“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is His reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth” – Psalm 127:3-4.
Life indeed is beautiful and whenever we pause to consider it, we see the beauty in God’s design of the stages of life. It is a mystery how life forms in the womb of a woman, and with the best of scientific explanations, we see it is nothing else but the amazing design of a great creator. This great creator of the universe and giver of life in His great wisdom, designed the process of conception all the way to childbirth, and made that a small baby that is delivered grows up to childhood, then adolescence and all the way through teenage, youth and adulthood. It is the beauty of life that these stages of life are undergone to mould the personality we become at adulthood. Can you imagine how the world would have been if people were born as adults? Besides the anatomical challenges that may pose at birth, we would have a situation where such adults are maladjusted for life in the real world. It is therefore a great importance for the rudiments of each stage of life to be appreciated for a wholistic development of the individual. The very primary stage of life that determines success in a person’s life is childhood and hence the need to ensure that the benefits of this stage of life are maximized.
Children are precious and are a great blessing to their families and the society at large. It is a joy for parents to watch their babies grow into toddlers and progress out of that stage of muttering words in an unknown language to making more co-ordinated words, and from crawling to standing, taking the first unsteady steps and then to running around the house. This indeed brings gladness to the heart of the parent. This should elicit gratitude in our hearts to God for giving us this joy of parenthood. Some married couples who do not have children often go to any length and could do anything to conceive and give birth to children. To such couples, we pray that they also will have the joy of carrying their babies. Children are a gift from God to the parents and the world. Every child comes into the world to solve a problem and has a divinely ordained purpose to fulfill. Even more is the fact that they are gifts to the parents, the scriptures in Psalm 127:3-4 tells us children are a heritage from the Lord. They belong to God and He has entrusted them to us to take care of and nurture to maturity. Hence, we must see that beyond our wishes for our children, there is a responsibility we owe to God who has given them to us.
We owe our children the responsibility to guide them on the path of their destiny fulfillment. In our care are these raw jewels of inestimable value whose present and future beauty and refinement depends on us. In our care is the primary stage of life development of our children. Childhood is the formative stage of an individual’s life. It is the time where indelible imprints are made on the mind and psychology of an individual. A child’s mind is like a fresh book which writings are to be made, and what is written will stay even to the end of life. At this early stage, a child learns to know actions but cannot distinguish good actions from bad ones. Unlike the adult who may learn by reading or by being taught, the child learns by observation. He watches the parent and curiously wants to act like they do. Herein lies the risk of conveying the wrong information to our children, who are looking at our lives to learn. In the innocence of childhood, the child seeks to repeat the exact actions of people around him or her, who could be their parents, aunts and uncles, teachers and other children. Hence parents and the entire society owe children a duty of writing the right information on their young minds by doing the right thing at all times. A child who grows up watching his parents fighting will grow to be a bully at school, and a wife or husband beater at adulthood. This is indeed a duty which we must not fail at for the sake of God, the child, ourselves and the society.
Since children can pick up ill behaviours from the lives of other people they are exposed to and can be affected by the environment they grow in, it is the duty of parents to watch out for these ill maners and correct them as soon as it is observed. It is unfortunate that some parents believe the child will outgrow these manners and so they fail to correct their children at the right time. What these parents do not realize is that these ill manners become habits that the child grows with and forms their character at the latter stages of life development. There is a saying that crayfish can only be straightened out when it is young and fresh, and would break if anyone tried to straighten it when it becomes old and dry. This is the reason God admonishes us to train up our child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). When your child starts telling lies, correct him or her immediately so they will know it is wrong. Do not accomodate that ill behaviour hoping they will know better for themselves in future. I know it is hard for parents to watch their children cry, but firm correction and discipline is required to put the child back in the right path when they have deviated. It is regrettable that discipline is frowned at today and parents do not administer punishments to their erring children, and they have pressurized the schools to adopt this faulty system of no corporal punishments. We must remember that God admonishes us not to spare the rod of correction and spoil our children. Proverbs 13:24 lets us know that he who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly. A loving but firm rebuke and chastisement is necessary for proper upbringing of children.
