How Can I Help My Children Become Truly Educated?
THE education of a child might be likened to an exciting and challenging journey. It is a journey that you and your children make together. You give them encouragement and lovingly provide guidance, helping them to progress along the path of life. There is so much for them to learn!
To be truly successful and happy in life, children must develop moral and spiritual values, learning to distinguish right from wrong. If they come to know and love Jehovah, their education will be truly rewarding and the instruction they receive will last forever. As a parent, you play a major role in what your children learn and how they value and interpret what they learn.
There are challenges to be met on this journey. Children are impressionable, and from sources outside the family, they can learn many things that are far from wholesome. We live in a world dominated by Satan the Devil. (1 John 5:19) He is interested in the education of your children, though for entirely different reasons. Satan is a skillful and very experienced educator—but a wicked one indeed. Though he pretends to be “an angel of light,” the enlightenment he offers is deceptive and contrary to Jehovah’s Word and will. (2 Corinthians 4:4; 11:14; Jeremiah 8:9) Both the Devil and his demons are masters of deceit, promoting selfishness, dishonesty, and moral degradation.—1 Timothy 4:1.
What can you do to protect your children from being misled? How can you teach them to embrace what is true and worthwhile? An important step is to take a close look at yourself. You need to set a good example. It is also vital that you accept your responsibility to train your children and take the time needed to do so. Before we consider these points, however, let us identify the foundation of a worthwhile education.
The Foundation of a True Education
We can learn from Israel’s King Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived. The Bible tells us: “God continued giving Solomon wisdom and understanding in very great measure and a broadness of heart, like the sand that is upon the seashore. And Solomon’s wisdom was vaster than the wisdom of all the Orientals and than all the wisdom of Egypt.” Solomon “could speak three thousand proverbs, and his songs came to be a thousand and five.” He had profound knowledge of botany and animal life. (1 Kings 4:29-34) King Solomon also supervised Israel’s building projects, including the construction of the magnificent temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem.
Solomon’s writings, such as those found in the book of Ecclesiastes, reveal that he had a deep understanding of human nature. He was divinely inspired to point to the foundation of true education. Solomon said: “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge.” The wise king also stated: “The fear of Jehovah is the start of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Most Holy One is what understanding is.”—Proverbs 1:7; 9:10.
If we fear God, we have reverential regard for him and are careful not to displease him. We recognize that he is the Supreme One and that we are subject to him. Those who disregard the one on whom our lives depend may be considered wise by men, but such wisdom is “foolishness with God.” (1 Corinthians 3:19) Your children need an education that is based on “the wisdom that comes down from above.”—James 3:15, 17.
Fear of displeasing Jehovah is closely related to love for him. Jehovah desires that his servants both fear him and love him. Moses said: “O Israel, what is Jehovah your God asking of you but to fear Jehovah your God, so as to walk in all his ways and to love him and to serve Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul; to keep the commandments of Jehovah and his statutes that I am commanding you today, for your good?”—Deuteronomy 10:12, 13.
If we instill in our children reverential fear of Jehovah, we will be laying the foundation for an education that will make our offspring truly wise. As they build on that foundation, they will grow in their appreciation for their Creator, the Source of all true knowledge. This will help our children to put what they learn into proper perspective, not drawing wrong conclusions. They will develop the ability to “distinguish both right and wrong.” (Hebrews 5:14) Such a foundation will also help them to remain humble and to avoid doing what is bad.—Proverbs 8:13; 16:6.
Your Children Are Watching You!
How, though, may we help our children to love Jehovah and fear him? The answer to that question is found in the Law that Jehovah gave the people of Israel through the prophet Moses. Israelite parents were told: “You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your vital force. And these words that I am commanding you today must prove to be on your heart; and you must inculcate them 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.”—Deuteronomy 6:5-7.
This passage teaches parents important lessons. One is this: As a parent, you must set a good example. To teach your children to love Jehovah, you yourself must love God, and his words must be on your heart. Why is this so important? Because you are the primary teacher of your children. What they learn from your example will have a profound effect on them. And nothing exerts more influence on a child’s life than parental example.
Your dreams, ideals, values, and interests manifest themselves not only in what you say but also in what you do. (Romans 2:21, 22) From infancy, children learn by carefully observing their parents. Children perceive what is important to their parents, and these are the things that often become important to young ones. If you truly love Jehovah, your children will discern that. For instance, they will see that Bible reading and study are important to you. They will come to realize that you put Kingdom interests first in life. (Matthew 6:33) Your regular presence at Christian meetings and participation in the Kingdom-preaching work will show them that rendering sacred service to Jehovah is of utmost importance to you.—Matthew 28:19, 20; Hebrews 10:24, 25.
Shoulder Your Responsibility
Another lesson parents can learn from Deuteronomy 6:5-7 is this: You have the responsibility to train your children. Among Jehovah’s people of ancient times, parents cared for the education of their children. Among first-century Christians, parents continued to play a vital role in educating their children. (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14, 15) In writing to fellow Christians, the apostle Paul indicated that fathers in particular were to “go on bringing [their children] up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.”—Ephesians 6:4.
Pressured by present-day demands, work, and competing interests, parents may be tempted to leave the education of their children to others, such as schoolteachers and child-care professionals. Yet, no one can take the place of a loving, caring parent. Never underestimate your importance and influence. If you need help, choose it wisely, but never surrender your sacred duty.
Spend Time Training Your Children
Yet another lesson parents learn from Deuteronomy 6:5-7 is this: Training children takes time and effort. Israelite parents were to “inculcate” God’s truth in their children. The original Hebrew rendered “inculcate” means “to repeat,” “to say again and again.” This was to be done throughout the day, yes, from dawn to dusk, “in your house” and “on the road.” It takes time and effort to teach children and to shape their attitude and behavior so that they will be pleasing to God.
What, then, can you do to help your children become truly educated? A great deal. Teach them to love Jehovah and to fear him. Set a good example. Shoulder your responsibility to teach your children, and take the time needed to train them. You are not perfect, and you will make mistakes along the way. But if you sincerely endeavor to do God’s will, your children will very likely appreciate your efforts and benefit from them. “Train up a boy according to the way for him,” says Proverbs 22:6. “Even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.” The same principle applies to girls.
Education is a journey that lasts a lifetime. If you and your children love God, it is a journey that you will be able to enjoy throughout eternity. That is because there will always be more to learn about Jehovah and how we can serve his purpose.—Ecclesiastes 3:10, 11.
[Picture on page 15]
Do you read the Bible to your children?
[Picture on page 16]
Take time to teach your children about the Creator