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The Responsibility of Parents to Their Children in the 21st Century

by

Chris Herd

As parents we all want the best for our children, and the best we can ever give them would have to be God's way. To save the souls of the lost is a great feat, and how sad it would be to neglect the souls of our children. If we love our children, we have an honoured position. We have a privilege that comes with a great responsibility, a God given responsibility.

What is God's will for 21st century parents toward their children? What a difficult time for the parents of today! We have a nation that continually gets further from God, we have a degraded outlook as to what a family is, and we have laws that encourage abuse of God's will for the family unit. Broken marriages are rampant, and dysfunctional homes are an evident part of society, resulting in children who are deprived of ever seeing the nature of God in the home.

Mankind as a majority tends to travel away from God, but for the minority, for the Christian, we seek to get closer to Him. The battle for parents today, is to have homes that, God intended and not as the world has fashioned them to be. Truth is, the will of God for the parents toward their children is the same today as it was in the 1st century, as God's nature does not change with each century.

As we must establish that the responsibility for parents comes down from our Father in heaven, we then must seek His ultimate will for our families. We have responsibilities for the father, the mother, the husband, the wife, and the children, God does not leave us out on a limb, thinking, what should I do, how can I know how to bring up my children? I would like to begin with a quote from the Bible.

Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren. Gather the people to Me and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children (Deuteronomy 4: 9-10).

These verses contain responsibility, yet many of us seem to forget, that these commands although they were given directly to the children of Israel, we too have to acknowledge that God speaks to us, and we are to learn from the divine example.

Whenever we read scripture we must seek the application and we must take it personally, seeing our responsibility to adhere to God's will. Here in relation to the family. Responsibilities given to parents toward their children no doubt are a God given responsibilities for every household. This is a great topic and it is a privilege to be able to speak about it with you. God has a will for all mankind, He has a way in which He desires us to live our lives and of how He wants us to direct the lives of our children. We should truly want to fulfil and live the statement of Joshua: "...but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:15). As the mighty leader Joshua sought God's way, we must seek divine guidance through His word for the bringing up of our children also.

Godly instruction is the responsibility of the parents. Many today, within an without the Lord's body, sell their families short of good Biblical leadership within the home and rob their children of a deep relationship with God. I speak from personal experience, the experience of a man becoming so caught up in the events of every day living that the home is neglected. I remember being self employed, I remember the dead lines, the appointments that went late into the evening, the pressures of needing to make more money so that my family could be happy, so I could take care of my children, so they could have all of their needs.

What I failed to see back then, was that my families needs were being were limited to things of a material nature, but what they really needed was a father. Yet at the time I felt quite justified to see that I was doing God's will. I was being the bread winner and provider for my family.

In fact if you were to ask most Australian men what their role is as a father, they would say to provide my family's needs. Yet even Jesus stated quite clearly in Matthew 4:11: "...man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God". The physical needs or requirements are but a fragment of any child's upbringing. Many sell their families short of spiritual blessings by neglecting our Saviour's plea, "...seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).

It is evident that for a man to be effective in the vineyard of the Lord, he must first be an effective worker in the home. What good is it to any man, if he is out saving souls but his home is in ruins? We have the example in Scripture,

One who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence, for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God (I Timothy 3:4-5).

The elder, a desirable position, one that all men should strive to qualify for, yet one of the qualifications states that the man must have his home in order before he even considers the responsibility of elder. This setting of priorities is not by mistake, but by design and needs to be respected.

Another scripture, "...set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live" (II Kings 20:1). Hezekiah was ill and at the point of death, and this was the important instruction to take care of his household, to ensure it was in order. As parents, we too will die, how important is it that before we go that our homes are in order for God? The parent must have the goal of getting their children to heaven and to do whatever humanly possible for them to generate love and respect for God in their child. Sadly many homes are too far gone before the fathers realize this valuable lesson, but not only fathers, as many mothers are working the second job, to provide the families "needs". The mother is not home, and quite often the children are in the hands of baby sitters and childcare. I believe strongly that today's home must determine the difference between, their needs and their wants, the things which are materially important and the things which are spiritually vital.

The responsibility of training the children

Every parent has responsibilities and is under obligation to provide for their families' needs. We must ascertain that each and every family has needs which are, spiritual, emotional and physical. These needs are equally needed for adults and children within the home.

The important point for parents to see that life should never be so pre-occupied that the needs of the family are neglected. Our wants should never become our needs and this is not the mentality we want to instill in the minds of our children. What exactly do we instill in the minds of our children. If not materialism and the world, what do we teach them?

The Bible says very clearly, just how the fathers, note the fathers, are to teach their children, to seek to rear their children in the manner as directed by the Bible. How many fathers today leave this to the mother? Fatherhood is a God ordained privilege but it is also a very demanding and serious responsibility.

