How to Treat
Children and Parents
Family relationships are so important to right thinking people. The family and home is the basic unit of society. Usually, when things are not right at home, they are not right anywhere. We witness two extremes people have toward kinfolk. There is either great partiality (the “blood thicker than water” attitude), and the other quite the opposite. With some, they treat their family worse than they would anybody else on earth. But who is dearer to us than our children and our parents? We can add to this the love we have for faithful brethren.
Jesus taught that our spiritual relationship to Him is far more precious than even family relationships. Matthew 12:46-50, “While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? arid who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold, my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Christ before family and spiritual kinship before physical kinship is also taught in Matthew 10:34-39. But without question, the family has a special place in the heart.
About Your Children
Are you not impressed how much and how strongly the Scripture teaches about love for children? The relationship between God and the redeemed is pictured as a father-child relationship. God always has admonished care for widows and children, and forbade that they ever be oppressed. Jesus even compared those in the kingdom to be as children. There are strong words underscoring parental responsibility in rearing children in both the Old and New Testaments. God has a special concern for children.
Treat as Children
Children should be treated as children, not simply small adults. First Corinthians 13:11 shows there is a difference between a child and an adult. We know that, but we do not always show that we know that. Children, by reason of immaturity, lack knowledge, wisdom and experience. They have limited abilities, skills and vocabularies because they are in the early stages of learning. Some seem to expect children to act like adults. Some adults keep acting like children, but it is unfair and unreal to expect children to behave in a mature fashion even as they are being taught to do so.
We must treat them with tender compassion. Psalm 103:13. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” Children are to be considered as gifts from God. Consider the attitude of Samson's parents toward the child that would born unto them (Judges 13:8,12). Psalm 127:3-5. "Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord, and fruit of the womb is his reward.” Eve considered her child as a manchild from God.
Children can be the source of one of life’s greatest joys. Third John 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear than my children walk in truth.” There are several matters involved in producing this joy. Much depends on how we treat our children and how children treat parents.
Respect for the Children
We should have respect for our children. They have feelings, too. Some parents scream at their children, yelling, snatching. jerking, physically slapping and knocking at the slightest provocation. Who has not seen little fellows crushed at heart because of the insensitive way some parent treated them? Often this is seen at the ball fields, the grocery stores, etc. We should never abuse them verbally or physically. That’s wrong!
Each One an Individual
We must recognize that each child is a unique person and nobody can fill or take his or her place. It is dangerous to make too much comparison between children because they vary in talents and dispositions. Some are quicker than others to learn. They possess different talents. But each is distinctive and worthy. One mother was trying to find out why one child turned out well but another did not. She said, “I treated them just alike.” That may have been the major cause. They were not alike and should be considered individually.
Even though they are different we cannot be partial. Some may be easier to rear than others because dispositions differ. There is the real need for the exercise of the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). You cannot treat a teenager like a pre-schooler, or vice versa. Jacob’s mistake regarding his sons was partiality toward Joseph and it caused hatred from Joseph’s brothers. We must always seek what is best for each child.
Not to Provoke, but to Love
Ephesians 6:4 teaches us not to provoke our children to wrath. Parents can make their children unnecessarily angry. Sometimes we may simply be trying to show them who is boss and we become overbearing. Children who feel crushed and overpowered by arbitrary power learn rebellion and resentment. Provoking the worst from our children is an abuse, not use, of our authority. Seeking their highest good is to show true love. You will not be the perfect parent nor have perfect children, but love covers many mistakes. Women are taught to love their children (Titus 2:4). You do not neglect nor mistreat those you love. A trait of the wicked was being without natural affection (Romans 1:3 1), which means the failure to love even your own flesh and blood. Some “mothers” today have murdered their children, beat them, aborted them, etc. God will not overlook that!
It is the primary duty of parents to train their children. Ephesians 6:4 says to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” The training is the parent’s job.
This includes discipline, but that is not just punishment. Discipline means showing the way to go as well as deterring the way not to go. Genesis 18: 19. “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment...” You, the parent, are authority. You are more than just another friend. By word and example you have to show and teach them right from wrong, truth from error, righteousness from evil. If we spare the rod (a euphemism for discipline and training), we will spoil the child (Proverb 13:24: 23:13.14: 29:15). Never does the Word of God allow abusing the child.
