“Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” Proverbs 23:22
For several decades ungodly people have been telling parents to allow their children freedom to choose their own way and not stifle them with the parent’s views on moral, ethical and social ways. The result is that we now have a generation of parents who have no basis and no knowledge of how to lead their children. The sad thing is that many Christians have bought into this lie. Reversing this trend will only come from within the church because the way back lies within the pages of our Bibles. The world, apart from Christ and God’s Word, can be described as the blind leading the blind.
Some adult victims of a wayward youth are demanding that parents be accountable for their children’s acts of violence and destruction but that misses the point and is at least one generation too late in my view.
Paul wrote of this situation nearly two thousand years ago, “In the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
No doubt all these characteristics were observable in Paul’s day but they were not universal as they have become now.
If children do not learn to respect and take note of their parent’s instruction when young they certainly won’t be inclined to do so in their teen years. If children are rebellious to parents and permitted to remain that way then they will extend that rebellion to all other authorities as they grow: schoolteachers; law enforcement; employers; government; God.
Without repentance they will end up spending many of their earthly days in prison and in hell eternally. Along the way they will make their lives and the lives of their parents and others a misery.
God’s commands, instructions and statutes relating to parenting are not given to make the life of parents and children impossible; exactly the opposite. The parents’ responsibility is to “Train up a child …” (Proverbs 22:6) not let a child find its own path.
Some years ago a young child ran from our church door along the footpath to the road. The speed limit on that road was 80kph. The child gleefully disobeyed the parents’ frantic cries to stop and kept on toward the speeding traffic. Several people set off in pursuit and that just encouraged the child in her game. This could have ended very badly but it shows the importance of training, dare I say disciplining, a child from birth.
If a child does not learn to respond to its parents instructions how will it learn to respond to other authorities and to the Lord? Children are different but observation has shown me that some children can be trained to respond to a parent’s instruction, from a distance, soon after they can walk. But the parents will have to start much earlier than that for that result. Correction is an act of love and it must be done out of love (Proverbs 3:11-12).