Parents, Protect Your Precious Inheritance
“Wisdom is for a protection . . . [It] preserves alive its owners.”—ECCLESIASTES 7:12.
1. Why should parents view their children as gifts?
PARENTS bring into the world a new living person who has physical characteristics and personality traits similar to their own. The Bible calls such little ones “an inheritance from Jehovah.” (Psalm 127:3) Since he is the true Life-Giver, Jehovah is really entrusting parents with what ultimately belongs to him. (Psalm 36:9) Parents, how do you view receiving such a precious gift from God?
2. What was Manoah’s response upon learning that he was to become a father?
2 Surely such a gift should be received with humility and appreciation. Over 3,000 years ago, the Israelite Manoah responded in this way when his wife was informed by an angel that she was to bear a child. Upon hearing the good news, Manoah prayed: “Excuse me, Jehovah. The man of the true God that you just sent, let him, please, come again to us and instruct us as to what we ought to do to the child that will be born.” (Judges 13:8) Parents, what can you learn from Manoah’s example?
Why Divine Help Is Needed Now
3. Why is God’s help in rearing children especially needed today?
3 Now more than ever before, parents need Jehovah’s help in rearing their children. The reason? Satan the Devil and his angels have been hurled from heaven down to earth. “Woe for the earth,” the Bible warns, “because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:7-9, 12) “Like a roaring lion,” the Bible explains, Satan is “seeking to devour someone.” (1 Peter 5:8) Lions usually prey on the most vulnerable, often the young. Wisely, then, Christian parents look to Jehovah for direction to protect their children. How much effort are you making to do so?
4. (a) Knowing that a lion is roaming in the neighborhood should prompt what reaction from parents? (b) What do children need for protection?
4 If you knew that a lion was loose in the neighborhood, protecting your children would surely be a primary concern. Satan is a predator. He seeks to corrupt God’s people, thus making them unworthy of God’s approval. (Job 2:1-7; 1 John 5:19) Children are an easy target. To escape the snares of the Devil, children must come to know and obey Jehovah. Bible knowledge is essential. “This means everlasting life,” Jesus said, “their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Furthermore, young ones need wisdom—the ability to understand and to apply what they learn. Since “wisdom itself preserves alive its owners,” you parents need to instill the truth in the hearts of your children. (Ecclesiastes 7:12) How might you do this?
5. (a) How can wisdom be imparted? (b) How does Proverbs describe the value of wisdom?
5 You can—and should—read to your children from God’s Word. But helping them to love and obey Jehovah requires more than that—it requires understanding on their part. To illustrate: A child may be told not to cross the street before looking both ways. Yet, some children do not obey. Why not? The consequences of being hit by a car may not have been explained often enough or in a manner that impresses the danger upon the child, overcoming the “foolishness” that could lead to an accident. Imparting wisdom takes time, as well as much patience. But how valuable wisdom is! “Its ways are ways of pleasantness,” the Bible says, “and all its roadways are peace. It is a tree of life to those taking hold of it, and those keeping fast hold of it are to be called happy.”—Proverbs 3:13-18; 22:15.
Teaching That Imparts Wisdom
6. (a) Why do children often act unwisely? (b) What battle is going on?
6 Often young ones act improperly, not because they have not been taught what is right, but because the teaching has not reached their heart—their inner self. The Devil is waging a battle for the heart of young ones. He schemes to see that they are exposed to ungodly influences of his world. He also tries to exploit their inherited sinful inclination to do bad things. (Genesis 8:21; Psalm 51:5) Parents need to recognize that a real war is being waged for the heart of their children.
7. Why is telling a child what is right or wrong not sufficient?
7 Parents usually tell a child what is right or wrong, believing that they have taught him a certain moral principle. They may say to the child that it is wrong to lie, to steal, or to have sexual relations with anyone to whom one is not married. However, the child needs to have a stronger motivation for obeying than simply because his parents say so. These are Jehovah’s laws. The child should learn that the course of wisdom is to obey God’s commandments.—Proverbs 6:16-19; Hebrews 13:4.
8. What kind of teaching can help children act wisely?
8 The complexity of the universe, the diversity of living things, the change of the seasons—all such things can help a young child appreciate the existence of an all-wise Creator. (Romans 1:20; Hebrews 3:4) Further, the child should be taught that God loves him and has made provision through the sacrifice of His Son to give him eternal life and that he can make God happy by obeying what He says. Then likely the child will come to want to serve Jehovah, despite attempts of the Devil to stop him.—Proverbs 22:6; 27:11; John 3:16.
9. (a) What does lifesaving teaching require? (b) What are fathers instructed to do, and what does this involve?
