of needy ones in this selfish, heartless system of things.
18. How can parents find support in their earnest efforts to tell “the generation to come”?
18 In discharging this parental obligation to tell “the generation to come” about Jehovah’s wonderful works, you are not alone. There are other parents who see this as their God-given work. They not only teach the children at home but also take them along to a Kingdom Hall or to some centrally located home where several families assemble for an hour at a set time each week to study the Bible and strengthen one another’s faith and hope in God’s promised New Order. If there is no such meeting place in the immediate neighborhood, why not organize a study group right in your own home where interested persons could come together for consideration of the Bible? This magazine could be used as study material, and would surely help one and all to find the treasures of knowledge stored up in God’s Word for this very day in which we live. Your family would be greatly benefited by such wholesome association.
19. To ensure success in their God-given career, what should parents guard against, and what prospect lies beyond their faithful discharge of duty?
19 Parents, Jehovah has given you a marvelous inheritance—children, together with the responsibility of molding and training them for an everlasting and successful future. Why not enter fully into your parental career? For one who has a family, no other is to be compared with it. Do not permit the incidental matters of life, your job, your standing in the community, your quest for personal relaxation, to push this career into the background. That your children should observe the operation of a practical faith in your life, and ask questions about it, and that you, in turn, should be able to explain to your children the basis of your faith, is made clear at Deuteronomy 6:20-25: “In case your son should ask you in a future day, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the regulations and the judicial decisions mean that Jehovah our God has commanded you?’ then you must say to your son, ‘. . . Jehovah commanded us to carry out all these regulations, to fear Jehovah our God for our good always, that we might keep alive as at this day.’” Progressively train your child through the successive stages of his minority. Do a thorough job, and when he reaches adulthood he will not turn away, but will still be ranged alongside you, his parents, in the service of the grand Creator. Equip your child with knowledge and appreciation of Jehovah’s power, his wonderful works and his never-failing purpose. By word and example keep telling these things forth to “the generation to come.”
[Picture on page 141]
Be a companion to your child, arranging for outings to see creation’s marvels firsthand