Encouragement for Parents of Young Children
The First Ten Years of Your Child: Psychiatrists say that a person’s value system is locked in when he is around ten years of age. How precious, how critical, are those first ten years! The training that parents should give to a child in the early years is far too important to let it slip. It is the very foundation of the child’s whole future. Let us therefore earnestly heed the scripture that says: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Here we are given a great task – “train up a child” – and a glorious promise – “he will not depart from it.” This gives us faith to apply ourselves to the task with a sure vision of our children’s destiny.
Impressions from a godly mother begin to impart grace to an infant. Samuel was born in answer to prayer. His mother had “prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore” for a son whom she would “give unto the Lord all the days of his life.” Samuel’s parents raised him for the Lord such that
even as a child Samuel was able to minister before the Lord. “Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod ” (1 Samuel 2:18).
Timothy had a godly mother, and a godly grandmother. The Scripture says that the sincere faith that was in Timothy dwelt first in his grandmother and in his mother (2 Tim 1:5). Here we see three generations of faith, the third producing a man who served God with tears (2 Tim 1:4), of whom Paul writes: “from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation” (2 Tim 3:15, New American Standard). Timothy knew the sacred writings from childhood. He grew up to be a man of God’s Word and a co-worker of Paul.
Above all, let us learn from the example of Jesus as a child and as a teenager. It is written of Him: “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:40). Let us teach our children to pray and grow strong in the spirit as
the child Jesus did. Let us give our children God’s Word so that they will be filled with wisdom as the child Jesus was. Then God’s grace will rest upon our children as it did upon the child Jesus.
By the time He was twelve years of age, Jesus had gained such knowledge of the scriptures that He was able to sit with teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. All who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers (Luke 2:46-47). At this very young age of twelve, Jesus knew, “that it was necessary (as a duty) for Me to be in My Father’s house and [occupied] about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49, The Amplified Bible). Even with such knowledge, Jesus remained “(habitually) obedient” to Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:51). Let us keep before our children the example of Jesus as a child and as a young boy. Let us show them the glory of learning God’s Word, and of habitually obeying their parents.
Many parents allow their children to spend time exposed to worldly television programs and videos, bad literature, and music. Before they are teenagers, the children have drunk deeply from the spirit of the world. Now they are teenagers. They continue to drink from the spirit of the world through friends. The parents begin to worry. Sin has taken root and soon will bear fruit. It hurts, and the parents grieve. Even at this late stage we must believe God and cry out to Him. It may be difficult with older children, but let us work earnestly with the younger ones. Let us remember the example of Samuel and Timothy. There is hope in God. Mothers, work with your sons and daughters, and draw their hearts to God’s Word from childhood days. Don’t wait until they are teenagers. It is much easier to bend a tender plant than a grown tree. “Train up a child,” we are told (Prov. 22:6).
What is the responsibility of the fathers? Eli was judge and high priest in Israel, but “his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not” (I Samuel 3:13). But of Abraham, God said “…I know him, that he will command (teach and command, the Amplified Bible) his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord” (Gen. 18:19). It is a father’s ministry to teach and command his children in the ways of the Lord. How shall a father teach and command? The Scripture says: “Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger – do not exasperate them to resentment – but rear them (tenderly) in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4, The Amplified Bible). Fathers often are likely to get angry and provoke the children to anger. Paul knew this, and so he gives counsel. Let us take heed.
Again we read: “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” (Deut. 6:7, New King James Version). God’s word thus becomes the center of life in the home. The father and the mother keep God’s Word in their hearts, and it overflows in loving words to children in ordinary conversations. The pressures of daily life often make this difficult. We therefore need to be diligent, because we are told to “teach them diligently to your children.” We may do this at the dinner table. We may do this when we travel. We have opportunity to do this especially during family devotions. Of the virtuous wife it is written: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness” (Prov. 31:26, New King James Version). What a glorious ministry for a mother! When we love our children, we will discover new ways of communicating with them in daily life. It is fellowship. It is pure joy to see your child receiving
God’s Word trustingly from your lips.
