Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Has it ever crossed your mind that this scripture seems the opposite of true in some cases? Are there no children who turn out to be a curse to their own families? Children who certainly aren’t arrows in the hands of a good God? I leave the answer to you. While we celebrate children this week, I can’t help but see that there are quite a number if people in the world today who were also cherished and celebrated as children, that people will rather forget now. Talk about innocent hearts that grew to be criminal minds, Jesus loving children that now do not care about what God thinks of their adult lives. Where did it all go wrong?
Honestly, I wish I were able to give an infallible foundation in this article for how to raise a godly and immune child in a generation that is as perverse as this one but I can say nothing beyond what you have probably read in your bible. The world is in a desperate place and your home is even more delicate now than it may be if this were 20 years ago. It would seem that many parents need a complete overhaul of techniques as children need rehabilitation but I’m hardly here to teach that. What I’m here to do is give peace where it may be lost as we look at God’s word on parenting together.
The way a child a chooses to go may say a lot about his/her upbringing but it doesn’t say all that there is to say.
A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke. – Proverbs 13:1
This may be a shocker but there are ungodly people that were raised by very godly parents. The spiritual state of a parent(s) may influence the total atmosphere of a home but it is no guarantee that a child will turn out perfect. All though it is correct to say that parents will almost always share the credit for how their children turn out, they cannot be blamed completely. Each child ultimately will carve his own path in life.
This in fact goes without saying, that there are bad people who by some chance, or maybe divine intervention, end up having some good children genetically linked to them. I’m being very careful to not imply that bad people sometimes “raise” good children because you can seldom give what you don’t have. Albeit, for some reason, an apple may fall very far from its source tree.
This means, that asides from the parents’ contribution in a child’s life there are other things that contribute to how he/she eventually turns out, a major one being the child’s own decisions.
You can almost tell in what direction you are leading your child on a long term (the values they will certainly imbibe even as adults and almost certainly teach their children) from what you make them believe, learn or unlearn in their formative years, 0-8 years old. Research has it that most adults that display psychotic behaviors not only manifested certain misdemeanors as children and got away with them, but also grew up in unstable homes.
Looking at this scripture, Proverbs 22:6 in the New International Version says,
Start children off in the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Note the word Start? It means that however way a person turns out to be, or whether there is even hope that they will one day retrace their steps, is highly contingent on HOW they started out. And no child is raised my themselves. Something or someone always has to do the starting.
You will notice that each time God wanted to use someone in the old testament, he would start out by informing the parents of his plan right from conception. It is not because he needed the parents permission to use the child he himself gave them but so that when the time does come to be used, the right foundation has already been laid in his/her heart. It’s why Samuel’s upbringing with Eli was too important to miss, it’s also why John the Baptist’s parents had to be informed. And for the one whose parents probably didn’t get a heads-up, God sent a reminder to him by saying,
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. – Jeremiah 1:5
God shows how intentional he is about Jeremiah when he tells him that he ordained him before he was born. Now we don’t need a prophet to tell us how important a child is in the hands of God but we must be discerning as parents to know what God will have us do with the children he blesses us with. Then in turn we can be intentional about…
1) What we teach them about Him
2) What we teach them or help them believe about life
…while we yet still have the power to teach them or influence them heavily. There will come a time when that won’t be the case. Albeit, however spoiled the world may be now, children can still be a blessing – that just depends on what goes on within the four walls of their homes. You may not have power over everything that goes into your child (not as long as they have some contact with the world outside your home) but you sure can watch what comes out. And this is what is more important, because it shows what is truly going on inside.
Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. – Matthew 15:11
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. – Matthew 15:18
Lastly, children nowadays seem to be very inquisitive and intelligent. They observe things and they will ask questions, many times about the abnormal things they see going on around. It is important that parents answer these questions, not just simply but also as sincerely as possible. Lies don’t protect, they deceive. Your child doesn’t need to be exposed to evil (and he/she won’t by God’s grace) before he/she can understand that the world is a dangerous place. Prepare them for the atmosphere they live in – or someone/something else will. And you may not like that! Create scenarios, tell stories if you must but prepare your children.
Are you a parent who is struggling with wayward children? Are you heartbroken over your children’s decisions? My heart goes out to you. And I will be praying for all such parents (in Christ). But I will have you know that blaming will not change much. You need to let go and let God do what only He can in their lives. They may be your children, but they are not children anymore if indeed they are already adults. However, if your child is still within the range that he/she can be trained, you can’t afford to shy away from being the firm parent or the bad guy in their story (one that will likely change for the better depending on what you do now). We must beware. A spoiled child may never outgrow being spoiled. And many unwise adults were reckless teenagers. And love is not necessary indulgent. Not always.