A Parent’s Responsibility to Children
In order for parents to be true blessings to their children, the parents must first establish their own relationship with the Father and imitate the Christ. The counsel Jesus gave to his disciples can be applied equally in the parent-child relationship:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
– Matthew 7:1-5
When we remember that our goal is to develop strong, mature, spiritual adults who will one day become our spiritual brothers and sisters, we can see the application of the scripture. Yes, the goal is to raise adults, not children! And we are to be good examples of right and moral behavior and godly devotion. Honesty and self-respect are among the best gifts we can give our children. That is especially true since it seems that children can spot hypocrisy in an instant! Perhaps that’s because children are not carrying around a lot of emotional baggage that clouds their discernment.
Additionally, we should respect our children’s individuality and not judge them unfairly. Each of us has our own personality that is unlike any other personality. There will be many things our children like that may be different from the things we like. They may have goals that are different from the goals we want them to have. But wise parents will deal with their children as the Father deals with the parents – with love, patience and according to knowledge:
“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”
– Psalms 103:13-14
Rather than being stern taskmasters, spiritual parents will be more like guides and instructors, teaching their children to encounter life’s dangers safely. We remember that the human mind works the same way in both adults and children. The only thing lacking is experience. Thus, just as do adults, children develop their ‘perceptive powers’ through use – trial and error.
“But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
– Hebrews 5:14
So we should allow our children an opportunity to see and experience the wisdom of our counsel – sometimes firsthand. Think of how we taught them to walk. They fell many times. But instead of chastising them for falling, we extolled the few solid steps and encouraged them to get up and try again. We can continue this loving guidance throughout their childhood so that when they approach adulthood, they will have many experiences to guide them when a parent’s counsel is not available.
Overall, the most important thing a parent can do is to sit quietly and contemplate the Father’s love for the parent and how He disciplines and trains us. And then be examples of that Fatherly love to our children. And to fathers specifically, but to all men, we remind you that your behavior will color a child’s understanding of what ‘father’ means, and it will translate into their expectations of their heavenly Father. Therefore, let ‘father’ carry a positive connotation for children so they will know how wonderfully privileged they are to have a heavenly Father.