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The role of parents in the education of their children—that’s what I’ve been thinking at lately. I am talking about Christian parents in particular.
The role of parents in Jewish communities
Someone once asked Isidore Rabi why he became a scientist. That happened after he won the Nobel Prize for physics. Isidore Rabi replied that his mother made him a scientist without knowing it because every time he came back from school she would ask him what questions did you ask your teacher today? There is a Jewish saying: “to defend a country you need an army, but to defend a civilization you need education.” And from ancient times, education began in the family. Parents were always those who would hand on their values, ideals, principles, and morals to the next generation. Parents are those who need to teach their children by their example. They need to show truth to their children and help them make excellent decisions and to support them.
Education begins at home
I’ve learned the ABCs at home, from my family. And I remember that even after I began going to school, my parents (my mother in particular) spend time every day with me and my two brothers and check on our homework. I’ve learned about the importance of school and education in my family. It’s a fact that when parents get involved in the education of their children (by asking them questions, doing homework together, or when children see their parents reading or writing, etc.) then children have higher goals, drop out less and value education much better. That’s especially true for the children who live in disadvantaged families.
The role of parents is to teach their children the ways of God
One of the first roles of Christian parents is to teach their children the ways of God. One can see that clearly in God’s conversation with Abraham (Gen 18:19); or in God’s command to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4-6. Perhaps one of the best known scriptures is from Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” The most important education a child can get is about God. And the truth is our public schools, kindergartens, and Universities cannot and will not teach our children the (entire) truth about God.
Parents need to take responsibility for the education of their children
Christian parents need to accept their God-given role as educators for their children. No other book and new school system will replace the parent’s role in the education of their children. The many children who grew up in Christian families and now do not walk with the Lord can prove that Christian education is not taken seriously in families. No matter what path our children will choose in life, they need to know God’s principles or ways. And nobody can teach them God’s ways as good as their parents. If we as parents will not teach our children the ways of God, the world will teach them the lies of the enemy.
The role of parents is to show their children who God is
A second role of Christian parents is to be an example of how God is like. The Scriptures present God as a Teacher (Psalm 32:8; Matthew 23:8; John 14:26). And by teaching and exemplifying to our children the ways of God, we are actually showing how God is like. I am reminded of the example of Lot, who was the only righteous person in his family (2 Peter 2:7); his wife and children did not walk with God. Unfortunately, the Bible has many more examples of parents who failed to show God to their children through their deeds (like David, Solomon, Eli).
In the end, one can teach his children all the wonderful things of God, but if one does not model God’s character, then his children will fail in knowing God. Earthly parents (especially fathers) represent God the Father to their children—the responsibility on the shoulders of parents is that great.
It is sad when parents don’t accept their God-given role are teachers for their children. I could say it’s even more tragic when parents don’t get involved at all in the education of their children—secular or non-secular education. When parents keep their promises, they teach their children that God keeps His promises as well. When parents correct their children, they teach their children that God is a loving Father who corrects His children as well. Moreover, when parents teach their children about what is pleasing them and what is displeasing them, they teach them how their children can live a life pleasing to the Lord. By their behaviour, parents teach their children (often more than by their words) of who and how God is like.
The role of parents is to encourage
A third role of Christian parents is to walk with them through life. Dr. Henry Cloud said (I can’t remember where) that the only duty of parents is to let their children go—become independent. The role of parents is to prepare their children for the real life: for marriage, for earning a living, raising children, stewardship, etc. Children are called to leave their parents and start their own family (Genesis 2:24). At the same time, parents are called to let go of their children. However, even after their children leave home, parents can still teach their children many things about life. Things like what does it mean to be a parent, how to build a legacy or remain faithful to God and your spouse even after many years. For parents, educating their children will never end.
Education will have different degrees in life and it will look different at different stages in the life of children, but education will never cease. Education is not only about sending our children to learn in public or private schools. From ancient and Biblical times, education began in families. And one of God’s purposes for the family is to educate children according to God’s Word.
Maybe a parent is not the best person to teach all there is to know about mathematics or chemistry; but there are certain things that only a parent can teach his children. And that is revealing God and His ways to them—and be an example of integrity and proper reflection of who God is. The role of parents in the education of their children remains essential.
Do you agree?
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 Violi, Greg, Finding Father, Finding Wholeness, Der Uberwinder-Verlag, Germany, 2016, p. 14.
I am a blogger, writer, minister, husband to Olguta, and most importantly, a child of God. I am also a certified Coach, Speaker, Trainer, and Teacher with The John Maxwell Team, and I am helping people reach their full potential.