So Jesus called the children over to him and said, "Let the children come to me! Don't try to stop them. People who are like these children belong to God's kingdom."
-- Luke 18:16
Maybe you read the newspaper editorial from a few years back. It wasn't about politics, the economy, terrorism or even a Hollywood celebrity. Instead, the author expressed his deep concern about our nation's children. He wrote that this generation lacked good manners and showed no respect for their elders. Moreover, these misguided young people reflected negative societal influences, violence and danger.
"What will become of our children?" was the distraught editor's rhetorical (but sincere) question. His opinion was that without a drastic change in direction, their future would be quite bleak.
Maybe a little background here will put things into perspective. Yes, this editorial appeared in a newspaper a few years ago. But it was more than just a few. Many more.
How about 170 years ago!
It all goes to show that some issues are timeless. And when it comes to showing concern about raising children right, that's a very good thing. "Children," as the saying goes, "are the future." And the Bible tells us that respectful, obedient children don't just happen by accident. Godly parenting involves intentional actions and instruction. Consider what the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy says to parents about emphasizing God's ways to their kids:
"Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
Children not only look for boundaries of acceptable behavior, they crave direction and seek love and approval. It's when they don't get enough of this from their parents that they can act out, perform poorly at school and gravitate toward the wrong crowd and bad influences.
So what's a parent (brand new or experienced) to do? First, understand that parenting is privilege rather than a burden. And second, remember that God is our heavenly parent. That means that human parents have the great responsibility of playing His role in the child-rearing process. Therefore, follow God's example for raising us--His followers:
Give your children unconditional love, apply consistent discipline and give them spiritual direction. And don't forget to lead through your own positive attitude and outlook on life.
No one said that parenting is easy. But in a society that's quickly turning its back on God, it's arguably the most important job in the world...and one with literal world-changing consequences.