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How to GROW your children:

Principles of Biblical Parenting

Text: Deuteronomy 11:18-23

Dr. Alex Tang

Summary

            The Biblical principles to GROW our children so that they will love the Lord,

             to walk in all His ways and to hold fast to Him.                              

            (Grace, Relationship, Obedience, Word)

 

Deuteronomy 11: 18-23

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates,  21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

22 If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him—  23 then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you.

 

1.                  Introduction

Gangsterism in school is not something new. The various gangs and triads has been recruiting from schools especially Chinese medium schools. What are worrisome are the rising incidents of indiscipline in schools. Recently, we read of the exploits of the students in the Malay College Kuala Kangsar as well as Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Ipoh in the newspaper. We also read of a Form One student of Yu Hua Secondary School in Kajang slapped a teacher. The reason he did it was because of a wager he made with his friends. In certain schools, teachers are afraid to go to school because of the threat to their property and their lives. Why would a young person join a gang? One explained that he joined a gang for friendship and a sense of belonging; for protection and mutual care, for acceptance and for the sense of significance.

As usual there is a lot of finger pointing to the cause of rising incidence of indiscipline and gangsterism in our schools. The parents blamed the teachers and the school system. The teachers blamed the parents.

I would like to suggest that the blame lay with the parents. By the time a child enters school, he is about 7 years old. By then most of his or her character, worldview and thinking processes are almost fully formed. That’s why the Jesuits said if you give them a child for the first six years of life, they can predict how he or she will behave for the rest of their lives. I would suggest that some parents have failed to teach their children in the most important formative years of their lives. I would also suggest that grandparents are to blame for they too have failed to train their children in their formative years. Hence now we have a downward spiral of childhood indiscipline, gangsterism, teenage pregnancies and drug abuse.

 

2.                  Bible Exposition

Moses died before Israel entered the Promised Land in 1450 BC.  The Book of Deuteronomy records his last words to nation just arrived at the plains of Moab just across the Jordan River. They have arrived where they started from forty years ago. This is a new generation that Moses is writing to. Deuteronomy is in a sense Moses’ last will and testimony. Here Moses wrote from years of experience in walking with the Lord and from his leadership experience in leading a group of stiff-necked people, wandering in the wilderness.

 

3.                  Principles of  Biblical Parenting

3.1              Grace

q       Biblical parenting is by the grace of God alone. We become parents by God’s grace. Not everybody can be a parent. Not every couple can have babies.

q       We have a real experience of God. Our children have a second hand experience. Hence, we need to teach and remind them (Deu.11: 2; 5).

q       We have a duty to be good parents. Good parenting does not only involve providing the basic needs of the child. It also involves teaching our children the things of the Lord.

q       Many of us have delegated our parenting to maids, baby sitters, schools and our children’s friends. For example, one of my patients was looked after by a baby sitter all the time  and the parents visit him for an hour every week.

3.2              Relationship (v.19)19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

q       We must build relationship with our children.

q       Building relationship takes time.

Relationship is one of the few things we have to spend time to build. There is no other way. Some of us try to take a shortcut. We think we can buy relationship with expensive toys, food or gifts.  

To relate with our children, we must get into their world. To often we relate the to our children in the context of our world. Try to understand a child’s world. Everything is so much bigger. Everything is so much scarier and frightening. Peer opinions are important. The generation gap is when two worlds collide. “When I was young..” “Daddy, you just don’t understand”.

q       The myth of  ‘quality time’.

‘Quality time’ is one of the greatest fallacies of the twentieth century, like a one-minute manager. It is used to justify our not spending enough time with our children. It is used to justify our not making effort to find time for our children. We have time for everything else. We can find time to play golf, going shopping for new clothes, go to beauty parlor and play mahjong. We tell ourselves that it is okay we spend only an hour a day with our children. This hour is ‘quality time’. How can one hour have more value than other hours in the day? We can use this as an excuse. Well, I have had a ‘quality time’ hour with my children. My job is done. Let me get onto something else.

 

3.3              Obedience as Role Model (v.18,20,22) 18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. 22 If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him

This means that we have to walking with the Lord if we want our children to walk with the Lord. We must be good people if we want our children to be good.

q       Parents are role models for their children whether they like it or not.

q       Children are like tape recorders. They learn from what they observe. They know a phony when they see one. They realise when their parents say one thing and do another thing. “Mummy said smoking is bad for the body so why is Daddy smoking?” “In Children’s Church we are taught to love one another so why is Mummy and Daddy always fighting?” Parents are their first and most important role models.

q       Children cannot see God but they can see their parents. They get their idea of God from their parents.

q       Children get their worldview from their parents. What is more central in the family? Money? Fame? Status? Love? They learn all this at home by observing their parents. Do their parents have time for each other? Do their parents treat their neighbors well? Are their parents involved in community service? Are their parents always talking about buying the latest car, building a bigger house or the stock market? Is money the main topic of conversation?

3.4              Word. (v.18-20) 18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates,

 

q       Word of God: (v.18a) 18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds.    Mind à knowledge; Heart à wisdom. Parents must study and know the Word of God well. You cannot take anyone beyond what you are.

q       What to teach

q       Company they keep

q       Books they read

q       Movies/television they watch

q       Boundaries and punishment.

Children must be given clear boundaries agreed by both parents. Otherwise the children will play one parent against the other. If the boundaries were exceeded, they must be punished. Dr. Benjamin Spock did the world  a great disfavor when he taught that children should not be caned. He taught that children should be reasoned with. Try reasoning with a three year old!

PR 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son,

    but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

      PR 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,

                                                  but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

                              PR 23:14 Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.

                               PR 29:15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom,                                           

                                               but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.

 

Dr. Spock created a generation that has no respect for authorities and rules.

q       Responsibilities/chores

q       Money/work to earn

q       Respect their elders

q       Pray and read the Bible

One Sunday school teacher complained that it is difficult to get the students to read the Bible because none of the parents read the Bible at home.

 

4.                  Purpose of Biblical Parenting (v.21-23)

4.1              The Goal (v.22) 22 If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him

q       Love the Lord your God

q       Walk in all His ways

q       Hold fast to Him

4.2              The Blessings (v.21,23) 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. 23 then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you.

 

5.                  Closing Remarks

The Biblical principles to GROW our children so that they will love the Lord,

             to walk in all His ways and to hold fast to Him.                              

            (Grace, Relationship, Obedience, Word)

 

Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

 

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