We have all heard the old expression, “Do as I say, not as I do,” used by people more than once. It seems to be one of the favorites of those who send their children to church, but never manage to attend themselves. People, especially parents, never seem to accept this does not work. Children will almost always emulate what they see their parents do.
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is easy to lose sight of important things, while spending too much time on unimportant things. Families find themselves struggling to make ends meet. They are up to their ears in debt. Both parents work outside the home. The children are either at the baby-sitter or more than likely they are “latch key kids.” Either way parents are shirking the responsibility of raising their children, because they are not the ones raising the children. They are allowing someone else to do what God has ordained for them to do (Eph 6:4).
Do you ever wonder why there is so much crime and violence in the world? Perhaps we need to look at the examples our children have placed before them. The news media reports only violent crime. Rare is the time when good things are reported. Entertainment on television is not much (if any) better, with such as, “Power Rangers,” “Bart Simpson,” “Bevis and Butthead,” “Ellen,” and MTV. The movies must, they claim, portray life “as it really is,” with all the violence and sex they can muster.
These are the examples children are left to learn from. Mom and Dad are never around to instruct the children, so they find their instruction wherever (movies, TV, back allies). And moreover, when Mom and Dad do get home, they are not married, they just live together. What kind of example does this set for children when they see their supposed role models living in violation of God’s word (Heb 13:4)?
Solomon wrote in Prov 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” How can you “train up” a child in the right way is you yourself are not walking in the right way (Jer 10:23)? Parents today, all too often, want someone else to accept the blame for what their child is doing. We hear phrases such as, “It’s just human nature,” or “That’s not my responsibility.” How about this, “I just don’t have the time.” So, someone else gets to set the standard.
Perhaps they just don’t believe in spanking a child when it does wrong. After all, psychologists tell us spanking will warp the child’s psyche and he/she will grow up maladjusted. Yet all through God’s word we are told the parents responsibility is to discipline their children (Prov 29:15; Prov; Prov 13:24). Even Eph. 6:4 (already quoted earlier) carries the idea of disciplining the child when necessary.
It is a shame more parents don’t understand they have the obligation to set an example for their children. The prophet Eli not only lost the life of his sons for not disciplining them when they were disobedient, but also lost his life (1 Sam. 2:12-17; 22-34; 4:11-18). Because of the choices Lot made, he caused his daughters to commit fornication (Gen. 19:30-38). One of the first things done by Noah after leaving the ark was to plant a vineyard. There was nothing wrong with planting the vineyard, but Noah got drunk on the drink made from the fruit of the vineyard. This act caused his youngest son, Ham, to sin (Gen. 9). All these children had to make their own choice but look at the influence exerted by their parents.
The apostle Peter says in 1 Pet. 2:21 that Christ is to be our example. The apostle Paul says, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Paul was trying with everything he had to do the will of God, and we would do will to follow his admonition. Following examples and imitation are how children learn to do things in life. They imitate what they see others doing.
If, by your actions, you are not setting a good example for your children to follow, do not be too surprised when they go wrong. Parents, it is your responsibility to set the example for your children and to discipline them when necessary. God commands this. And if you shirk that responsibility, you are going to have to accept some of the responsibility for the awful consequences of where your children spend eternity.