I don’t know that our culture is different from any other, but, undoubtedly, there is a major break-down in family relationships. Our nation has one of the highest divorce rates of any nation in the world. Unfortunately, we have many orphans with parents. This is due to rampant parental neglect. Rebellion on the part of children seems to be more common. Misbehavior, disrespect, and apathy about God, education, and career goals seem to be more predominant than in previous generations. There are many contributing factors to this social ill, but the answers cannot be found in government funding or studies. However, God’s word addresses the matter of parental responsibility.
First, God says that parents are to PROVIDE FOR THEIR CHILDREN. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8, NASV). Of course, this includes those things that are needful for sustaining their life and spirit, but it involves more. Well-rounded training would include their intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual development (cf. Lk. 2:52). Proper reading and viewing material should be made available. Adequate nourishment and sleep as well as their emotional stability are a part of their physical needs. A proper environment for the development of a child’s self-reliance, respect, and courtesy should be provided. Of supreme importance is that of providing nourishment for their faith and knowledge of God’s word.
Second, parents should SET PROPER EXAMPLES FOR THEIR CHILDREN TO FOLLOW. Aaron was a great man, but he made a tragic error after the Israelites were rescued from Egyptian bondage. While his brother, Moses, was on Mt. Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, Aaron assisted the people in building a golden calf and worshipping it as a god (Ex. 32). In later years, his sons, Nadab and Abihu, manifested that same lack of reverence for God when they used unauthorized fire in their fire pans (Lev. 10). King David committed grievous sin when he had an affair with Bathsheba and had her husband, Uriah, killed on the battlefield to cover up his adultery (2 Sam. 11). His son, Absalom, followed in the murderous and adulterous path his father had left behind (2 Sam. 13:30; 16:22). Parents, if you don’t want your children to be guilty of profanity, vulgarity, or dishonesty, don’t engage in such yourself. One of the greatest compliments God paid Abraham reflected His confidence that Abraham would lead his children properly (Gen. 18:19). There is no greater heritage that parents can leave their children than that of “walking in the truth” of God’s word (2 Jn. 4).
Third, the PROPER EXERCISE OF DISCIPLINE is one of the great responsibilities God has placed on the shoulders of parents. ‘Train up a child in the way he should go…” (Prov. 22:6). There are two ways in which a child can go – the way in which he would go, headlong to ruin; and the way in which he should go, the pathway to heaven. The direction a child goes in life is greatly dependent on the training he receives. The earlier the training he receives, the easier the work, and the more encouraging the results. Present neglect leads to later risk and perplexity. Our character largely takes the form of that mold into which our early years were cast. Training is not accomplished by merely telling. A good example, wise instruction, and corrective discipline is a part of the training that should be provided.
Fourth, parents should LOVE THEIR CHILDREN. Paul admonished older women to train younger women “to love their children” (Titus 2:4). One would think that such love is only natural when people bring another life into the world. It is, but it is often the case that parents don’t manifest proper love to their children. Children are often abused, neglected, or viewed as a nuisance. A good source for discovering the kind of love parents should manifest toward their children is 1 Corinthians, chapter 13.
The physical capability of bearing offspring does not make one a good parent. There is much more to being a successful parent than just bringing another person into the world. Perhaps the above suggestions will assist in making us better parents.