Eli’s failure, although he was mostly a good man himself, was that he failed to rightly discipline his children (First Samuel 2:12,29). The most frustrated youth alive is the one not trained to know the difference between right and wrong, and are not taught individual responsibility for what they do.
Providing Guidance and Counsel
Children do not always heed good advice and direction. But they have to learn to make decisions and in time will make all of their own decisions. We want it to be that way. But it is the task of parents to provide them standards and a sound basis upon which to stand in making decisions. When they have to decide, without you, will they know how? Will they know why? That is part of the parent’s job of ruling the house. Parents should make it as easy as possible for their children to come to them and receive good counsel and advice.
Life is sometimes overflowing with discouraging things. Our children meet with disappointments also. They must be shown how to deal with them. We should not be the source of discouragement. I have heard parents say to their children, “You never do anything right. Won’t you ever learn anything?” I ate supper at one home and was told by the little boy of four or five, “Daddy says I am a bad boy.” I told him he was not bad. Children may do things that are bad at times, but that does not make them bad children. They soon develop the sense that this is expected of them so they do as expected. Parents should help them succeed, build self-esteem and self-respect, show them their worth, because they are souls and are loved by their parents and by God.
Provide, Protect, Teach to Stand
First Timothy 5:8 and Second Corinthians 12:14 shows we are to provide for our young spiritually as well as physically. How can children get along well if nobody protects them from harm? Moses’ mother cared for him and protected him. Joseph and Mary protected Jesus by taking Him to Egypt. They cannot stand alone. But they must be taught to stand alone. The time will come when you will not be there to prop them up and them must learn to stand, where to stand, why to stand and how to stand. The time will come when we must turn them loose, and that is not easy to do, but must be done. There are other elements we could justifiably mention, but now turn attention the other direction.
Treating Our Parents
How we treat our parents depends in which stage of our relationship we are. We have different duties as minors than we do when we reach maturity, or when they become dependent upon us as we have been dependent upon them. As minors, we are to love and obey. The child in the home has the duty to conform to the will of the parents. As mature men and women we are to care for and provide for them, especially when they need us.
Honoring parents means to give respect and special consideration (Ephesians 6:2). Children can bring joy and gladness to their parents, or they can bring reproach, sorrow and despair. How can people so live as to hurt their parents who cared for them when they were small? Parents sometimes make bad mistakes, but shall we always be unforgiving and “make them pay” as if their feelings do not matter to us? Third John 4 is something we should provide for our parents to say. We owe them that. Proverbs 23: 24,25 "The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice, and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice."
Included in showing respect is to speak kindly of them, doing things that show our love and appreciation. “Disobedient to parents" was a mark of the wicked Gentile world (Romans 1:30; Second Timothy 3:2).
As minors we are to obey (Ephesians (6:1), as Jesus was subject to Mary and Joseph while living in Nazareth (Luke 2.52). We must pay attention to their instructions (Proverbs 1:8: 4:1: 23:22).
Parents have to sacrifice so much for their children. They do it from love, but it is sacrifice nonetheless. Be thankful if you had good parents and let them know you are thankful for them. Be sure your children have good parents so they can be thankful for you someday.
The time eventually comes, if all goes normally and as usual, that your parents become aged, if they live. They may be relatively helpless and in need of physical care and assistance Children should provide. "Requite their parents" (First Timothy 5:4) means to provide for them. Jesus rebuked some who gave gifts to their faith but neglected caring for their parents (Mark 7:11 13), abiding by their own traditions and making the law of God of none effect.
What you sow, you shall reap (Galatians 6.7.8). This ought to sober children. You need to show your children how to treat parents by the way you treat their grandparents. When the time comes when you must bid them good-bye, and you stand by their coffin and grave, there is great comfort in the knowledge that you treated them properly. God help us treat our children and parents as God would have us treat them.
1. Discuss the physical and spiritual kinship we have.
2. How must children be treated?
3. In what ways can parents make children unnecessarily angry?
4. What are some of the primary functions of parents toward their children?
5. How are children to treat parents when children are young?
6. How are children to treat parents when parents become old?
7. What warning is given in this lesson to children regarding their parents?