18. How does the extent to which parents apply or ignore Bible counsel affect the children?
18 The extent to which parents apply or ignore the Bible’s counsel in fulfilling their respective roles affects children either for good or for bad. If a wife undermines the God-given authority of her husband, the children may in time show little respect for the parents. They may play one parent against the other in attempts to get what they want. However, when a wife builds up the children’s appreciation for her husband’s judgment by word and example, they come to appreciate the benefits of approaching their father for advice and counsel. (Prov. 12:4) His openness in admitting mistakes and his willingness to take into consideration the family’s suggestions and feelings can do much toward creating a warm family spirit. When there are clear indications that he values his wife’s judgment, the children will also come to respect and appreciate their mother’s admonition. (Prov. 6:20-23; 31:28, 29) Yes, the warm, loving and respectful relationship between husband and wife that the Bible encourages draws the family together and makes children receptive to their parents’ instruction.
19. Why is the proper training of children no easy task?
19 Proper training of children is definitely not an easy task. Very early in life children manifest such bad traits as stubbornness, rebelliousness and selfishness. Parents must be alert to note wrong inclinations and then take appropriate disciplinary measures to correct their children, doing so patiently. (Prov. 22:15; 29:15) They must also be able to discern problems that could arise from things that in themselves may not appear to be wrong. Often it is a matter of parents’ being able to see when a certain course is no longer wholesome.
20. Why is isolationism a danger to be avoided?
20 For example, there is a difference between privacy and isolationism. A certain amount of privacy is beneficial for thoughtful meditation, constructive thinking and planning. But isolationism is dangerous, as it deprives one of the balancing effect of others’ thinking, experience and judgment. It may cause one to become self-centered and blind to the needs and feelings of others. Just seeing himself, the isolationist may pity himself or become opinionated, callous and rude. “One isolating himself,” says a Bible proverb, “will seek his own selfish longing; against all practical wisdom he will break forth.”—Prov. 18:1.
21. What might parents do to help their children to avoid isolating themselves?
21 Children who have a tendency to isolate themselves must be made to feel that they are wanted and appreciated members of the family, that their thoughts, emotions and experiences are important to their parents. In the example set by their parents they need to see positive proof that real happiness comes from giving of oneself in behalf of others. (Acts 20:35) Parents can provide such proof, not only by expressing genuine concern and sympathy for persons in need, but also by doing what they can to be of help. It may simply be a matter of doing shopping, cleaning or other chores for elderly, infirm or handicapped persons. At a very early age a child can be taught to share in such activity. This can do much to get the child to recognize the importance of showing concern for the welfare of other people.
22. How might children isolate themselves from adults, and what effect may this well have on them?
22 Parents must also watch that they do not encourage or allow their sons and daughters to isolate themselves with their own entertainment, friends, ideas or imaginations. A family needs to do things together in order to maintain good communication. Parents have to be on guard that they do not simply appear to do things as a family. Perhaps when visitors come to the home or the family visits elsewhere, the children as a regular matter of course withdraw themselves from the company of adults and keep away during the entire visit. They may even be told to do so. If children thus end up associating only with those of their own age group, how can they possibly develop appreciation for the wisdom that comes with age and experience? (Prov. 1:20, 21; 8:1-11) How can they learn to carry on meaningful conversation with adults and understand the aspirations, concerns, feelings and needs of older people? (Lev. 19:32) Will they not become narrow in their viewpoints, looking at matters only through the eyes of inexperienced youth? At the same time, will not parents likewise become narrow in their outlook, unaware of the thinking of their children? Will they not have a generation gap in their home?
23. How might parents fail to find out the real thinking and feelings of their children?
23 In other ways too parents may fail to determine the real feelings and thinking of their children and thereby lose touch with them. How might this happen? Absorbed in the pursuit of personal goals, parents may not take the time to listen to their children and to take note of their reactions. (Compare Proverbs 27:23.) They may ask their children about how things are going at school or how they regard smoking, taking drugs for thrills, conduct with the opposite sex, and so forth. While perhaps sensing that they do not have the full truth of the matter, parents may content themselves with their children’s brief answers and comments. Because of repeatedly ignoring evidence regarding their children’s deeper feelings as reflected in their tone of voice, facial expressions and extent of enthusiasm or spontaneity, such parents may in time not even notice attitudes and actions indicating that their sons and daughters really do not mean what they say. Parents may think that things are going well with their children, as they are being well provided for materially. In reality, however, the children may be quite discontented and believe that their parents have little interest in their welfare. Clearly, parental neglect of this kind results in a breakdown of vital family communication.
