Do Your Children Confide in You?
“Children, be obedient to your parents . . . you, fathers, do not be irritating your children.”—Eph. 6:1, 4.
1. Describe the change that often occurs in a child’s attitude toward his parents as he grows older.
WHAT a delight to see a young child excitedly trying to tell his parents of some little event that just happened! To this child the most important thing at the moment is telling father and mother the whole story, for he feels that, above all others, the parents must hear about it. But alas! a few years later that warm and intimate confidence often deteriorates into icy silence, and a deep-freeze of evasiveness sets in.
2. Is the reason why parents lose the confidence of their children generally recognized? So what is needed?
2 Why such change in attitude? Parents and children who find themselves in this unhappy situation can give a whole string of complaints against each other, but few of them know the basic reasons for the change, otherwise they could cope with it. Usually they are too close to the problem and too emotionally involved to recognize the cause or to find the remedy by themselves. They need outside aid. They need the aid of God’s Word the Bible, for it pinpoints the cause and highlights the remedy.
3. When were the seeds of rebellion against parents first planted, and by whom?
3 In searching for the cause it must be recognized, first of all, that the seeds of rebellion against parental authority were planted long ago. The Devil, that original rebel who is also called Satan, meaning adversary or opposer, caused Adam and Eve to lose confidence in their Father Jehovah, by calling into question the divine law. (Gen. 3:1-6; 2 Cor. 11:3) Since then Adam’s offspring, “sons of disobedience” for the most part, have put little faith and trust in Jehovah or his Word. (Eph. 2:2) In this regard, the religious leaders are primarily responsible, and particularly is this so in modern times. The majority of the clergy today discard the Bible as not inspired by God, and in its place preach that ‘God is dead’ and man is a product of evolution.—Matt. 15:6, 9.
“CRITICAL TIMES HARD TO DEAL WITH”
4. Are conditions today any worse than in past generations?
4 Though the seeds of insubordination were planted long ago, it is only in modern times that such a bumper crop of rebels has appeared. This generation of lawless ones has created a crisis in the earth the like of which has never before existed. At the same time that international wars are being fought over border disputes, other types of warfare are waged on many home fronts, and it is these latter ones that have the greatest effect on youths. A neighborhood riot has a greater impact on children than the bombing of villages in a war zone halfway around the globe.
5. What are some of the things today that are “hard to deal with”?
5 Local labor disputes are ever more frequent and more and more difficult to mediate. Peace in such disputes is often restored only temporarily. Confidence and trust are at a low ebb. Labor and management have lost confidence in each other. Meantime everybody suffers. Products and services deteriorate, the cost of living soars, the burden of taxation increases. Everyone seems discontented.
6. Are conditions any better among civil employees?
6 Not only is rebellion rampant among industrial workers, but many civil servants rebel against constituted authority. Strikes among municipal, state and federal employees were practically unheard of a few years ago. But nowadays police, fire fighters, sanitation men, postal workers and others have gone on strike, not alone for higher wages, but in protest over other matters. There is also an ever-widening rebellion of teachers against school boards.
7. What rebellious attitudes are of an even more serious nature?
7 Besides the disputes over economic issues, there are those developments of a more serious nature that involve protests and rebellions against the present system of things, against what is called ‘the establishment.’ There are many “anti” movements afoot—antiwar, antipeace, antirich and antipoor. Sometimes these small fires of discontent cannot be contained until a number of lives have been lost.
8. How were present world conditions foretold in Bible prophecy?
8 Of a truth, world affairs are exactly as foretold by the apostle Paul, “critical times hard to deal with”! The details Paul described in this way: “Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.” Certainly, these conditions constitute a mountain of evidence that we are living in “the last days” of this system of things.—2 Tim. 3:1-5.
9. How are youngsters bound to be affected by present world conditions?
9 It is not surprising, then, that children living amid these desperate, critical times are adversely affected. In many instances the parents have lost confidence in their social and political leaders, in their industrial superiors, and in their religious teachers. What, then, can be expected of the children when they start thinking for themselves? They too lose confidence in the system around them, and in their parents and grandparents, whom they hold responsible for the present rotting system.
LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD’S COMPLAINTS
10. What is one complaint often heard against parents?
10 One of the complaints youngsters have is their parents’ failure to understand them. For example, when youngsters do confide and disclose a problem they are having, so often parents become angry instead of giving the needed help. Thus to avoid family friction, children feel it is better not to mention their problems to their unsympathetic parents.
11. (a) When giving instructions to children, what do some parents fail to do? (b) Can the promises and opinions of parents always be depended upon?
11 There are other complaints too. Parents often tell children what not to do, but seldom do they say what to do or how to do it. In other words, the emphasis is negative rather than on upbuilding instruction. Too often promises are not kept by parents. They will promise their children something very desirable, but then fail to fulfill the promise on the flimsy pretext of being too busy or too tired. So how can a child trust such parents when they make promises? The same is true in regard to parental threats. Sometimes they are carried out; most of the time they are not. It thus becomes a game of chance, a gamble, and the child soon learns that the odds of the game are that the word of the parent is not dependable. Similarly, children are often severely scolded about certain things, but on other occasions these same things are passed over without comment as if unimportant. All too often these changing whims, fancies and erratic notions of the parents are enough to destroy the child’s confidence and alienate his trust and affections.
