DO YOU consider your children to be an inheritance of great value? (Psalm 127:3) Or do you view the rearing of them as a financial burden with no guarantee of success? Rather than bringing monetary profit, raising children costs money until they can sustain themselves. Just as managing an inherited fortune requires good planning, so does successful parenting.
Caring parents want to give their children a good start in life. Although bad and very sad things may happen in this world, parents can do much to protect their offspring. Consider the case of Werner and Eva, mentioned in the preceding article.*
When Parents Really Care
Werner reports that instead of letting things take their course, his parents showed genuine interest in what was going on in school. "I appreciated very much the practical suggestions they gave me, and I felt that they cared for me and were supporting me. As parents, they were quite firm, but I knew that they were my real friends." And when Eva became so upset over her schoolwork that she was depressed and had problems sleeping, her parents, Francisco and Inez, also spent considerable time talking with her and helping her to recover mental and spiritual balance.
How did Francisco and Inez seek to protect their children and prepare them for adult life? Well, from the time the children were infants, these loving parents always involved them in their daily activities. Instead of just socializing with their adult friends, Inez and Francisco had the children with them wherever they went. As loving parents, they also gave their son and daughter proper guidance. Says Inez: "We taught them to care for the home, to be economical, and to care for their own clothes. And we helped each one of them to choose a profession and to reconcile their responsibilities with spiritual interests."
How vital it is to get to know your children and provide parental guidance! Let us examine three areas in which you might do this: (1) Help your children to choose an appropriate type of secular work; (2) prepare them to cope with emotional stress in school and in the workplace; (3) show them how to satisfy their spiritual needs.
Help Them Choose Suitable Work
Since a person's secular work not only affects his financial situation but also takes much of his time, good parenting includes considering each child's interests and abilities. Since no conscientious individual wants to be a burden to others, parents should think seriously about how their child can be prepared to sustain himself and a family. Would your son or daughter need to learn a trade in order to make a decent living? As a truly caring parent, make consistent efforts to help your child develop such qualities as a desire to work industriously, willingness to learn, and the ability to get along well with others.
Consider Nicole. She says: "My parents had me work with them in their cleaning business. They suggested that I give a percentage of my earnings toward our household expenses and keep what was left for my own spending or savings. This gave me a heightened sense of responsibility that proved very useful later in life."
God's Word, the Bible, does not specify what type of secular work a person should choose. But it does provide sound guidelines. For instance, the apostle Paul said: "If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat." Writing to Christians in Thessalonica, he also said: "We hear certain ones are walking disorderly among you, not working at all but meddling with what does not concern them. To such persons we give the order and exhortation in the Lord Jesus Christ that by working with quietness they should eat food they themselves earn."—2 Thessalonians 3:10-12.
Yet, getting a job and making money is not all there is to life. Eventually, those who are too ambitious are likely to become discontented and may discover that they are "striving after wind." (Ecclesiastes 1:14) Rather than urging their children to pursue recognition and prosperity, parents do well to help them see the wisdom of the apostle John's divinely inspired words: "Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one's means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever."—1 John 2:15-17.
How Can You Satisfy Their Emotional Needs?
As a parent, why not be like a trainer of athletes? He does not focus only on developing in the athletes in his care the physical capacity to run faster or to jump farther. Likely, he also endeavors to help them to overcome any negative attitude, thus reinforcing their emotional strength. In your case, how can you encourage, build up, and motivate your children?
Consider Rogério, a 13-year-old youth. Besides internal turmoil as a result of bodily changes, he experienced emotional stress because of parental disunity and lack of attention. What can be done for young people like him? Though it is impossible to shelter your children from all anxieties and bad influences, never give up your role as a parent. Without being overprotective, discipline your offspring with understanding, always remembering that each child is unique. By showing kindness and love, you can do much to make a young person feel secure. This will also prevent him from growing up lacking confidence and self-respect.
Regardless of how successful your own parents were in satisfying your emotional needs, three things can assist you to succeed as a truly helpful parent: (1) Avoid being so absorbed in your own difficulties that you ignore the seemingly small problems of your children; (2) endeavor to have pleasant and meaningful daily communication with them; (3) promote a positive attitude regarding how to solve problems and deal with people.
Looking back on her years as a teenager, Birgit says: "I had to learn that you cannot change people to be what you want them to be. My mother reasoned with me that if I saw something in others that I did not like, what I could do was avoid being like them. She also said that the best time to change my own ways would be while I was still young."
Yet, your children need more than a job and emotional stability. Ask yourself, 'Do I view parenting as a God-given responsibility?' If you do, you will want to attend to the spiritual needs of your children.
Ways to Meet Their Spiritual Needs
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ said: "Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them." (Matthew 5:3) What is involved in satisfying spiritual needs? Children benefit greatly when parents set a fine example in showing faith in Jehovah God. The apostle Paul wrote: "Without faith it is impossible to please [God] well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him." (Hebrews 11:6) For faith to have real meaning, however, prayer is needed. (Romans 12:12) If you acknowledge your own spiritual need, you will seek divine guidance, as did the father of the child who became Israel's noted Judge Samson. (Judges 13:8) You will not only pray but also go to God's inspired Word, the Bible, for help.—2 Timothy 3:16, 17.#
Despite all the hard work involved in providing sound guidance, emotional support, and spiritual help, parenting can be rewarding. A father of two in Brazil comments: "I cannot even imagine not having my children. There is so much good that we can share with them." In explaining why the children are doing well, the mother adds: "We are always together, and we try to make things festive and happy. And, most important, we always pray for the children."
Priscilla recalls the love and patience her parents displayed toward her whenever there was a problem. "They were my real friends and helped me in everything," she says. "As a child, I truly felt that I was being treated as 'an inheritance from Jehovah.'" (Psalm 127:3) Like many other parents, why not schedule time with your children so that you can read the Bible and Christian publications together? Considering Bible accounts and principles in a positive atmosphere can help your children to be confident and to have a real hope for the future.
When All Children Will Be Secure
Although the future looks gloomy for many children today, God's Word guarantees that the earth will soon be a secure home for mankind. Imagine the time in God's promised new world when parents will not have to worry about the safety of their children! (2 Peter 3:13) Try to envision the grand fulfillment of this prophecy: "The wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them." (Isaiah 11:6) Even today, the spiritual security described in these words has a figurative fulfillment among those who serve Jehovah. In their midst, you will feel God's loving care. If you manifest love for God, you can be assured that he understands your feelings as a parent and will help you to cope with the anxieties and trials that may come your way. Study his Word and place your hope in his Kingdom.
Help your children on the way to eternal life by setting a fine example. If you take refuge in Jehovah God, your future and that of your children can exceed all your expectations. You can have the same confidence as did the psalmist who sang: "Take exquisite delight in Jehovah, and he will give you the requests of your heart."—Psalm 37:4.