9 The kind of teaching that protects a child and motivates him to do what is right takes time, attention, and planning. It requires that parents accept direction from God. The Bible says: “You, fathers, . . . go on bringing [your children] up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” (Ephesians 6:4) What does that mean? “Mental-regulating,” in the original Greek, conveys the idea of “putting mind in.” So fathers are, in effect, urged to put the mind of Jehovah in their children. What a protection that will be for the young ones! If children have God’s thoughts, his way of thinking, inculcated in their mind, they are safeguarded against wrongdoing.
Desire Motivated by Love
10. To instruct your child effectively, what is it important for you to know?
10 In order for you to fulfill your desire to bring your child up properly, however, your efforts need to be prompted by love. An important factor is good communication. Find out what is happening in your youngster’s life and what his or her views are. In a comfortable setting, tactfully draw out your child. At times, you may be shocked by what he says. Be very careful not to overreact. Rather, listen with sympathetic concern.
11. How can a parent put God’s mind in a child?
11 True, you may have read to your child from the Bible about God’s laws prohibiting sexual immorality, even doing so a number of times. (1 Corinthians 6:18; Ephesians 5:5) This may have impressed upon your young ones what is pleasing and not pleasing to Jehovah. However, putting his mind in a child requires more. Children need help to reason on the value of Jehovah’s laws. They need to be convinced that his laws are right and good and that obeying them is the proper and loving thing to do. Only if you reason with your children from the Scriptures so that they accept God’s viewpoint can it be said that you have put his mind in them.
12. How can a parent help his child to get the proper view of sexual relations?
12 When talking about sex, you might ask, “Do you think that obeying Jehovah’s law not to have sexual relations before marriage will rob a person of happiness?” Encourage your child to explain his answer. After reviewing God’s marvelous provision for producing a child, you might ask: “Do you think our loving God would make laws to rob us of enjoyment of life? Or do you think his laws are there to make us happy and to protect us?” (Psalm 119:1, 2; Isaiah 48:17) Get your child’s thinking on this matter. Then you might draw attention to examples of how sexual immorality has led to heartache and trouble. (2 Samuel 13:1-33) By reasoning with your child so that he understands and accepts God’s view, you will have gone a long way toward putting God’s mind in him. However, there is something else you can do.
13. Understanding what can especially motivate a child to obey Jehovah?
13 Wisely, you will not only teach your child the consequences of disobeying Jehovah but also explain how Jehovah is personally affected by the way we live. Show your child from the Bible that we can cause Jehovah pain when we fail to do his will. (Psalm 78:41) You might ask, “Why do you not want to hurt Jehovah?” and explain: “God’s enemy Satan claims that we serve Jehovah for selfish reasons and not because we love him.” Then explain that by keeping integrity, Job made God’s heart rejoice, thus providing an answer to Satan’s lying charge. (Job 1:9-11; 27:5) Your child needs to understand that depending on how he behaves, he can make Jehovah either sad or happy. (Proverbs 27:11) This and many other vital lessons can be taught to children by using the book Learn From the Great Teacher.*
14, 15. (a) Which lessons in the Teacher book have motivated children? (b) What good results have you had from using the book? (See also box on pages 18-19.)
14 A grandfather in Croatia who reads the Teacher book with his seven-year-old grandson writes that the boy told him the following: “Mum said to do something, but I didn’t want to do it. Then I remembered the chapter ‘Obedience Protects You,’ so I went back and told her I would be obedient to her.” Regarding the chapter “Why We Should Not Lie,” a couple in Florida, U.S.A., said: “It provides questions that invite children to open their hearts and admit errors they would otherwise not admit.”
15 The Teacher book has more than 230 pictures, and there is a caption, or description, for each picture or group of pictures. “Often my son will fix his eyes on a picture and not want the page turned,” noted one appreciative mother. “Not only are the pictures appealing but they teach lessons on their own, or at least cause children to ask questions. Regarding a picture in which a child is watching television in a darkened room, my son asked, ‘Mommy, what is that boy doing?’ in a tone that indicated that he knew that something was wrong.” The caption to the picture reads: “Who can see everything we do?”
Vital Education for Today
16. What is it vital that children be taught today, and why?
16 Children need to know the proper and the improper use of their private body parts. Yet, talking about this is not always easy. A newspaper columnist observed that she grew up in an era in which using words that refer to the sexual organs was considered rude. Concerning the teaching of her children, she wrote: “I’m going to have to get over my embarrassment.” Truly, when out of embarrassment parents avoid the subject of sex, it does not protect a child. Sexual molesters exploit a child’s ignorance. Learn From the Great Teacher addresses the subject in a wholesome, dignified manner. Informing children about sex does not take away their innocence, whereas failing to do so can lead to their being robbed of it.
