On Raising Children

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
The fact that moors, traditions and laws evolve constantly with each generation; parents keep asking themselves how to raise their children to ensure a promising future and to preserve them from the discomforts, difficulties and insufficiencies that the Holy Scriptures calls sin.
The fact that parents have the mission to transmit life, it is up to them to welcome, to protect and to educate their children. Christian parents are the first to be able to influence their children and to “vaccinate” them with the word of God against these infectious diseases that are lying, impiety, immorality, lust, etc. To vaccinate them is to sow the words of God in their hearts. Since a heart cannot be forced, one needs to spark their curiosity before being able to sow the precepts of God. One needs to begin to sow from a young age; well before they begin to attend school. With time, the divine sowing with germinate and will procure children with these healthy principles that will help them to flourish harmoniously, even when they will be obliged, as adults, to live in the middle of a perverse world.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)
Wisdom does everything the right way. Asking God for wisdom should be a rule, especially during the period of time where children ask questions all day long. It is so easy to spoil these occasions to awaken their hearts by giving priority to other tasks and not respond to their trusting questions with many, “Wait, I’m busy…!” However, a little one cannot wait… he leaves and forgets about his question. The opportunity to win his heart is then lost.
Since time and strength are limited, it is important to be busy with the noblest things. Raising children should trump our earthly occupations of the home (cooking, groceries, visiting, cars, house, etc.). Not sowing the word of God in the prime of childhood is regrettable. Sowing is not reciting to children entire chapters but simply telling them about the life of Jesus and the men of God of yesterday and today. It is useful to show them how blessed are those who love the word of God. Singing as a family touches the heart of children… Many, for example, have not forgotten this song:
Count your blessings name them one by one, count your blessings see what God has done, county your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings see what God has done.
One thing is to explain to children that everything that comes from the world (radio, television, money, honour, position) is just fleeting and vain; another thing is to be personally enthusiastic about the gospel. It is then easy to show them, by random examples, how people drown in misery and hopelessness when they despise the world of God. It is not media, but the word of God that exhorts:
You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:7)
Teaching the divine laws is not preaching and polemic but sparking the love for God and self-denial for the world and the things that are in the world.
Make them known to your sons and your grandsons. (Deuteronomy 4:9)
It is the duty of the parents and not of media (newspapers, television, internet) to depict to children the life of these men of faith that were Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, etc. and to show them the way these heroes of faith respected the divine precepts and how they were transmitted from one generation to another. This challenge concerns all parents:
For what great nation is there, that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him. Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:7-8)
For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord. (Genesis 18:19)
We cannot help children without having a trustworthy rapport with them. This rapport is knit when we are interested in all they do during games, during walks, at school and with their friends. Even kind and cute children don’t just do childish things. Parents who don’t supervise their affections and their words will alarm themselves the day where it will be too late to intervene. It is not by letting children decide how to occupy themselves, how to clothes themselves and what they want to eat that parents will gain their trust; quite on the contrary: very soon, these same children with expect “their own” pocket money and will decide on “their own” dates.
Bad company corrupts good morals. Even in Christian assemblies, there are people who have a negative influence on others. It is the parent’s job to supervise that the children that they hang out with will not stunt their development. If the goal of raising children is to point them to Christ, meltdowns, provoking and other brutality will drive them away. It is not by slapping a child (who is without defence) that parents can except to be loved more. Is not the face reserved for caresses and the opposite of the rod?
He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently. (Proverbs 13:24)
This exhortation needs to be read in light of the protective laws forbidding abusive corporal punishment that some children fall prey to. The rod however, remains the symbol of firmness. What counts is that a correction be done in a dignified way without anger and after having spoken with the child. It is important that the correction be a profitable lesson. Threatening the children without ever acting is harmful. To say, “Don’t do that or you will be punished,” and then denying one’s own words, is a common behaviour. One needs to think before announcing an exaggerated sanction. To correct a child for what he does wrong is recurrent, but to praise him for what he does right is, alternatively, profitable for salvation. When the authority is founded trust and not on threats, children will share their problems with their parents instead of with strangers.
Near fifteen years, children clearly reflect the influences received throughout their education. It does not help parents to exonerate themselves, if the result is not conclusive, by saying, “If others had children as difficult as mine…” It is more profitable to ask oneself, “How many times did I ask God for help and wisdom to undertake my role of parent and educator?” Maybe it is yet time to recognize and repair some wrongs. Playing the incontestable master creates a cold atmosphere in the home and harms the potential for good harmony. These behaviours create a wall between parents and teenagers who prefer leaving the home… sometimes forever.
You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers. (1 Thessalonians 2:10)
When parents can tell their children: “you are our witnesses”, their education will leave a memory of a warm home that gives them the desire to perpetuate themselves the sentence from Joshua:
But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)