Parents, Protect Your Children
IF YOUR son told you he was being pressured by schoolmates to take drugs, what would you do? Or, if your daughter told you the boys at school were bothering her, how would you react?
Surely you would waste no time in doing something about it, would you? You would try to learn the facts and see what you could do to protect your child. That, you feel, is how you as a parent would respond. But in reality things do not always happen that way. Usually, by the time parents find out about such things it is already too late. Far too often, the only reaction is: “How could this happen to my boy (or my girl)?”
Youth Under Pressure
If you are a parent, do you know the kind of pressure under which your children are? Are you aware of what they are facing each day? The apostle Peter warned: “Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” (1 Peter 5:8) Although Satan aims at conquering and enslaving all mankind, young and old, he is clearly a greater threat to inexperienced youths, thus putting them under severe pressure.
Consider just a few examples. Under the headline “Crime By Minors Now 52% Of Total,” Japan’s Mainichi Daily News reports that among juvenile delinquents “crimes committed by 14-year-olds top the list.” In the United States, 3.3 million among those aged 14 to 17 are problem drinkers, one in every six teenagers uses drugs regularly, and nearly half a million children are born to unwed teenage mothers each year. The fact is that no matter where you live, your children are not immune to the wave of juvenile crime, violence, and immorality that is sweeping the earth.
You Can Help Them
All of this emphasizes that the youths of today are involved in a difficult fight. Whether they realize it or not, to come off victorious they need help from mature, experienced people. If you are a parent, are you in position to provide such help for your children? And are you willing to make the necessary effort to help them?
Much has been said and written about helping children; there is no lack of advice on the subject. In fact, if anything, the problem is in deciding which among the many conflicting opinions one should follow. For example, one expert may say that spanking is good. Another says it should never be done. Or one specialist may tell you not to reward your child for accomplishments if you do not want a spoiled child. But another says that commendation and rewards are essential if you do not want an insecure child. It is no wonder that, in the words of a staff member of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, what we have is “a generation of parents who are almost afraid to be parents.”
Seeing the grave situation, and the many cases of failure, you may wonder if it is really possible to bring up children to be mature, balanced, and, above all, godly individuals in this day and age. Before you resign yourself to the view that this cannot be done, remember that the apostle Paul wrote: “You, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” (Ephesians 6:4) Surely, God would not have given this responsibility to parents if it was something that could not be carried out.
An Exemplary Family
Noah and his family lived at a time very similar to ours. According to the Bible record, at that time “Jehovah saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time. . . . God saw the earth and, look! it was ruined, because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth.”—Genesis 6:5, 12.
How would you feel if you had to bring up your children under those circumstances? Comparing Genesis 5:32 with Genesis 7:6, we note that Noah’s sons were all born within a hundred-year period before the Flood. And yet, 120 years before the Flood, conditions already were so bad that Jehovah God said: “My spirit shall not act toward man indefinitely in that he is also flesh. Accordingly his days shall amount to a hundred and twenty years.”—Genesis 6:3.
In spite of such adverse conditions, Noah and his wife successfully reared their three sons to be God-fearing young men. Through obedient cooperation with their parents, they survived the Deluge that destroyed that ungodly generation.
What was the key to Noah’s success? The apostle Paul was inspired to say, at Hebrews 11:7: “By faith Noah, after being given divine warning of things not yet beheld, showed godly fear and constructed an ark for the saving of his household.” In fact, Genesis 6:22 tells us: “Noah proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.”
Undoubtedly, Noah’s faithfulness and diligence before Jehovah had firmly impressed on the minds of his sons how important it was for them to show the same qualities in their lives. During the ark-building project, he must have spent a lot of time working and talking with them, sharing and doing things with them. And, being “a preacher of righteousness,” Noah must have taught his own family Jehovah’s laws and requirements. As a result, Noah’s family survived the end of that ancient “world of ungodly people.”—2 Peter 2:5.
What You Can Do
It should be quite apparent, then, that parental example plays an important role in successfully teaching and training children. When a newspaper columnist was asked to name the biggest obstacle parents face in training children, he simply answered: “Themselves.” Parents who do not practice what they preach are working against their own interests and those of their children. (Compare Romans 2:21-23.) Consistency in this regard is essential. Thus, parents need to ask themselves: What do I believe are the most important things in life? What are my personal goals?
At Deuteronomy 6:7, parents are commanded: “You must inculcate them [words from Jehovah] 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.” That means communication. But not all speaking is necessarily communicating. A 17-year-old boy related that twice he tried to talk to his mother about the drug problem he was experiencing at school. “My mother told me to stay away from [the pushers],” he said. Did that help? Evidently not, because the boy still felt trapped by the pressure and did not know how to break away from it.
When youths are confronted with problems they cannot handle, their first recourse usually is to turn to their parents for answers, and this is a good thing. But such trust can easily be destroyed if parents fail to show understanding of their situation. Even if no immediate solution is available, where understanding is shown the lines of communication are kept open.
Correction is another essential in training children. A Bible proverb says: “The rod and reproof are what give wisdom; but a boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame.”—Proverbs 29:15.
Some time ago, the Houston, Texas, Police Department distributed a pamphlet entitled “12 rules for raising delinquent children.” Its tongue-in-cheek style may merit a chuckle, but nearly every one of the sobering “rules” has to do with correction or the lack of it. Here are a few examples:
□ “Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow to believe the world owes him a living.”
□ “When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he’s cute. . . .”
□ “Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is 21 and then let him ‘decide for himself.’”
□ “Avoid use of the word ‘wrong.’ It may develop a guilt complex. . . .”
Christian parents naturally are concerned about bringing up their children “in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” (Ephesians 6:4) This does not happen without effort—a great deal of it. But no investment of time and effort is too great when the end result is life for you and for your children.—Deuteronomy 6:2.
A Rewarding Assignment
“Look! Sons are an inheritance from Jehovah; the fruitage of the belly is a reward,” says the psalmist. (Psalm 127:3) In spite of the passing of time and the change in social customs, that statement is still true. The proof can be seen in the many, many youths in the Christian organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses who have grown up to be responsible, respectable, and resourceful young people. They are a credit to themselves, to their parents, and above all, to their Creator, Jehovah God.
You can reap the reward of bringing up your children with such satisfying results if you now take steps to train, teach, and protect them.
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Consistent guidance, good communication, and loving correction are essential in training your children