We must safeguard our heritage the Lord has given us and do all we can to provide their needs. We must endeavour to provide our children with food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and formal education. We should be available to spend leisure times with our children and interact with them. If you leave the care of your children to the entire oversight of househelps and neighbours, you do them a great disservice and you are failing in your responsibilty to God. We must guard our children from the vices that are so prevalent in our societies in this generation. We cannot afford to allow our children sit in front of the television at home and watch all manner of programs and movies or roam the vast internet space with no control. We live in a day where radio and television broadcast codes of practice are not followed by many media outfits. The sexually explicit soap operas, the violent crime movies, and even the pervasive comedies and cartoons will not help our children to develop the right morals. Parental control is greatly needed to select what our children consume into their minds off the broadcast outfits. Today’s music and dances will have corrupting influence on our children and we must do well to select the parties our children attend. It will be best to dress our young kings and queens the way we want them to dress in future. If we dress them in the shabby and skimpy body exposing fashion of today, they will grow up dressing that way and may suffer the consequence of sexual harassment occasioned by indecent dressing. It is indeed a great duty to bring up children the proper way, but there is great reward we will have in future if we do not fail in our duty.
Although the major responsibility of child upbringing rest on parents, the society at large must contribute significantly to the well being and proper development of children. The teachers have a big responsibility to nurture and instill the right morals in our children. It is the duty of everyone to model a virtuous lifestyle both in actions and words for our children to follow. Let us be there to correct our children when we see them going the wrong way. Let us realize that if the children we did not help to nurture turn out to be criminals and gangsters tomorrow, the impact will not only be felt by their parents but by all members of society. Our governments have a duty to make and enforce laws to protect our children from unscrupulous people who are out to prey on children. Child molesters sexually(rapists, pedophiles) and physically, kidnappers and all other abusers of children must face heavy penalties for their criminal acts against children. Let us remember the vulnerable children in poor communities whose parents cannot afford their basic needs. Let us not forget the motherless babies and street children who do not know who their parents are, they need all the help and support we can give. Let us establish more motherless babies homes and orphanages to cater for these vulnerable children. Let us give our donations and support the motherless babies homes and orphanages. Our society stands to gain immensely when our children grow up to be responsible and reputable citizens who contribute positively to develop the society.
Finally, let us note that the greatest responsibility of parents and guardians of children, is to bring the child into a loving relationship with God. Parents must realize the fact we noted from the onset, that children belong to God and we only have the privilege of being entrusted with their care and upbringing. We must point our children to and show them the way of the LORD. Children will learn to pray when they see and hear us praying. They will develop value for the word of God as they observe how much we read the Bible and live by its tenets. Attending the children sunday school and worshipping in church service on Sundays should become the great highlight of the week for our children. We must encourage our children to pray and speak to God in the way they can. I never forget what my mother told me when I was a child. She told me to always pray to God and tell Him about my problems before telling her. If I fell sick, I learned to pray and ask God for healing before telling my mother. I have grown up with that principle and it has worked for me all these years. Let your children know they have a heavenly father that loves them more than you do. Teach them to repose confidence on and trust God always. Let them realize their heavenly father is always with them; at school when you are not there, on the playground, and everywhere they may be. The parents that brought their children to Jesus Christ as we see in Matthew 19:13-14, knew this salient fact. They knew it is only God that could keep their children safe from the evils all around. They knew Jesus Christ would save their children. Jesus Christ gladly welcomed these children and gave this charge to every parent and guardian, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). Tell your children about the sacrifice that Jesus Christ paid to save the souls of people and let them know He will gladly welcome them into His kingdom if they believe and surrender their lives to Him. Do not reason they are too young for such knowledge. There are so many people who received salvation when they were children and your children can have this testimony also. Encourage your children to participate in the service of God no matter how little their capacity may be. Do not cease to pray for your children and seek God’s help to succeed in your role as a parent to them.
We can be rest assured that if we do our part and give our best to mould our children properly, God will not fail in His part to reward our labour. There will be a next generation of God fearing men and women who will stand out for truth, diligence, commitment, loyalty and selfless service to God and man as a result of our labours today. We will in turn have our children take care of us in our old age and this indeed is the blessing of the Lord. Never forget that you have an heritage from the Lord; your children, and that if you take care of them today, they will take care of you tomorrow.