Summary: 54th in a series from Epehesians. How to avoid exasperating my children - and others.
This week, I ran across this article. Although it is attributed to a pamphlet put out by the Houston police department, the author is actually unknown and no one can produce a copy of any such pamphlet. Nevertheless, it gives us some good food for thought this morning:
TWELVE RULES FOR RAISING DELINQUENT CHILDREN
1. Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.
2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he’s cute. It will also encourage him to pick up "cuter phrases" that will blow off the top of your head later.
3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is 21, and then let him "decide for himself."
4. Avoid the use of the word "wrong." It may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.
5. Pick up everything he leaves lying around--books, shoes, clothes. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility on others.
6. Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but don’t worry about his mind feasting on garbage.
7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they will not be too shocked when the home is broken up later.
8. Give the child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his. Why should he have things as tough as you did?
9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified. Denial may lead to harmful frustration.
10. Take his part against neighbors, teachers, policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child.
11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize to yourself by saying, "I never could do anything with him!"
12. Prepare yourself for a life of grief. You’ll surely have it.
I don’t know if the person who wrote that was a believer, but the points that are made certainly fit in with the principles we find in today’s passage.
Last week, we examined Paul’s commands for children to obey and honor their parents. This morning, we’ll look at the other side of the coin. Let’s read our passage out loud together:
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 (NIV)
Before we go any further this morning, let me offer you a few words of encouragement. My purpose this morning is not to make those of us who are parents feel guilty. I think most of us already carry around enough guilt because we’ve all fallen short at times as parents. As Dana shared last week in our “Connections” class, there really aren’t any examples of successful fathers in the entire Bible.
And even if we do a pretty good job as parents, there is no guarantee that our kids will not go astray. To prove that, all we have to do is to go back to the very first parents in the Bible – Adam and Eve. Although they were sinful just like us, they had a lot of advantages as parents that none of us ever had. They certainly didn’t have a culture that was fighting against them – they were the culture. And, in spite of their sin, they still knew God and had experienced intimate fellowship with Him. There is every reason to believe that they had raised their children to follow and to honor God. And yet their firstborn became a murderer. But the Bible makes it clear, that was not his parents’ fault. He did it because of his own evil heart.
Ultimately, no matter how well of a job we do as parents, our children bear the ultimate responsibility for their own actions. So there is no guarantee that, even if we don’t exasperate them and even if we bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord, they will live the kind of lives before God that we hope and pray for. On the other hand there are some principles that we can apply that will provide a much higher likelihood that our children will become Christ-followers who will live a life that is pleasing to Him, and bring joy to us.
One of the difficulties we face in applying these principles is that many of us never had godly fathers who were able to apply these principles effectively in their own lives because in turn, they never had fathers who understood how to apply them either. Unfortunately, in our culture, we have many generations who have grown up without the kind of godly roles models that Paul envisions in his letter. But we have a responsibility as part of the body of Christ, to do our part to end that downward spiral and help raise up a generation of fathers who can become the kind of role models that will begin to provide a legacy of godly fathering that can be passed on from generation to generation. So it’s up to all of us to understand these principles and do what we can to help the parents in our body to apply these principles in their families.