Children are a wonderful gift from God, and He has given us parents, that very important role to take care of them here on earth. Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a real blessing.” Parenting is not an easy task because children will try your patience and drive you crazy, among other things, but the experience of raising them is teaching me how to be patient, which is a very important virtue. It is of great importance to me that I instill in my children important values that will carry them throughout their years. We ought to nurture them, love them, respect them, correct them, encourage them, pray with and for them, lead them by example, and teach them about God. It is also important that we lay some ground rules in the home, especially when it comes to their Christian faith. With the influx of technology, it is so easy to get carried away, focus more on things that do not necessarily matter, and spend less time with God. God must come first in my home, and this is what I teach and encourage my children to follow. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says, “Never forget these commands that I am giving you today. Teach them to your children, repeat them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working. Tie them on your arms and wear them on your foreheads as a reminder. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.”
There are a lot of terrible things happening today causing people to live in constant fear. When our children go to school, we worry about them. Nowhere seems safe anymore. I really feel sorry that our children have to deal with a lot of these unpleasant occurrences. I never recalled my parents panicking or worrying if I was okay anytime I went out to play or visit friends. That is not the case with our kids these days. There is a lot to worry about. Do you watch the news, read newspapers, or pay attention to social media? There is always something bad going on—killings, shootings, abductions, kidnapping, hatred, racial profiling, the suicide rate increasing (especially amongst young people)— just things that never used to happen. This is the reason we, as parents, need to step up now more than ever. We must make sure that our kids are leaning toward God and are fully equipped to make it in this dark age. They need to know that God is the only true refuge. Psalm 46:1-3 says, “God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So, we will not be afraid, even if the earth is shaken and the mountains fall into the ocean depths; even if the seas roar and rage, and the hills are shaken by the violence.”
God has given us all the tools we need to survive the different storms that we go through. He already knew from the beginning that we would go through all sorts of challenges. We need to know God’s words and guide our children in the way of the Lord as they grow up. We also need to encourage them to always share their experiences with us and to speak up or seek help where appropriate. This, I believe, will help our children to have more realistic expectations of life and a better understanding of how to deal with certain challenges. In section 6 of this book, I listed some tools that can help us as parents to offer better guidance to our children as they grow up and face real-life challenges. It is important that we teach our children that things do not always go the way we want them to. For example, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we all had plans of things we wanted to do and places we wanted to go, but these plans all came to a sudden halt with the lockdown restrictions imposed across nations to curb the spread of the virus. It is important to know that things like this cannot be ruled out. Our faith must be tested somehow. It is just like going to school and having to sit for an exam to test our knowledge. If the test is not administered, how will the instructor be able to assess what we know? Unfortunately, challenges and sufferings are part of our existence in the world. Jesus said in John 16:33, “The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world.”
The world makes us suffer because the devil is the ruler of the world, and that is what he does—make people suffer— but only those who believe that Jesus is Lord can defeat the world. Paul, in James 1:12, said, “Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him.” There will always be storms along the way (death, poverty, hardships, joblessness, loneliness, bullying, etc.), so it helps to prepare ahead of time so we do not get lost in them. Sometimes, these trials might be a signal to acknowledge God, set our priorities right, and continue to grow in our faith. We need to teach our children how to say, “God, Your will, not mine; Your time, not mine,” because God’s timing is always perfect. It is perfect because He knows and sees the future, while on the other hand, we have no idea what the next minute will bring.
Everyone faces one trial or another, but remember that, “Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out” (1 Cor. 10:13). What a consolation!
My promise to God is that I am going to do my best, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to raise my kids in Christian discipline and instruction without making excuses for them. I will do my best to teach and prepare them on how to be still and trust God when there is a storm in their lives and how to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus and not get sucked up by the storm. I want them to be among the ones who will make it through that narrow gate.
Most of the solid teachings that I gained and still learn from my parents, I teach my own children because I believe that laying a strong foundation for children is important and carries them throughout their lives. “Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life” (Prov. 22:6). Some may fall along the way, but most times, they will find their way back. The good news is that God is always there to accept us. He is a merciful God.
I had an interview session with my three children, Chimuanya (10), Chiemela (9), and Chimoge (7) because I wanted to assess their understanding of life so far. Some of the questions I asked were:
“I know you are still growing and have not seen anything yet, but what do you understand about life?” They said, “Life is not always a straight line;” “there are bumps along the way, and you will not always get your way in life.”
“Do you think the knowledge of God helps you understand life and will also help you as you grow?” They said, “Yes!”
“Do you think the world is a bed of roses, or do you think there are lots of challenges?” The answer I received was, “Lots of challenges because a lot of people kill in the world, but if you follow God, you will win the battles with the devil.” “If things do not go the way you want to, what do you do then?”
Their responses were, “I tell myself that God has everything planned for me;” “I pray because when I pray, thing will be good;” “I act like a baby and almost cry, but I get over it.” That last answer was funny, especially coming from the oldest!
Discussion/Reflection Question: Even though we pray and go to church, I often wondered if my children have at least that basic knowledge of God. That was why I decided to interview them.
• Have you ever wondered the same?
• Do you think your children are well-equipped for what lies ahead?