In the last article that I wrote, I have mentioned that there are wrong ideas being promoted as infallible guides for successful parenting. I would like to mention briefly one or two more of them in today’s article.
We think we know what is best for our children
There are parents who think that their desires and ambitions for their children are truly what God wants for their children. Could such a notion be true? Did not the Bible record clear evidence of determination made by parents which led their children to the best of situations in their adult life? Scriptural examples pertaining to such include Hannah’s desire for Samuel that he would serve the Lord, and David’s plan for Solomon to be the next king.
The above two biblical instances definitely show that Samuel’s mother Hannah and Solomon’s father David knew what God would want their children to be. I believe that even today, the Lord may providentially guide some parents to dedicate their children to become missionaries or pastors in their adult life. However, for God’s people in post-biblical times, this would not be the norm in guiding our children into God’s plan in their lives.
We must not insist that whatever we think is good for our children, they should follow. We should pray that God by His gracious providence would help them to recognise what He wants them to do. Children may change their minds about some things that they earlier said they would pursue. They may even fail in their attempts. We should not then become upset and put all the blame on them. No matter how disconcerting such occasions may be, we must encourage ourselves and our children to humble ourselves to seek the LORD. Advise them to pray like the psalmist – “Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:4-5).
Not all children have the same abilities, skill and habits. However, all must be trained in their hearts on how to be instruments of God’s will. Children must be continually advised and exhorted to, of their own accord, yield themselves to do God’s will and purposes. For the LORD reminds us in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Let us teach our children to trust the Lord for their future, no matter how they fare in their studies or skills. Point them to Psalm 32:8 – “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” Also, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14).
Even if your child is unable to do much for himself because of his lack of abilities or other weaknesses, you can trust the LORD to be his help and strength in his need. Listen to what the LORD saith: “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not” (Isaiah 35:3-4a). The apostle Paul also reminds us in 1 Corinthians 1:27b, “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” Our God is a great God! No one is too weak or small that He cannot use for His glory. Hence, He tells the weak to be strong as they put their trust in Him.
Parents, our greatest comfort and hope for our children is in our God, who is merciful and yet strong! He does not want us to be sad or sore afraid because our children do not seem to have what it takes, in our thinking, to be what is best for them. He wants us to be strong in the Lord. God, who is the Maker of our children (whether they are strong or weak), will see to their goings and guide their paths. Let us just teach our children to trust and obey Him always.
Like the apostle Paul, we (parents and children alike) too should employ our faith to look for His utmost in our life – “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).