As I was thinking on the issues of child training, I thought maybe we better step back for a moment and each think about the question: 'Why do you have children?'
1. Because you had sex and got pregnant?
2. Because you thought a baby would make you happy?
3 Because you thought a baby would make your man stay with you?
4. Isn't it just what people do when they grow up?
5. Because you wanted to pass on hubby’s family name?
6. Your parents (or someone else) thought it was time you had children?
7. You wanted to get money from a man/the government?
8. You wanted/needed someone to love you?
Are any of these GOOD reasons for having children?
Some might argue they are indeed legitimate reasons for having a child, but when we examine them more closely, we will see they indeed are not. None of these reasons take into consideration neither the fact that your expectation might not be met, nor the long term responsibility that comes with having a child. For example:
1. If you got pregnant by mistake, will this baby be a joy to you or a burden? How will your pregnancy affect your emotions? Will people around you have negative things to say? Will you feel shame and resent the baby?
2. If you had a baby to make you happy, you are giving that child a job before they are even born. What will you do when you are faced with the frustration of having a sickly child, or one that cries all the time? Will this make you happy?
3. If you had a baby to keep your man, but he leaves you anyway, will you still love his child? Will you have bitterness against the baby when it is born? How will you cope being a single mom?
4. If you had a baby because it’s just what people do, will you be genuinely interested in this baby's life, or mostly leave him to raise himself?
5. If you had a baby to pass on the family name, what happens when you only have girls?
6. If you had a baby to please your parents (or someone else), how will you feel when this baby is needy, and the people who wanted you to have the baby in the first place refuse to help?
7. If you had a baby to get money from someone else, will they give you enough to provide for you and your child? Will you even spend that money on the child? Remember, you are responsible for this baby's care until they are at least 18 years old...
8. If you had a child so that someone will love you, there is no guarantee this will happen. In fact, most children are rebellious at some point and resent the involvement and restraint parents put on their life. What will you do if the child refuses to return your love?
When we think through the reasons given above for why many people have children, we can see they are all faulty. They are full of selfishness and lack of responsibility. They all list expectations of what we want to get out of the child before it's even born. When we have a child for one of the above reasons, we have not clearly thought through all the consequences.
Like everything else, God has a reason why we should have children. The Bible is also very clear about what our attitude should be toward children. They are not just instruments to be used to gain an advantage of some kind. God loves children and tells us we need to be more like them to enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
Psalm 127:3 “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” The word heritage in this verse means inheritance. Something given to a child from a father. Meaning, our children do not belong to us, but are given to us by God to raise for Him. They are a reward we are given before showing good performance, not after. Think about that one!
When we think about having children, we ought to think about what our responsibility is. All too often in these times people are looking for ways to pawn their parental responsibility off on other people. Children are left with Grannies and Grandpas most of the time. Parents expect the church to teach them not only the Bible, but manners, respect and obedience.
God gives parents a challenge in Pro 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
We, as parents, are to train our children in the way they should go, not the way they would go if left to themselves. We ought to teach the ways of the Lord, the Bible. It is up to us. God did not say for us to send our children to Sunday School and hope they turn out alright. Or put them in daycare from the time they can walk and pray no one hurts them or wrongly influences them.
God gives this command (yes it's a command!) to parents. Why?
Deut. 31:12 “Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:
13 And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.”
God wants us to have children so we can teach them (by our example) to live and do right so that we (and our children) can influence the world around us. Not so they can make us happy, or try and save our marriage, or so that we bring in a couple extra bucks a month, but so that we can be a godly influence in an ungodly world.
If we keep this in mind as we raise our children, it will go a long way to encourage us when we feel like we are making no progress. Or when we feel like giving up.
Look for Part Two where we'll talk about how to implement this responsibility.