Duties of Parents
Duties of Parents
Well-disciplined and obedient children do not “just happen” any more than a beautiful flower garden “just happens.” Both require effort. A gardener is held responsible for cultivating a garden. Parents are held responsible for teaching, disciplining, and loving their children.
When parents have the proper relationship with God and set a good example, they will find it far easier to establish and maintain authority over their children. A six-year-old who complained, “Our family is the only one that has to have goodness,” may have chafed at the discipline but he knew that obedience was not optional; it was required. And he felt secure even when disciplined because he knew his parents loved him.
In this lesson we will discuss further the areas in which parents are responsible for the training of their children. We will also consider instances of families who suffered unnecessary heartbreak because parents failed in their responsibility to their children.
To Love their Children
God gives children to a husband and wife as a sacred trust not to be treated lightly. As God loves and cares for His children, He expects parents to follow His pattern and example.
The love of parents should first be seen in their attitude toward an unborn child. They should look forward with joy to the birth of their child and, whether it be a boy or a girl, accept it as a blessing from the Lord.
Psalm 127:3. Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a real blessing.
Babies need love if they are to grow and develop properly, and parents give them a good start in life by cuddling them, playing with them, and caring for them. Parents who love their children will gladly accept the responsibility of caring for them. They must provide food, clothing, shelter, social training, education, and spiritual leadership for their children. It is not uncommon for parents to sacrifice their own comfort and desires in order to meet the needs of their children. Love helps parents develop patience and understanding for their children and to greatly appreciate the love and
patience of the Heavenly Father. You find in the Bible,
Ephesians 5:1-2. Since you are God’s dear children, you must try to be like him. Your life must be controlled by love.
When parents are thoughtless and show more love for one child than another, this leads to jealousy and other problems. In Genesis 37 we find that Joseph’s brothers wanted to get rid of him because their father treated him better than he did the rest of his children. A new baby in a home should be a delight to everyone. And wise parents will make every effort to let their other children know that they are not loved any less simply because they have a new brother or sister.
To Provide for their Physical Needs
Some parents have the custom of sending their children to live with their grandparents or other relatives. But providing a good home for their children is the responsibility of the parents, and with God’s help parents can usually find a way to do this. The house may be humble, but it can be clean, pleasant, and filled with love. Although, in some instances, relatives may be better able to provide for the material needs of a child, such can never take the place of the love and teaching which Christian parents can provide.
It is sometimes necessary for children to go away from home to attend boarding school, but it is better that they not be separated from their parents for long periods of time. Children need their parents and should be at home with them to enjoy their love and care.
Clothing and Food
Good parents try to clothe their children comfortably and see that they are well fed. The mother will try to keep them neat, clean, and comfortable.
Preparing the right kind of food for her children is an important part of a mother’s work. They need milk, fresh fruit, vegetables, and such nourishing foods as beans, meat, fish, and eggs. An abundance of starchy food without fresh fruit and vegetables is not best for their health. Nevertheless, God’s provision for the home should be the guide for the mother, as she prepares the greatest balance for her family.
To Educate their Children
It is the responsibility of parents to provide the proper training and education for their children so that they will one day be able to earn a living for themselves. It has become increasingly difficult for those who are untrained and have little education to obtain good jobs.
Although schools and churches contribute a great deal to the training of children, nothing is more important than the training children receive from their parents in the home. This teaching and training begins when a child is born, and by the age of six most children have already formed habits
that will affect their entire life.
Proverbs 22:6. Teach a child how he should live, and he will remember it all his life.
Parents are responsible for teaching their children to take care of their bodies. Children can learn at an early age the importance of forming good habits: to be neat and clean, to bathe frequently, to wash their hands before meals, comb their hair, brush their teeth, and keep their clothes clean. In all of these things, of course, parents teach by example, as well as by what they say.
An essential part of any teaching is correction, and this cannot be left out of training for life and for eternity. All children disobey their parents at times, and must be corrected. Sometimes a parent has to punish a child so that he will realize the seriousness of his wrongdoing. Children, who learn to respect and obey their parents, will find it much easier to respect and obey the laws of their country and the commandments of God.
Proverbs 29:15. Correction and discipline are good for children. If a child has his own way, he will make his mother ashamed of him.
A child must be corrected in a spirit of love, never in a spirit of anger. He needs to know why he is being punished, and that he must learn to obey. But there are correct ways to discipline, and a parent must exercise caution so as not to inflict injury upon a child.