12. What is lacking when parents fail to tell their children the “facts of life”?
12 One of the more serious charges of many teen-agers is that their parents neglect to instruct them in the very fundamentals of life and its reproduction, that is, in matters having to do with proper sex relations. Is there not a lack of genuine love when parents fail to instruct their children concerning the sanctity of marriage, or to warn them about promiscuity, and the consequences of loose moral conduct that results in shameful pregnancy out of wedlock and infectious venereal diseases that produce blindness, sterility and insanity? Where is parental love when a daughter is not told that a girl of easy virtue in the end becomes despicable in the eyes of her so-called “lovers”? Where is there love on the part of parents who let their children learn the “facts of life” from the depraved and degenerate elements of society?
13. Who are responsible to a large extent for the corruption of youth by pornography?
13 The charge of the teen-agers is true: It is adults, many of whom are fathers and mothers, who make and supply pornographic books and pictures for the moral corruption of youth. Some parents, it seems, are no more concerned over their children’s reading filthy literature than they are over what companions their offspring have.
14. What other harsh criticism is lodged against many parents today, and is it justified?
14 Children also have some harsh but honest criticism to offer when it comes to the personal lives parents sometimes live and the example they are thus setting for youth. Everywhere one finds parents who are liars and thieves, who boast of sharp business practices, who pilfer materials from their employers and cheat on hours, who break the speed laws and fraudulently withhold payment of income taxes. Some parents are alcoholics, some are hooked on drugs, some are adulterers and sex perverts. It is a rather common thing for husbands and wives to scream and curse at each other in the presence of their children. And yet for all of this, these same parents often make a pretense of religious devotion of a sort. What a sham! Pious hypocrisy! And their children well know it.
15, 16. (a) What companions do rebellious youths often seek out, and why? (b) Does association with gangs solve youths’ problems?
15 Is it reasonable to expect that the offspring of such people would put confidence and trust in their parents? Hardly! They are more likely to seek out companions they enjoy being around, and according to the natural law that ‘birds of a feather flock together,’ those companions will probably be a gang of youths with similar problems. These, then, will confide in one another and will frankly discuss their mutual complaints. Whether the conclusions they come up with will solve the problems makes little difference. At least they have someone they can talk to, someone who will listen, someone who will sympathize with them.
16 Little by little, these youths are weaned away from the guardianship of their parents. When they get into trouble now they confide in the gang. As their feeling of security in the gang grows, their feeling of bitterness toward their parents deepens. It is now only a short step to joining “protest” groups in an effort to vent their contempt for the society with which their parents are identified.
HOW TO GAIN THE CONFIDENCE OF YOUR CHILDREN
17. As parents, whether you have the confidence of your children or not, what should you do?
17 It is much easier to hold on to and keep the confidence of a child than to gain it back once it is lost. So if your children confide in you do not take it for granted, but work hard to retain this good relationship that is mutually so beneficial. If, though, you are one of the many thousands of despondent parents who have lost the confidence of their offspring, it will prove to be worth all the time and effort necessary to gain it back. Here are a few suggestions how this may be accomplished.
18. How important is it for parents to put their full confidence in Jehovah?
18 Begin by laying a solid foundation. That durable foundation is your own confidence and faith in your heavenly Father, Jehovah, and in his Word the Bible. “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart,” the proverb says, “and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.” If you put such implicit confidence in Jehovah, do you not think your children in turn will be inclined to trust you? Usually they will.—Prov. 3:5, 6.
19. (a) Why is love for Jehovah so important? (b) Are children more apt to confide in parents who hate what is bad?
19 Now upon this solid foundation of trust, lay that important cornerstone called love, love for your Father Jehovah. Loving him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is “the greatest and first commandment.” (Matt. 22:37, 38; Mark 12:30) If you love Jehovah, you will love what he loves and you will hate what he hates. Jehovah hates everyone that practices badness—fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy persons, drunkards, revilers, extortioners, liars. Such ones, God says, will not live under his righteous Kingdom rule unless they radically change their course. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-5; Rev. 21:8; 22:15) So “you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad” by refraining from all such practices. (Ps. 97:10; 1 John 5:3) Because of doing so, do you not think your children will build confidence in you? Of course they will.—Col. 3:5-9.
20. Describe the “new personality” that parents are urged to put on.
20 When persons get rid of these bad practices it is as if they stripped off an “old personality.” In its place they are admonished to put on a “new personality,” consisting of tender affections of compassion, kindness, humility, mildness, long-suffering, love, a putting up with others, and a forgiving of all who may cause one injury. (Col. 3:10-14; Eph. 4:22-24) Now what do you think? Will your children confide in you if you display such a delightful personality, a personality reflecting the ‘fruitage of God’s spirit’? Indeed they will!—Gal. 5:22, 23.
