“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18: 16-17 (NRSV). In heeding Jesus Christ’s admonition, we can clearly see that children are featured prominently in God’s plan of eternity. The key therefore, for raising children is on their upbringing in spiritual ways, through education, understanding, and experience.
Parents and family members teach them the rules of the home. These are good and necessary for the entire family. Because kids are young, standards are taught in simple ways which are easily understood. Children of average intelligence will have no problems knowing the dos and don’ts taught them daily.
Italian author, Pieto Aretino (1492 – 1556), who wielded immense influence on contemporary arts and politics, observed, “I love you, and because I love you, I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth than adore me for telling you lies.” This realization not only goes for the children who parents love, but for the relationships of dads and moms.
As our children grow older they have more holistic goals. In kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school, they begin to learn about growing up, which are important in cultivating well-rounded personalities. Parents and teachers move away from reading, writing, and arithmetic, but to going to church, doing physical exercises, studying, and participating in team sports. Parents take time to explain the merits and demerits of activities. They tell kids why “getting adequate exercise is necessary, and how it’s also meant for developing team spirit.” With special programs, they will develop the skills of playing, working, and understanding why sharing, and cooperation, are essential for building community spirit.
Babe Ruth (1895 – 1948), baseball player, explained, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together the club won’t be worth a dime.” Ruth like parents realize that although individual performance is desired, it’s for kids to understand success lies with the team. As Christians we are first of all a community and that’s what matters most.
Nutrition and Tests
Growing up as children we often are told by our parents, “Drink your milk. It’s perfect food with lots of protein and vitamins.” We will hear, “To be strong, you’ve got to eat your vegetables.” Other advice comes to us, “You mustn’t eat so much candy, it isn’t good for you. Watch your fruit juices, soda, and be careful about additives.” These ingredients children are told are harmful to them, if they are to grow into healthy adults. Parents remind them, “Be sure to get your sleep, rest, and exercise, for they benefit your growth, spirit, and emotional health.”
Throughout their lives there will be tests. Tests at school make kids anxious, concerning whether they will pass, or fail exams. Playing on teams make them wonder if they will be good enough players. And, then again, going to their doctors for shots and in times of illnesses. With these tests they are ready for college.
A Life with God
Yet, parents and teachers will be amiss if they raise children not knowing of a loving God. It’s true there are many denominations from which a family may choose a faith tradition. When they attend church with their children they continue to teach them vital lessons about life. They demonstrate to them that what they do are important. In life it’s good to let them see that living without God is meaningless. It’s for parents to teach children about Christ’s advice, to love one another, and be of service to mankind.
Thomas Paine (1737 – 1809), English-American political activist and revolutionary, reminded us, “Those who want to recap the benefits of this great nation must bear the fatigue of supporting it.” Living in a Christian nation, we have to bear crosses. It’s our weight if you like, as we journey onward while working for the advancement of our societies. This is being like children, living in the simplicity of Christian vocations.