Children are a great blessing; it gives us joy to watch them grow. It gladdens our hearts when they are prosperous in life. Nurturing a child is a lifetime investment that yields huge rewards. The Bible says to train up a child in the way he should go and when he grows, he would not depart from it. That means when core values and discipline are inculcated into a child, he would not derail from it when he becomes an adult. He would have the correct operating system functioning in him from which proceeds the right set of actions, behaviours, choices and decisions, and attitude. It’s like making concrete, you get the right set of materials; cement, water, sand and granite in the right proportion; mix them together and pour into a mould; after a while it becomes set; taking the shape of the mould. It is the same with a child; during their formative years when you pour Godly values into them, you are nurturing them in the admonition of the Lord; you are framing them, shaping them into the individuals they would become.
Parents are charged with the responsibility of nurturing their children. God judged Eli, the priest for not rebuking his sons, who were also priests, for their wicked behaviours towards the people of the Lord. They were taking from the burnt offering that belonged to the Lord and sleeping with the women who came to the tabernacle of congregation (church). Eli was guilty because he honoured his sons more than God. In other words, he let them have their way even though what they were doing was a violation of God’s commandment. Therefore God judged him – the two sons died in one day.
These days, it is becoming unfashionable to discipline a child. In fact, in some parts of the world it is illegal for parents or guardians to discipline their children; they could be jailed for it! Granted that some of our parents overdid the discipline sometimes (I had my fair share of it growing up), however we should not totally dispense with the rod of correction.
It is also scriptural to discipline children and beat them if necessary. Scriptures says that a child that is left on his own, i.e. if he is not taught and disciplined would later become a reproach to his parents. Again, the Bible says that foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction would drive it far from him.
Parents therefore need to teach their children Godly values. When children are taught in the way of the Lord, they know what to do and what not to do. It is good to have times of studying the Bible and praying together.
Also, children learn mostly by what they see. Therefore, it is important for parents and guardians to live by example. If children see love and respect exemplified by their parents, they would learn to be respectful and loving to their siblings and other people. If however they see disrespect or wrong behaviours in their parents, they too would exhibit same. Therefore, parents should be models and good examples to their children; they should be mentors showing them the way.
When a child does something wrong or you are trying to instil a particular trait or value into him but he is not getting it, he needs to be corrected, depending on the gravity of the offence or situation and also on the age of the child. Sometimes, all you need to do is give him a stern warning not to do that thing again. At other times, what is needed is a sharp rebuke or even some strokes of cane.
For example, if a five-year old child comes home with a classmate’s property, you need to give him a stern warning not to do that again, with firm instructions to return the property. You need to explain why it is wrong to him; first it is a violation of God’s commandment. Also, people who do that consistently end up becoming criminals in life and spend their life in jail. You could confirm with school officials whether the child returned the property. The child would most likely feel ashamed when he or she returns the property and would not want to repeat the act. If however, the action becomes a trend or habit, the matter needs to be taken more seriously; stricter measures of discipline need to be taken to correct the wrong habit.
The place of prayer cannot be downplayed; parents need to pray for their children continually. After teaching and correcting them, we need to uphold them before God in the place of prayer. Some children become wayward not because they were not taught but because they made the choice to be so, that is why it is important to pray for them. Even after teaching them, imparting Godly values into them and trying to build good character in them, they have a choice to make. Prayer helps to keep them on the right path; it shields them from ungodly influence, wrong friends and peer pressure. Prayer will bring good people and friends around them and also surround them with the right influence. Even when it looks like they are going wayward or have departed from the way of truth, prayer would restore them.
Say continually that “my children are taught of the Lord and great is their peace.”