TV boredomI am not talking about birthdays or Christmas,of course. The gifts that our offspring receive on these days are special, I am sure, and we enjoy giving them, do we not. God’s word tells us that when temporal earthly gifts will fade and tarnish (or simply break) or their attractiveness diminishes (that dreaded phrase, “I’m bored”), we realize as parents that the love behind the giving of the gift is more meaningful and lasting than the gift itself. As with every aspect of parenthood, we ought to base our dealings with our children with how God deals with His children. Christ tells us that God delights in giving gifts to His spiritual children, and that these gifts are better than the earthly gifts we (sinful creatures with corrupted hearts) would give to our children.

Matthew 7:11

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

What is so special about the gifts that God gives His children? He gives them spiritual gifts, offers them guidance and teaches them lessons that they need to stay on the narrow road that leads to heaven, where they will spend eternity and never tire of praising and worshiping Him in all His glory. As parents we need to ask ourselves,

Do we give our children that which is beneficial for their souls?

In a British newspaper yesterday I read two reports on the detrimental effects modern life is having upon our children. In attempting to surmise why children today are so unhappy the newspaper article reported:

‘Research for the society found that almost twothirds of parents are not able to spend enough time with their children and half feel forced to put their career before family life. They are increasingly turning to day care while their offspring are still young even though more than a third believe pre-school children suffer if their mothers work. More than a third of parents find it difficult to meet their family responsibilities because of the time they spend at work. One child surveyed reported feeling ‘lonely’ and having nothing to do but play on the computer and watch TV because their parents were either arguing or working……..It follows a damning UNICEF study which found British children are the unhappiest in Europe and put much of the blame on the breakdown of family life.’

Another article in the same paper points out that although, ‘Our homes are crammed with labour-saving devices and electronic entertainment that previous generations couldn’t even dream of’, we are experiencing an increase in child unhappiness and behavioural problems. This article does not mention sin, the universal problem that explains the unhappiness and behavioural problems experienced by this world, but it does reveal a major symptom of sin – society’s desire to turn it’s back on God’s design for the family:

‘We’ve come to believe that 21st century children are different from children in the past – that they can get by with less parental time and attention, skip stages in their development and cope with pressures and emotional burdens children shouldn’t have to cope with.

For Christians these articles should not come as a surprise, considering the utter contempt shown for God’s ways and His guidance. The challenge to Christian parents is to forge out family life (in a world that has turned its back on this bedrock of society) that gives our children the time and attention they need, not just for their emotional development, but also for their spiritual development. That is a gift they will benefit from and cherish until the end of life on earth, and by God’s grace throughout eternity with their heavenly Father.

Deuteronomy 6 v 5-7

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”