Questions From Readers
● As a widow with teen-age children, I learned the truth of God’s Word about a year ago. Should I insist that my children go to the congregation meetings, even though they may be reluctant to do so?
It is proper that a Christian parent require children to attend Christian meetings. God’s Word admonishes: “You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.” “Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.”—Col. 3:20; Prov. 22:6.
Progress in this, of course, will depend to a considerable degree on the age and response of the child, and you will have to decide how far it is wise to go in taking measures to enforce what you require.
In your case, the children have not been ‘trained up’ from birth in the principles of true worship, but there is still time to accomplish good in their behalf as long as they are in the home. “Chastise your son while there exists hope,” says the inspired proverb. (Prov. 19:18) Of course, physically forcing a child, particularly those no longer of tender years, to attend is not usually the best way to handle the situation and may be actually counterproductive. But the right combination of loving counsel, patience, understanding and firmness in dealing with the attitude of a particular child will often produce rewarding results. Do not give up on the child or be easily discouraged or overcome.
The obligation rests upon parents to provide not only materially but also spiritually for their children. Children may not like to go to school, but, knowing what is best for a child and having respect for “Caesar’s” law that a child go to school up to a certain age or grade, most parents do not hesitate to require compliance with the law that children go to school. If this is important as far as a secular education is concerned, how much more important is it in connection with an education in Jehovah’s life-giving law.
But circumstances vary. If a good measure of permissiveness prevailed in the home in the past, before Bible principles began to be introduced, it likely will take time before the children get acclimated to closer parental control. The Christian parent may find it advisable, first of all, to sit down with the children and kindly explain to them how and why adjustments will be made in the home in the future. This can be done progressively, step by step. Show how the Bible’s counsel and requirements are reasonable and bring lasting benefits. Everlasting life is involved. Your acknowledging mistakes in judgment and training of the past will help the children to see that you, too, are changing your life to conform to God’s better way. They will be more easily able to see that you are not being arbitrary or dictatorial, merely imposing your own will on them. It will point them to God as Ruler, and will encourage them to cooperate more readily. Keep the goal of regular attendance in mind, as Bible principles are progressively put into effect in the home. Setting 100-percent attendance as the goal immediately may or may not be realistic. But be patient. Give the counsel of God’s Word time to reach the heart. Help the children, as you go along, to see and appreciate this counsel and the better, happier relationship in the family. Be consistent by setting the right example in your own course of life. Example speaks louder than words in many instances.
Some children may be reluctant to change because they were established already in another religion. They may object to accepting different teachings. Do not ridicule them. Rather, just as you would do with others whom you teach Bible truth, teach your children. They need home Bible study just as you did.
Also, having to leave old friends and acquire new friends may be a factor. Try to be a better friend and companion yourself and encourage association with younger ones in the congregation.
As personalities and circumstances differ, the parent should take these things into consideration. Admittedly, situations of this nature can be complicated at times and delicate to handle, but by your keeping in mind the objective of having the children understand the truth and become true Christians, and patiently and understandingly working toward this end for the children’s everlasting good, Jehovah’s blessing can be expected upon your efforts. The attending of Christian meetings is an essential part of Christian life. The spirit of Jehovah God is markedly manifest there, and regular attendance at these meetings is a strong influence for maintaining faith. Therefore every reasonable effort should be put forth by the parent, based on the above considerations, to be there with the children as regularly as possible.