November 23, 2020
Weekly Reflection – Start Children Off
“Start children off in the way they should go and even when they are old they will not depart from it.”
Last week we enjoyed having our one-year-old grandchild over for a play day. Some time during that visit, I turned on the TV show Sesame Street and had it play the “ABC Song.” Eleanor watched it closely. A little while later, I observed her trying to sing what she had just heard. “Ahh, Bah, Cha…” It wasn’t quite the correct diction, but it was close enough to understand what she was doing. She was already being molded by what she watched on the Television! Beyond that, she clearly recognizes people on her mom’s iPhone when they call using FaceTime. And she joyfully dances when she hears certain types of music coming from some form of electronic medium. I bring this up to point up the importance of parents’ choosing what to expose their children to. There are so many options, both good and bad! And the child will retain both.
All parents have an agenda for their children. They may not even recognize it, but they do. What about your family? Many families read stories to their children at bedtime. I recently observed one who has chosen to read children’s books such as I Look Up to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the famous Supreme Court Justice. Another might read to their son exciting adventure stories. I remember reading about Charles Lindbergh and The Spirit of Saint Louis when I was in grade school. These all seem to be good, but what I admire the most is parents who choose to share children’s versions of appropriate Bible stories from an early age. You can guess which of these examples has the best chance of resulting in Christ oriented grown children.
Do you remember Moses’ teaching to the Israelites?
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love
the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your strength. These commandments that I give
you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your
children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you
walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
As children grow older, they are often encouraged to participate in various organizations, i.e., perhaps the Boy Scouts, a church youth group, a soccer team, etc. These impact their future choices in life as well, for either the good or the bad. I recently read of how effective propaganda was in bringing the children of pre-World War II Germany into the Hitler Youth organization and from that to adult Nazi fanaticism.
And, of course, the choice of an institution of higher learning will provide the final grounding before the newly minted young person launches out into the adult world. Will they pursue a career in technology, sports, or some form of caring-profession suitable for a committed Christian? It all depends on how they have been brought up.
Most important of all, to me, is what children see in the lives of their parents. Are they loving or combative? Do they care for others or only their own getting ahead? I remember a wise elder saying to his children, “You never build yourself up by tearing someone else down.” Children are listening to every word, whether the parent is aware of it or not. What are your children hearing?
So, this week, let us focus on starting our children off in the way they should go so that when they grow old, they will not depart from it.
Read more Weekly Reflections: Chaplain’s Corner