Leading Children to a Personal Relationship With Christ: Let us emphasize an important point: Begin when the child is a child. The Lord Jesus Christ is calling the children to come to Him (Matt. 19:14). How early may we begin? “But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts” (Psa. 22:9). We may learn from this verse that as the mother nurses the child, she may also give him or her the pure milk of God’s Word in songs and stories and memory verses. As you pray for and with the child, the Lord will give you wisdom to minister the Word and the Spirit to the child. The mother’s role is prominent in the beginning, and the father joins in due time.
A mother or father who is walking in the Spirit will be able to impart the Spirit, and not only the letter of the Word to the child’s heart. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life,” said Jesus (John 6:63). We are planting and watering the seed. God will give the
growth. We must abide in faith for the future of the child even when the results don’t seem encouraging. Such faith on our part pleases God. “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy
children” (Isaiah 54:13).
The children receive gladly and trustingly from Mom and Dad. The word of God will become a fountain of life in due time, and will keep them from drinking from the spirit of the world in their teenage years. God’s Word will be fulfilled that says, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word” (Psa. 119:9, New King James Version).
Raising Children for the Lord By Susannah Wesley: [Note: The author of the following passage was the mother of 19 children of whom eight died in infancy. She spent an hour with
every child once a week, instructing him or her in God’s Word. She was the mother of John Wesley who brought revival to England in the 18th century, and of Charles Wesley the hymn
writer. The following is a condensed paraphrase of a letter written by her in 1732.]
“First of all, it must be remembered that no mother can bring up her children for the Lord who does not renounce the world completely in her own life to start with. Secondly, she must be willing to devote her entire life to the work of saving the souls of her children, and must be
convinced that such a life is a life well spent.
When children are about one year old, they must be taught to fear the rod and cry only softly. Thus they can escape an abundance of correction that they would otherwise have to learn later on. That awful noise of children screaming in the house must never be heard in a house. Even in
their talking and their playing, children must not be permitted to be loud. Thus there can be peace in the house. At the meal table, children must not be allowed to choose whatever food they like. They must be taught to eat whatever is set before them. They must also be taught that they can get nothing that they cry for. They must ask quietly for whatever they want and must be taught to speak respectfully to their parents. In order to form the minds of children aright, the first thing that must be done is the conquering of their will and thus bringing them to an obedient attitude of mind. If the will is not subdued at an early age, they will become stubborn and obstinate and it will be very difficult to correct them later on. A child must not only be corrected, he must be conquered. Only thus can it be preserved until the time comes when it chooses Christ of its own. When the will of a child has been totally subdued, and it is brought to the place where it fears and respects its parents, then a great many problems are solved.
Some childish follies should be ignored and some others reproved only mildly. But no deliberate disobedience should ever be overlooked. It must be punished – the degree and type of punishment being dependent on the circumstances of the case. Cowardice and the fear of punishment often lead children to tell lies in order to escape punishment. To prevent this, it must be made clear to them that if anyone confesses his fault and is sorry for what he has done, he will not be punished. No child in any case should be rebuked or punished twice for the same fault; and if he changes his ways, he should never ever be reminded of his past failures. Every significant act of obedience that is the result of a child having denied himself in same way should be commended and praised. Where a child makes a mistake, when it intended to do what was right, it should not be punished, but only lovingly taught the right way to do it in the future.
Children must be taught to respect God, to be still during times of prayer, and to pray by themselves every day. They must also be taught to respect the property of others and never to take even a small pin or coin that does not belong to them.
We must never forget that true spirituality is nothing other than denying one’s own will and doing the will of God. Since the one great hindrance to our eternal happiness is our self-will, any small indulgence of it cannot be ignored, and every small denial of it will be eternally profitable. Heaven and hell depend on this. And so the mother who works to subdue self-will in her child works together with God to save a soul for eternity. On the other hand, she who indulges her child’s self-will actually does the Devil’s work for him and helps toward the eternal damnation of her child’s soul.”
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