Vol.XVII No.II Pg.6
April 1980

Idealistically Speaking

Robert F. Turner

Someone has defined the "expert on child-rearing" as the one who has no children. If that be true — then several weeks ago, during a series on marriage and the family, a group of young married "experts" met to study the subject of raising children. When we began to look at what the Bible has to say on the subject, it was sobering to learn of the awesome responsibility God has given the father. Yet, what was even more sobering was to realize how many fathers are not fulfilling their responsibility.

In II Cor. 12:14, Paul refers to the principle that parents are to provide for the physical needs of their children. However, caution must be exercised so that this obligation does not overshadow a much more important responsibility. A third grader wrote —"Dear Abby, My dad works all the time. He is never home. He gives me money and lots of toys, but I hardly ever see him. I love him and wish he would not work all the time so I could see him more. Signed, Jeff." Too many fathers emphasize the physical care of their children to the neglect of spiritual upbringing. Paul admonishes, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). Spiritual training takes time. Jeff's dad, after reading his son's letter, wrote —"I realized I was depriving my family of something far more important (than physical luxuries — ko), myself and my time I quit both part-time jobs and we adjusted our standard of living accordingly ...I have learned that the greatest gift a man can give his children is himself and his time." The Psalmist says that "children are a heritage of Jehovah; and the fruit of the womb is his reward" (Ps. 127:3). It's sad that some fathers often complain about the burdens, anxiety, and heartaches associated with their offspring — and they seldom consider the blessings which are brought about by the same. As an older preacher told me, "Why, the education alone is worth the investment. My children have taught me more than I will ever be able to teach them — they have taught me to be patient, unselfish, sensitive to others, to live consistently with what I teach..." With this attitude, fathers can say, "As the arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them" (Ps. 127:4,5).

The responsibilities of becoming a father are rapidly being placed upon my shoulders and my thoughts are turning in that direction. In writing about the relationship of fathers to their children, I can understand how some fathers would resent a younger man giving them his opinion on how they should raise their children (especially if he has no children). In Job 32:6, Elihu admitted, "I am young and ye are very old"— yet he went on to say, "the breath of the Almighty giveth them understanding. It is not the great that are wise, nor the aged that understand justice." The key in striving to be the ideal father is to stick with the ideal. It doesn't take an "expert" to read and understand God's instructions to the father. May we continue to encourage each other to follow His will and may He help us all to be ideal fathers. K. O'Banion