Can the Bible Help You with Your Children?
“IT’S hopeless!” This is how many parents today feel about the problem of rearing children amid growing delinquency. But is it really hopeless?
No; the Bible can give the needed help. How? First of all, by giving parents reassurance that their role is of divine origin. It reveals that God himself instructed the first human pair to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.” (Gen. 1:28) It does not present men as mere offshoots of animals by some evolutionary process, hence breeding like animals out of mere instinct. The Bible makes clear that God holds human parents responsible for their offspring, and therefore they can count on God’s backing if they sincerely strive to care for that responsibility as unto Him.—Deut. 6:6, 7.
This can make a big difference in parent-child relations. For example, what do you rely on to get respect from your children? Solely the fact that you had a share in giving the child life? Agreed, that should be a powerful reason for meriting respect. (Prov. 23:22) But is just procreation enough to maintain or win your child’s respect? Unfortunately there are many things that may weaken respect resting only on that basis.
For one thing a child thinks far more in terms of the present than of the past. Though obviously knowing that he or she was born, the child just as obviously does not remember that event. Often of greater weight to the child is: What are my parents doing now that calls for my loving respect?
Then, too, sooner or later children begin to realize that childbirth can result simply from satisfying sexual desire—more or less a “side effect.” Thus there are a large number of illegitimate children whose fathers show not the slightest interest in them. “Unwanted” pregnancies among women are equally common. Abortions by the thousands testify eloquently to the attitude of many women (and men as well) toward having children.
Parents may be very conscious of the labor, pain and expense they underwent to bring the child into the world and to this point in life. But they may find they still need to demonstrate to their children that they are really different from the many who procreate but have no genuine love for their offspring. Can the Bible help parents to do this? Yes, it can. How?
The Bible’s wholesome viewpoint toward children is well summed up at Psalm 127:3: “Look! Sons are an inheritance from Jehovah; the fruitage of the belly is a reward.”
Do you wholeheartedly agree with that and feel deeply your responsibility to God to care for your children? Then show your children that you do. Avoid damaging their confidence in your love through unwise remarks or practices. Does a new pregnancy bring open expressions of dismay or annoyance? Then will not the children the parents already have begin to wonder if their parents did not feel the same way before they were born? Some parents even talk before their child about what they would have done if the child had not ‘come along,’ implying their regret over losing freedom to pursue certain personal goals and pleasures. They may lose their child’s trust and confidence in the bargain.
To help children to stay confident of the genuineness of their love, parents need to show pleasure in them, not making the children feel that the parental role is viewed as unpleasant and burdensome. But what is the effect if parents rely heavily on “baby-sitters,” perhaps right from the child’s tender years onward? Or what if the mother takes on secular work when the need is not really great? Does she not give the impression that she finds the job more rewarding and pleasurable than staying home with her child or children? What if the father seems always to be “too busy” or “too tired” when his children seek some of his attention? Should parents who do this be surprised when they find their children developing an increasingly distant attitude? Parents must give their children great attention if they want God’s blessing themselves.—Gen. 18:19.
Many parents, however, may feel that they have demonstrated sincere love for their children in the past. Still they feel that their children’s respect is waning. Here, too, the Bible can help.
At Ephesians 6:1-4 the Christian apostle Paul counsels: “Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous: ‘Honor your father and your mother’; which is the first command with a promise: ‘That it may go well with you and you may endure a long time on the earth.’ And you, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” What does this tell us?
Your child will have greater reason for respecting you and your counsel if he sees clear evidence that you are “in union with the Lord,” being a true servant of God and a genuine follower of his Son, a disciple of his. You will also be in position to do the most for your child if you are truly “in union with the Lord.”
You may not be the strongest, the wealthiest, the best educated or the most capable person in the world. But if you can, by word and example, convey to your children the knowledge, understanding and wisdom that are to be found in the Bible, there is no person on earth that can give more to your child than that. You will be giving them what they need in order that they “may endure a long time on the earth,” yes, may gain eternal life in God’s favor. (Eph. 6:3) Moreover, you will positively show yourself to be a parent superior to the vast majority on earth today—for relatively few are willing to take the time, effort and thought to do as the apostle exhorted: “Go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.”—Eph. 6:4.
To do that you need knowledge—accurate knowledge of God’s Word. If you sincerely want that knowledge, for your own sake and for the benefit of your children, Jehovah’s witnesses will be glad to help you, free of charge. Simply ask them.