Ephesians 6:4: "Fathers do not provoke your children to wrath but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord". Not wrath, in other words we are not to frustrate our children, not to anger them through poor communication and treat them unjustly or unfairly.

We are to however, seek to understand our children; take time to talk about problems, do our best to work out things together, do things together, find hobbies and activities that we enjoy doing together, create a sense of humor in our children. In order to do this we seek to cater for their physical needs as well as emotional and spiritual. Exactly what then are training and admonition?

TRAINING or nurture implies that the parent is to instruct, teach, and discipline.

ADMONITION: the idea of training by word of encouragement when it proves sufficient, but also to blame and reproof when necessary. Training of the young minds is essential for the development of the child. Training and admonition, the deepest explanation of this process, it means to saturate and deepen them in the things of God. If we as fathers do not do this, then we fail to uphold the whole council of God.

As for the training and admonition of the Lord, how do we put into practice the requirements placed upon us as parents? We do it by catering for the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of our children. Primarily we must first teach by example. We can teach our children God's way, but unless they see us living God's way, all teaching will be in vain.

I Timothy 4:12: "...be an example in word, in conduct". This command was given to Timothy, but can be applied to every Christian and therefore is for the parents toward their children as well. Not hypocritical but from the heart, live it daily. "...Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

I have heard it said that I would rather see a good sermon than hear one any day. The understanding of leading by example, instead of "do what I say but not what I do". If we expect our children to ever respect God, we must first show them how much we love and respect Him. Children will know if mum and dad are hypocritical in their service to God, they will see by your actions. They will know if you enjoy worship or place more importance into other things.

Do we as adults respect people who teach us not to do things that they do themselves? Do people who are hypocritical and self-righteous earn our respect? Jesus addressed this type of person in Matthew 23:3-4:

Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

We must not be hypocritical in our service to God, so we can show our children that God's word is the rule in which we live by. This is just as Joshua 24:15 states: "...but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD". Imagine if Joshua did not continue in the ways of the Lord, why state such a thing? But because he lived as he stated, we have an example to live by. We need more Christian men like Joshua today.

Parents toward each other

In order for our children to be well adjusted or balanced, they must be reared in homes where the father loves and appreciates the mother. "Husbands love your wives , just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25).

Young men are going to look to dad to see how they to are expected to be as husbands and fathers, and girls look to dad for respect and acceptance. In fact girls who have good fathers who have a relationship with them, prove to marry later in life and are more balanced.

Children must see that mum and dad, although they disagree at times and they have moments where they want to be alone, truly love one another. How we treat each other, the respect we show, will filter down through the family unit and effect young impressionable minds more than we can imagine. Homes where the parents continually fight and hurl abuse at one another will cripple the minds of the developing child. Children need to be able look to their parents as examples of the kind of people they too want to be.

For the mother it is equally important for the children to see that the mother loves and respects the father. Ephesians 5:22: "Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord". Dad is to be the head of the home and the mother must reflect that he is and that she respects his God given authority, enough to let him lead.

Quite often this may mean that the wife will, although giving her opinion, leave the husband room to make the final decision. The outcome from this can often be that the man makes the wrong decision, but it also enables him to learn by the experience and grow as a leader.

Girls will look to mum to see how they should be as wives, and mothers must be conscious of this. The Christian home should be one where the parents show love, understanding, helpfulness, discipline and appreciation for the children. No one's children should be more important or precious than our own. We must never forget that Jesus stated: "By this will all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

Jesus stated that by His disciples' deeds of love for one another, others would know they lived for Jesus. By example, by deeds, not words only as James also tells us. How we live is going to be evident of the relationship we have with God. If our children are to live for God, we must also live for God ourselves.

It is important that we prepare our children for the world, which they are going to have to survive in and to draw application by the events that they encounter each day to see God is present. We as parents we must direct our children's hearts and minds to think spiritually, to see God's way. The idea of teaching by word and deed is not a new idea, but is a God given Biblical principle.

Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, The LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on your doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

Notice as Moses reaffirms the commandments of God to the people, preparing them for entering the promised land, words that were to be used to lay the foundation of a great nation. You would have expected advice for example of building a great army, or wealth, yet, the instruction comes to ground the family in God's way. This shows us that the home environment is so important, that it is the foundation of a nation. Moses after seeing the Israelites wander and fall after 40 years in the wilderness, begins to instruct the people in how to have homes that were dedicated totally to God in the truest sense.

God's people were to commanded to:

  1. Understand that the LORD is one.
  2. In response to understanding the awesome power of the Almighty God, they were to commit themselves to Him, heart soul and might, in essence their whole being.
  3. After totally dedicating their lives to God, the instruction to teach the children.

If we as parents see that God is awesome, that's if we do, then wouldn't we want to pass this on to our children? If we believe that salvation is found within the Bible, wouldn't we want our children to gain eternal life? If we do not teach our children, do we really believe?