A good practice Christian parents often follow is to pray with their children after they have punished them, and then assure them that they forgive them and still love them. If a child feels he is rejected because he has disobeyed, he may suffer emotionally. But if he can be made to understand
that his parents correct him because they love him not because they don’t—it can be a helpful, growing experience for the child.
Proverbs 13:24. If you don’t punish your son, you don’t love him. If you do love him you will correct him.
It will also help a child to know that God Himself corrects His children:
Proverbs 3:12. The Lord corrects those he loves, as a father corrects a son of whom he is proud.
Parents who allow children to grow up without teaching them obedience and respect for authority are, in effect, encouraging rebellion. Children from such homes rebel against all authority, including God’s, and such rebellion may lead to crime, imprisonment, and even death.
We read in the Old Testament of Eli and David, men of God who suffered shame, disgrace, and tragedy in their families because they did not train and discipline their sons. So it is not only required that parents must live godly lives; they must also teach their children to obey God.
Eli loved God but his sons were evil and brought disgrace on God’s house. In the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel, we read what God said about Eli’s failure to correct his sons:
I Samuel 3:13. I have already told him [Eli] that I am going to punish his family forever because his sons have spoken evil things against me. Eli knew they were doing this, but he did not stop them.
King David’s son, Adonijah, tried to take the kingdom away from his father. He wanted to have his own way and this later led him to a tragic death. David was greatly to blame for not having corrected his son when he was growing up. We read about this in the book of 1 Kings.
1 Kings 1:6 David had never reprimanded him [Adonijah] about anything, and he was ambitious to be king.
To Provide for their Spiritual Needs
Dedication of Children
Parents have a solemn responsibility of molding and guiding the lives of children God entrusts them. When they take a child to God’s house to be dedicated to Him, parents acknowledge this responsibility and enter into a special covenant or agreement with God. The pastor prays for the child, dedicating it to God’s care and protection throughout life. The parents promise to train the child in God’s ways so that, when the time comes, it will be natural for the child to turn from the wrong to the right and accept Jesus as his Savior.
God answered Hannah’s prayer for a son, and Samuel was still just a child when his parents took him to the priest in the house of the Lord. Hannah’s words to Eli, the priest, were praise and an example to parents today, especially mothers.
1 Samuel 1:28. I am dedicating him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he will belong to the Lord.
Jesus’ earthly parents dedicated Him to God also.
Luke 2:22. They took the child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
Training in God’s Word
When parents teach their children the way to heaven, they are getting them ready for a wonderful life that will never end. As, at a very early age, children can learn what pleases or displeases their parents, they can learn what pleases and displeases God. The words of Christ found in Matthew cause us to know that a child can believe in Christ: Matthew 18:6. If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would
be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea.
Families need to attend church together. If the way parents live contradicts their teaching the latter will have little effect. Parents who send their children to church by themselves, or do not insist that their children accompany them, are saying, in effect, that church attendance is not too important.
Jesus’ parents took Him to the house of God when He was very small, and they continued to take Him as He grew older. Samuel’s parents went regularly to God’s house. Joshua gave us that wonderful motto which should be the watchword for every believer’s home: Joshua 24:15. As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. Can anything please God more than entire families serving Him?
To Protect the Home
Although Satan would like to destroy every Christian home, he is powerless to do so when people run to the available protection of God. Unfortunately, the greatest aid in protecting the home from Satan’s attacks is the one most often neglected: family worship.
Oftentimes homes, which have been torn asunder, were homes where parents did many of the right things. They provided for the physical needs of their children; they educated them; they took them to church. But when parents fail to assume the leadership of the religious education of their children, their home is headed for disaster.
Besides walls of wood, mud, or brick to protect themselves from the natural dangers, a family needs love, faithfulness, forgiveness, and prayer to take them through the difficult times. And these needs are best met in family worship. A husband and wife need to fortify themselves against temptation and sin, as well as providing protection for their children. We have dealt at length with these subjects in previous lessons, particularly in Duties of a Husband, Duties of a Wife, and Duties of Children. You may wish to review each one.
It takes time, effort, and planning to maintain family worship, but parents who do find it well worth any sacrifice. Couples have resolved serious problems, which threatened their marriage, as they prayed and sought God together. Many are the testimonies of young people who rebelled
against God for a time, but was reconciled to Him later, because they could never get away from the influence of the family altar and the prayers and guidance of their parents. I trust that you can now say along with Joshua: Joshua 24:15. As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.