– William Tiptaft
It’s Caught, Not Taught
I think most parents and grandparents with grown children know by now that more is caught than is ever taught. I would put it this way: They can’t hear what you are saying because your actions are drowning out your words. They can see what you really mean, not by what you say but by what you do. If they see you say one thing and then do just the opposite, you can talk all you want, but it won’t really do any good at all, so it’s true that more is caught than is taught.
Leaving Them an Example
Christ left “you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21), and so must parents do the same so their children will follow in their steps. If those steps lead to sinful activities, that’s where they’ll tread. If your steps walk in the way of righteousness, they are more likely to follow in those steps when they’re adults. This means that parents must set “an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). The parakeet effect is that children will speak the way the parents speak because they’ve heard it repeated so often. Scary, isn’t it?
The Duty of Parents
Moses wrote to the nation of Israel something that is critical to her survival, which was that they should “take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children” (Deut. 4:9). This is so that “their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess” (Deut. 31:13). We must teach, remind, and instruct what God has done in the past so that they don’t forget to obey what God commands, or they will suffer from a lack of this knowledge and face the consequences.
Turning the Hearts
In the last book in the Old Testament, God tells the nation of Israel, “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction” (Mal. 4:5-6). John the Baptist fulfilled the part about the coming of Elijah, as Jesus said, “And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come” (Matt. 11:14). The point is that, first, the hearts of the fathers must turn to their children, and only then will “the hearts to the children turn to their fathers.” If not, the land will be stricken and destroyed. Almost 90% of the prisoners our church visits or writes had their father abandon them. What is happening to America? Surely it is destruction.
Being the Parent, Not Their Buddy
It is too easy for the parent to be their child’s best friend, but we are to be their parents. It is more important to be respected than popular, and parents must be the law at home. Paul actually writes, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” (Col. 3:20). He never qualifies it with “obey your parents if they’re good parents” but simply obey! It’s more than obey because they must also “honor your father and mother,” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land” (Eph. 6:2-3). Once again, they must honor them, not only if they are honorable, because the result can be that they “may live long on the land.”
Parents, you have a huge responsibility because children are the future of any nation, and families are the foundation of every society. As the family goes, so goes society, either for the good or the bad. Remember, they will do as you do, not as you say.