Moses gave the LORD God's instruction for a purpose, this was to ensure that the family would not stray from the will of God. How many of you have heard of second, third or fourth generation Christian families? Very few children, born into Christian households, are being taught the counsel of God. Fathers are relying completely upon the assistance of Bible schoolteachers to train up their children and not taking on their God given responsibility. The few years that our children are at home are to be considered as the most important nurturing and training years of their lives.

The responsibility for God's discipline of our children

In the 21st century parents are faced with the fear of rebuke for disciplining their children. We live in a world that is governed by radical decision making: someone shoots someone else, ban all guns, yet if we used the same principle, alcohol kills thousands and ruins homes, yet they legalize it. Because of child abuse, they say you can no longer discipline. To avoid discipline all together we are abusing our children.

Proverbs 17:25: "A foolish son is a grief to his father"; Proverbs 29:15: "a child left to himself brings shame to the mother". The homes today are evidently lacking in true Biblical discipline. This is evident by the lack of respect that youth have today. Some parents claim to love their children too much to discipline them. Yet the LORD states that if they do not discipline the child, they do not love the child at all.

My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him. For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives (Hebrews 12:5-6).

If God loves us, he chastens us. Now chastens and chastisement are similar words meaning originally 'instruction of children'. It evolved into chastening because all effectual instruction for the sinful children of men includes and implies chastening. Therefore here in the scriptures we have this word relating to the child of God, also meaning to bring up a child, to educate. It is used to describe the moral and spiritual nurture and training of a child. In a religious sense, to chastise in order to educate someone is to conform them to the truth.

Discipline is essential for training and educating our children in righteousness. If we discipline them it is because we love them, as God loves us. If there were no punishment for disobedience, how many of you would remain obedient? If your parents disciplined you God's way as a child, how many of you think it did you any harm? I have never heard an adult say "I'm sorry that my parents disciplined me for wrongdoing".

God's discipline is because He regards us as sons, we are not illegitimate, and the discipline is to be regarded as training in righteousness. (Hebrews 12: 7-8, 11). If we love our children, we will not despise God's way, He knows best. If we do neglect discipline we do not love our child and as scripture states: "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him" (Proverbs 22:15). Also, "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly" (Proverbs 13:24).

Good Honest Hard Work

Fathers must also teach their child the dignity and reward of honest labour. Fathers cheat their children when they fail to teach this principle. An old Hebrew proverb goes, "He that does not teach his son a trade, trains him to be a thief". Thousands of young adults today are totally unprepared to make their own way in life, but rather expect to hold their hand out and be waited upon. "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (II Thessalonians 3:10). This is a principle that our children need to understand.

  1. Training must begin in the home while the children are small. Train them by letting them help you, even if it means the job takes twice as long or the job is not up to regular standard.
  2. Make work fun, make it rewarding, have special treats to gain at the end of the task at hand.
  3. Do not let the child shirk responsibility to escape work, teach them that they should stick it out till the end, teach them this is how to gain satisfaction for a job well done.
  4. If you put effort in early, you will be proud of them in the future and they will be thankful.
  5. Praise, love and understanding

Children are born into this world with no rights except for the command from God, "Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right" (Ephesians 6: 1). Children do have some rights though:

  1. They have the right to a home.
  2. They have the right to an education.
  3. They have the right to be loved.
  4. They have the right to be praised.
  5. They have the right to our time.
  6. They have the right to be listened to.
  7. They have the right to learn of God.

We must love our children enough to always seek the best for them. I have heard the statement that children are more precious than gold, and there is no doubt, they can be a sweet fragrance to the parents. I don't know where I would be without my children, and I only pray that I can love them enough to teach them God's way. Children are described in the Bible as a gracious gift from God (Psalm 127: 3); as a heritage and reward from God; as the crown and glory of old men.

Summary

The home of the Christian family is to be the divine school in which the father is to be the teacher, under Christ. This is a hard topic to confine to a single talk, as there are so many angles to be addressed. We want to teach our children the value of the soul, of their soul, to encourage them to Holy thoughts so they too can get to heaven. As parents we must redeem the time while there is today.

God's truth must govern the heart of the Christian parents, their dedication to God must not be superficial but heart felt and in full devotion, so that their children may want to follow the example.

Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12: 1-2).

The word of God must be the foundation on which the home is run, with God's truth reigning as supreme. Parents, above all things, our responsibility is to love our children enough to encourage their relationship with God.

Children are a God given blessing and a responsibility to the parents, let us not neglect such a great responsibility, nor rob our children of the best way, God's way. It's in our hands as Joshua stated, "but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD".

A CHILD LIVES AND LEARNS

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive.
If a child lives with pity, he learns to be sorry for himself.
If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative.
If a child lives with recognition, he learns what justice is.
If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love.
If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself.
If a child lives with friendliness, he learns that the world is a nice place to live.
If a child lives with the spiritual, he learns to have faith in God.

Author unknown to me.

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