17. How does the Teacher book help parents to teach their children about sex?
17 In chapter 10, when discussing the wicked angels who came to earth and fathered children, the child is asked, “What do you know about sex relations?” The book gives a simple, dignified answer. Later, chapter 32 explains how children can be protected from sexual predators. Many letters have reported that such teaching is vital. One observed: “Last week when my son Javan saw his pediatrician, she asked if we had discussed with him the proper use of private parts of the body. She was very impressed that we had done this using our new book.”
18. How does the Teacher book discuss paying homage to national emblems?
18 Another chapter deals with the Bible account of the three Hebrew youths Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who refused to bow to an image representing the Babylonian State. (Daniel 3:1-30) Some may not relate paying homage to an image to saluting the flag, as the Teacher book does. However, note what author Edward Gaffney had to say in an interview by U.S. Catholic. He mentioned that when his daughter told him after her first day at public school that she had learned a “new prayer at school,” he asked her to repeat it to him. “She put her hand on her heart,” said Gaffney, “and proudly began, ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag . . .’” He continued: “All of a sudden, it kicked in. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were right. There is an aspect of national spirituality that’s being shaped in our schools at a very early stage—an unquestioning transcendent loyalty.”
Worth All the Effort
19. What rewards are there for teaching children?
19 Really, teaching your children is worth all your effort. A mother in Kansas, U.S.A., was moved to tears upon receiving a letter from her son. He wrote: “I feel very fortunate to have had an upbringing that left me relatively emotionally stable and whole. You and Daddy certainly deserve commendation.” (Proverbs 31:28) Learn From the Great Teacher can help many more parents to teach children so as to protect this precious heritage.
20. What should parents always remember, and what effect should that have on them?
20 Our children deserve all the time, attention, and effort we can give them. They are young for such a short time. Take advantage of every opportunity to be with them and to help them. You will never regret it. They will come to love you. Always remember, your children are God’s gift to you. What a precious inheritance they are! (Psalm 127:3-5) So treat them as such, as though you are answerable to God for how you rear them because the fact is, you are.
Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. See chapter 40, “How to Make God Happy.”
How Would You Answer?
• Why do parents especially now need to protect their children?
• What kind of teaching imparts wisdom?
• What are vital issues to discuss with your children today?
• How has the Teacher book helped parents teach their children?
[Box/Pictures on page 18, 19]
A Book for Everyone
Learn From the Great Teacher was prepared to help parents or other adults read and discuss the teachings of Jesus Christ with children. Yet, adults who have read the book by themselves have expressed sincere appreciation for what they have learned.
A man in Texas, U.S.A., said: “Learn From the Great Teacher is eloquent in its simplicity, motivating us at any age—even at 76, as I am. Thank you very much, from one who has served Jehovah since youth.”
A reader from London, England, reports: “The beautiful illustrations are bound to capture the hearts of parents and children alike. The questions and format are wonderful, and how fantastic to see sensitive issues dealt with, as in chapter 32, ‘How Jesus Was Protected.’” She concluded: “Even though this book is no doubt primarily designed with the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses in mind, I imagine that teachers and others will be more than glad to have a copy too. I look forward to using it in the months and years to come.”
A woman from Massachusetts, U.S.A., commented about the many “well-thought-out pictures.” She observed: “I noticed that even though the book is meant for children, the subjects discussed can also help us adults think about our personal relationship with Jehovah.”
“Wow! What a wonderful book!” exclaimed a woman from Maine, U.S.A. “It is not just for young ones but for all of us as God’s children. It has reached into places I didn’t know were there and has stirred emotions and then soothed them, so that there was peace. I feel so close to Jehovah as my Father. He has taken away all the hurt that has happened over the years and has made his purpose so clear.” She concluded: “I’m telling everyone, ‘Please read it.’”
A woman from Kyoto, Japan, reported that when she was reading to her grandchildren, they asked such questions as: “‘What is that boy doing? Why is this little girl being scolded? What about this mother? What about this lion?’ It teaches things we are interested in, so I love it much more than any book I could find in a library.”
A father in Calgary, Canada, says that as soon as he received the book, he began to read it to his six-year-old daughter and his nine-year-old son. “Immediately the response was wonderful,” he reports. “My children were following along and answering the questions from their heart. They felt a part of the study, and it gave them a chance to express themselves. They have come alive, and my daughter says she wants to study from the new book every night.”
After one study, the father said: “My son and I talked for hours about Jehovah and his purposes. He had so many questions that came from the book. Tears came to my eyes when he said good night to me and asked: ‘Can we do this again, Dad? I have so many questions, and I want to know everything about Jehovah.’”
[Picture on page 15]
Parents, what can you learn from Manoah’s example?
[Picture on page 16]
Young ones, what can you learn from the example of the three Hebrews?
[Pictures on page 17]
The pictures and captions in the “Teacher” book are powerful teaching tools
What lie is Ananias telling Peter?
Who can see everything we do?