21. What must parents do if they wish their children to confide in them?
21 The Scripture says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Only when you parents thus confide in Jehovah, asking him in prayer to ‘forgive you your debts, as you also have forgiven your debtors,’ asking him to point out the right way to go in this wicked world, saying, “Instruct me, O Jehovah, in your way, and lead me in the path of uprightness on account of my foes,” only then can you expect your children to feel free to bring you their problems and to ask advice and counsel on what they should do.—Matt. 6:12; Ps. 27:11.
22. What example of extending mercy do parents do well to copy?
22 And when your children come to confide in you, how will they be treated? Will you extend them mercy in the same way that you expect your Father in the heavens to extend mercy to you? Remember, “the one that does not practice mercy will have his judgment without mercy.” (Jas. 2:13; Mark 11:25; Luke 6:36) You are happy that your heavenly Father is long-suffering and patient with you, that he “tolerated with much long-suffering vessels of wrath made fit for destruction,” and that “he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed.” (Rom. 9:22; 2 Pet. 3:9) You, therefore, in turn make sure you are long-suffering and patient with your children and their problems. As the proverb says: “Anyone stopping up his ear from the complaining cry of the lowly one, he himself also will call and not be answered.”—Prov. 21:13.
23. Why should the problems of your offspring never be viewed as too small to bother with?
23 Another point: Never think that the problems of your children are too petty and small for you to bother about, and never excuse yourself that you are too busy to consider them. Just think how small and petty your problems must seem in the eyes of God Almighty! And who could be busier than he is? Yet you are most grateful that his ears are open day and night to your cry and that he never tires of listening to and answering your prayers, as trivial as they may be.—Ps. 34:15; Luke 18:7, 8.
HOW CONFIDENCE OF CHILDREN IS RETAINED
24. In communicating with your children, what points should be kept in mind?
24 You parents who have put complete confidence in Jehovah, make sure you apply his wise counsel and instruction in dealing with your children, if you want them to confide in you. Communicate with them, and on their age level too. When they are youngsters, do not treat them as babes; when they are teen-agers, speak to them as such. (1 Cor. 13:11) In communicating, impart knowledge to your offspring, especially about God’s purposes as set forth in the Bible. Reason with them, letting them ask questions and express their own opinions. If they are wrong, kindly point out their error in a loving way, not in a belittling manner.
25. Along with instruction what else should parents give their children, but what does Hebrews 12:11 say about this?
25 If instruction is to accomplish its intended purpose, it must be accompanied with corrective discipline. Begin disciplining children when they are infants; then when they are growing up they will not have the problems other youngsters have. As it is written: “Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.” “True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous; yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.”—Prov. 22:6; Heb. 12:11.
26. Why should parents not hesitate to use the rod, if necessary, to discipline children?
26 Do not hesitate to use the rod in administering discipline. “Foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy; the rod of discipline is what will remove it far from him.” “In case you beat him with the rod, he will not die. With the rod you yourself should beat him, that you may deliver his very soul from Sheol itself.”—Prov. 22:15; 23:13, 14.
27. (a) But what precautions are needed in administering punishment? (b) Why is it important that the rules of the home be based on the Bible and its principles?
27 However, such punishment should never be administered in a fit of anger nor should it be a burst of emotion due to a lack of self-control. It would hardly be just to punish a child for doing something that he had never been told was wrong. First there must be careful, patient instruction given, a “mental-regulating of Jehovah,” in which the child knows not only what is reasonably expected, but also why. (Eph. 6:4) So when making rules and regulations be sure they are in harmony with Bible principles and in this way you can always say, ‘Thus says the Word of God.’ This will help the child that fears God and loves his laws to be happy to obey the rules of the home. Then, following this, if punishment is necessary, the child will know that it is because there has been a willful and deliberate violation of the Bible-based instructions.
28. In imitation of Jehovah, how should parents discipline their children?
28 But even then, let the punishment be administered in justice tempered with mercy. Let the parent, in imitation of the heavenly Father, demonstrate understanding and sympathy, together with patience and self-control. Punishment by ridicule before friends makes the child downhearted, even hostile. Hence the counsel: “You fathers, do not be exasperating your children, so that they do not become downhearted.” “Do not be irritating your children.”—Col. 3:21; Eph. 6:4.
29. What other virtues should parents cultivate?
29 In all of this, parents should never be indecisive or double-minded, saying one thing one time and something else at other times. “Let your Yes mean Yes, and your No No.” (Jas. 5:12; 4:8) Humility, too, is a great virtue and one pleasing to God. So avoid being high-minded, arrogant or boastful. Jehovah hates the proud-hearted ones. Your children too will love you if you are humble-minded, and if they love you, they will also confide in you.—Prov. 16:5; 1 Pet. 5:5, 6.
30. How only can parents gain and retain the confidence of their children?
30 It is all so plain. If children are freely to confide in their parents, then the parents themselves must show faith in Jehovah, devotion to him and obedience to his Word. They must also demonstrate in their daily lives such godly qualities as mercy, sympathy, kindness, patience and self-control, along with integrity to the truth and a love for righteousness. Only in this way can parents hope to gain and retain the confidence of their children.
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By sympathetically listening to his child’s problems and complaints, a parent encourages his child to confide in him
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If your children confide in you, do not take it for granted, but work hard to retain this good relationship