The media continually shows us the latest in every trend: food, clothing, diets, vitamins, religion, housing, video games, movies, entertainment and so forth. Peers continually influence the way we think, and the way our children think. Schools dictate what the children learn, and don't learn. It is up to us, the parents, to teach our children the difference between right and wrong, the correct way to respond to peer pressure, the healthy way to live their lives.
Proverbs 22:6 (NKJ) says: Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Teaching our children respect; respect for others, respect for themselves, and most importantly respect for God; teaches them values they will not find in society today. Gone are the days when everyone knew each other. Gone are the days when God was the center of everyone's lives, the center of our (the United States) government. Children once knew better than to get out of line, even away from their parents line of sight. Neighbors were more than just the person living in the house next to you. Neighbors were close friends, and in some cases family. Neighbors worshiped together, shared meals with each other, had BBQ's.
In today's society, parents tend to feel like they are on an island, that no one knows and understands how frustrated they get with parenting. Neighbors have become a face next door, instead of a friend to rely on. God has become a being that lives above us, watching our every move, but not interacting with us.
In being a parent, I have learned how to examine circumstances in many different views (mainly depending on the child's age that I am talking to). I have learned not to take life for granted, but to enjoy each moment with the joy and happiness I see on my children's faces. I have learned that God is not just "the man upstairs". He is real, and He wants to be an active part of my life. I have also learned that God has given me advice I can use on a daily basis when raising my children:
Do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 (NIV)
Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right. Proverbs 20:11 (NIV)
He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 1 Timothy 3:4 (NIV)
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9 (NIV)
Discipline your son (or daughter), and he (or she) will give you peace; he (or she) will bring delight to your soul. Proverbs 29:17 (NIV)
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:7-11 (NIV)
Although parenting is a challenge, I know that I can rely on the Word of God when I feel like I am failing.
I also know that parenting is very rewarding. When my children first: walked, talked, went to school, learned to read, got baptized, went to high school, I feel proud to be their parent. To see a challenge my children face, and to watch them make decisions based on what they have been taught is also rewarding.
Being a parent is more of a learning experience than I ever thought possible. And I wouldn't change a thing.