The Duty of Parents
Great are the responsibilities of a husband, and great are the responsibilities of a wife. But greater still are the responsibilities of parents. Father and mother, God lays a responsibility upon you as you receive your newborn child—a precious, immortal soul, whose eternal destiny depends largely upon you. The proper training of children is attended with many difficulties, and every parent certainly needs instruction from God. Your child is given you from God, and you in return should give him trustingly to God, like a mother of olden time: “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:27-28) This consecration of children to God is the first duty of parents.
The successful training of a child is due more to example than to commandment. The tremendous influence of example upon young minds is rarely comprehended. We are instructed to be “an example… in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity,” (1 Timothy 4:12) and to be “a pattern of good works.” (Titus 2:7)
It is the parents’ duty “to love their children.” (Titus 2:4) Perhaps every parent thinks and is ready to say, “I love my child.” True love as required by the Bible involves more than you may have considered. They who indulge their children in a worldly life do not love them as the Bible commands. Because the priest Eli did not restrain his children from the ways of sin, God sent an awful judgment upon him (1 Samuel 3). Parents who love their children as they should will do the very best for them, and the instructions given in the Bible are the safest and best to follow.
As you looked into the face of your own child, did you remember that this little treasure was a “heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3)? It may be that you were unmindful of this “fruit of the womb” being a gracious heritage from God: but such is every one. God created man and woman to “Be fruitful, and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) through bearing offspring. When Esau and Jacob met after their long separation and enmity, Esau inquired, “Who are those with thee?” Jacob replied, “The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.” (Genesis 33:5) Blessed is the man that can look into the face of his newborn child and say in the depths of his heart: “This is a child graciously given me of God.”
God, in His own mysterious way, creates a new body from the mother’s life and blood. But did you know that at the same time He creates an immortal soul? That newborn life contains an immortal part, which very much depends upon the direction you provide as to where it will exist in eternity. Oh, may you feel this deep in your heart. God has given into your charge a life and a soul. When you come to appear before Him in the day of judgment, you will then have to render an account of how you have dealt with your child. Oh, what weighty responsibility! What a charge! God help us! With such a sacred trust, what shall we do? Like she of olden time, who petitioned the God of heaven for a child, carry him back to the Lord, and there implore grace and wisdom and guidance from above to train these little feet in the way that leads to endless joys.
Parents, as you look upon the fresh face of your slumbering infant, and then envision the road ahead through his life, what do you want him to become? Do you want him to grow up to manhood a poor, delicate, frail body with but little energy or vitality with which to meet the sterner duties of life? Do you want him to be slothful, shiftless, timid, and addicted to such as will bring him to shame, ruin, and death? “What!” you reply with disgust. “Would you picture such a life for my innocent boy?” Such a thought is instantly banished from you. With all your heart you desire him to become a true and noble man. You want him to be strong, full of energy and vitality, of great mental and physical worth, of manly ways, of pure habits, and in every way a worthy son. Yes, that is the life you fondly picture for your son. Well, here he lies an infant in your arms. He is at your mercy. You have the power to make of him almost what you will. You can lead him in the paths of virtue to a generous Christian manhood, or you can neglect him and allow him to go to shame and ruin. Let this thought be impressed deeply upon your consciousness: the life and destiny of your child depends largely upon you—you can make it what you will. God help and bless you.