24. What admonition does Ephesians 6:4 give to fathers, and what can happen if it is disregarded?
24 Besides striving hard not to lose touch with their children’s thoughts and feelings, parents need to know how to discipline them. The Bible instructs fathers: “Do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” (Eph. 6:4) How might a father’s discipline irritate his children? He may be unreasonable in his commands, needlessly severe or inconsistent. Punishments may be meted out in the heat of anger. Since anger begets anger, the children may build up anger and resentment within themselves toward their father. They may submit to his discipline simply because they are forced to yield to his superior strength. Whenever this happens, the discipline will not really motivate them to do what is right. It may well bring out the worst in them—resentment, bitterness and rebelliousness.
25. What should a father do so that his discipline will affect his children for good?
25 The father who tries to make his children aware of his deep love for them and impresses upon them the value and rightness of a way of life that harmonizes with the Bible will have entirely different results. True, the children may at first not always recognize the rightness of their father’s discipline. But as they think about it afterward, they may come to appreciate it as an expression of a loving father who really cares for them.—Heb. 12:5-11.
26. Why is a father’s spending a reasonable amount of time with his children very important?
26 The administering of discipline is only a small part of a father’s Scriptural responsibility toward his children. He is also under obligation to spend a reasonable amount of time with them so that his example and teaching can counteract the wrong influences to which they are subjected at school and elsewhere. A father who takes this seriously will not think that he has done his full duty if he perhaps conducts a weekly Bible study with his family. He appreciates that bringing up children in the “mental-regulating of Jehovah” is a responsibility to be cared for each day if at all possible.—Deut. 6:6, 7.
27. What is involved in a father’s giving daily instruction to his children?
27 Daily instruction does not mean that a father must constantly be quoting the Scriptures to his children. But he needs to know what the Bible says and convey the spirit of its message to his children. His own attitude, words and actions should be in harmony with the Scriptures. Whenever the children need guidance, he should be able to help them to see things from the Biblical standpoint. In this way, God’s Word will be prominently before the children. A wife can be of great assistance to her husband in providing such vital training.—Prov. 1:8; 6:20; 31:26.
28. What must a wife do if her husband does not follow the counsel of God’s Word?
28 What if a husband does not take God’s Word seriously? What if only the wife appreciates its counsel? In that case the responsibility for bringing children up in the “mental-regulating of Jehovah” rests with the wife. (Compare Proverbs 31:1) This is not an ideal situation, but it is not hopeless. Many women have succeeded in aiding their children to become exemplary servants of Jehovah God.
29. How does the case of Timothy show that a mother can give fine Scriptural training despite the unbelief of her husband?
29 Take the case of Timothy in the first century C.E. Due to the efforts of his mother Eunice and likely also of his grandmother Lois, he came to appreciate the Scriptures. His mother, though it may have been difficult for her on account of her unbelieving husband, started teaching the Scriptures to her son at a very early age. That is why the apostle Paul could say to Timothy: “From infancy you have known the holy writings.” (2 Tim. 3:15) Yes, from his earliest recollections, Timothy never knew of a time when he had not been acquainted with the Sacred Scriptures. That excellent training contributed much toward making him a fine example in young manhood. He was well reported on by all who knew him well. (Acts 16:1, 2) To the congregation at Philippi, the apostle Paul said of Timothy: “I have no one else of a disposition like his who will genuinely care for the things pertaining to you. . . . you know the proof he gave of himself, that like a child with a father he slaved with me in furtherance of the good news.”—Phil. 2:20-22.
30. How should parents feel about training children even if they have only recently come to appreciate the value of the Bible?
30 There can be no question that training children in the way the Bible outlines requires much time and effort. But are not the time spent and the effort put forth well worth it? Is it not rewarding when children prove themselves to be a credit to their parents? Even if parents have failed in the past because of not appreciating the value of the Bible, they may still be able to undo the damage resulting from lack of proper guidance and discipline. The application of the Bible’s principles may even reach the hearts of older children as they see that their parents truly have their best interests at heart.
20. Why is isolationism a danger to be avoided?