What Are Parents For?
- Deborah Wuehler Senior Editor of The Old Schoolhouse
- 2013 7 Jul
“Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen” (Deuteronomy 27:16).
Quite an interesting verse—a curse from God Himself is associated with the light esteem of parents. Yet it seems that our society today does just that.
The English phrase setteth light is a translation of the Hebrew word qalah, which means “base, condemn, despise, lightly esteem, set light, seem vile.”1
Have you ever been made to feel like a second-class citizen because you choose to stay home with your children? Judging by that kind of reaction by society today, in which the role of a parent is regarded as one that should be despised or lightly esteemed, and given the fact that parents who embrace parenthood for all it’s worth are made to feel that they are fools, it’s no wonder our children are being farmed out to the lowest bidder.
We have been lied to about parenthood. What has been exalted in its place is self-fulfillment. Instead of raising children up to discover what God has created them to be, we give the kids to nannies, daycares, and public or private institutions to raise, while parents go out and search for the fulfillment of their own dreams. It seems quite backwards. And for the most part, this scenario produces a desolate place where families are falling apart or barely holding on for survival simply because each member within the family doesn’t know his or her own purpose.
The cycle continues as these children grow up and have families of their own, only to continue the search for purpose that they never discovered as a child. Then they push their children out of the home as well, to somehow find out why they are actually here.
In the meantime, our children, who were meant to have parents as their primary educators, are being outsourced to any caretaker who is readily available. But for those who want to get this parenting thing right, and who desire to teach and train their own children, let’s answer the questions of how, what, and why parents should teach their children.
How Should Parents Teach Their Children?
Deuteronomy 6 declares this to be a side-by-side, moment-by-moment instruction. Jesus knew this and taught His disciples by living among them and waking, eating, sleeping, praying, and ministering together. If we are followers of Christ’s example, then this is how we should be discipling our children as well.
What Should Parents Teach Their Children?
I always go back to Psalm 1 when I am not sure where my priorities should be in educating my children:
- “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”
We should teach our children in a set-apart manner so that they are not under the tutelage of the ungodly or fellowshipping with sinners or those who scorn God.
- “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”
We should teach our children that the Word of God and the commandments of God are delightful and worth thinking about all day long, and all night long, and in every subject under the sun.
- “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
We should teach our children that if they want to be successful in any endeavor in life, they must delight in God first, and then God will surely bring forth the fruit He has prepared for them to bear for His glory.
- “The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.”
We should teach our children that if they live a Godly life, they will find stability and be driven by God for His purposes, but those who reject God do not know what they are driven by and don’t know where they are going.
- “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
We should teach our children that the LORD knows their way and it leads to true life on this planet and eternal life on the other side of this planet.
Why Should Parents Teach Their Children?
So that they might live:
Hear ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live (Proverbs 4:1–4).
So that they might be blessed:
The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him (Proverbs 20:7).
Living like the culture lives is not living Biblically or walking in integrity, especially if the majority of the culture is anti-God; therefore our culture’s children will not be blessed after them. It appears that whatever God says to do or to be, the world and the devil say to do or to be the opposite:
- God says children are a reward and blessing; therefore, the enemy says they are a curse or a nuisance.
- God says Biblical instruction is vital to our children’s welfare, so the world and the devil say public education without God is vital to their welfare.
- God says to honor parents, so the world says that parents are not really necessary or worthy of honor.
- God says fathers and mothers are to teach their children wisdom. The world says that fathers and mothers don’t have what it takes to teach their children anything.
Since the world is so confused, we need to keep our eyes on the truth of God’s Word. It would help us to look there and see how God parents His children.
How Does God Parent?
“O Jerusalem...how often would I have gathered they children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:37-38).
Many Old Testament references speak about the shadow or shelter of God’s wings, which provide protection, love, and familial bond. If this is God’s example of parenting, then this is what our parenting is to be like. We must first gather, and then shelter and protect our children. This is what will keep our children’s houses from becoming “desolate.”
God highly values the father-son relationship and refers to such throughout Scripture. Jesus was God’s Son. He is called the Son of God and the Son of Man. In Matthew 1:1 it says Jesus was the Son of Abraham and the Son of David. Jesus identified Himself as the Son of men who were close to His Father’s heart. Men throughout Scripture were identified by who their father or mother was. What kind of importance is put on parents today? Are children identified by who their parents are any more? Mostly, children are taught to be autonomous and then wonder why they don’t fit in anywhere. Many are searching for a true family identity... in any ungodly group that comes their way. This would not be the case if children felt like they belonged in their own homes.
Everybody Else Wants to Be the Parent
Since our culture doesn’t want to follow God’s example of parenting, we are left with parents who are losing their right to actually parent their own children. In fact, everybody else wants to be the parent.
In reference to a legal case involving a homeschooling family being wrongly charged with neglect in the medical treatment of their child, Michael Farris of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) stated: “Parents, not the state or its doctors, have the fundamental, God-given right to choose and direct the medical care that their children receive.”2 You would think this was a given, but we still have to fight for these God-given rights on a regular basis. Why? Because everyone else wants to and believes they can do a better job of parenting your child.
I was just on the phone with my 17-year-old’s doctor, who asked me to hand the phone to my daughter in order to ask her personally about her illness. While the doctor had her on the phone, she asked my daughter several other “routine” invasive questions that were meant to be private between the doctor and the child. Obviously, I was in the way, unnecessary, and worse, made to feel like an intruder in the private world of my teen. What happened to parents talking to doctors about our children and making decisions for our children?
We are becoming a child-led society. We all know what a child-run household looks like—it doesn’t work! To have a child-led society will not work any better either, because it is not God’s design.
Amelia Harper, author of “Are Parents Really Necessary? A Guide to Preschool Education,” wrote the following account after attending a Head Start meeting in her community:
“For nearly two hours, they discussed various issues regarding the health, education, welfare, and success of our tiniest scholars. Then I noticed a remarkable thing: the word parents had barely been mentioned. This got me to thinking, “Are parents really necessary?” If I were a disinterested observer at the meeting, I would certainly conclude that they are not. I would conclude that the government alone had the responsibility to provide for the future of its citizens and that parents were simply accidental providers of a human commodity: the youth of our nation. In fact, from the tone of the speeches, I would conclude that parents were often obstacles to a child’s education and that his greatest chance for success was to be removed from the home as soon as possible and placed in the state’s more nurturing bosom.”
My friend Marla Nowak, who has two children with Down syndrome, expressed similar ideas when she informed me of this important bit of frightening news about her parental rights:
“When our son with Down syndrome was younger, we made a deliberate decision to install extra locks up high on exit doors to prevent our wanderer from leaving the house. We had to decide if other threats from inside the house, like escape during a fire, were more likely than the very immediate threat that our child could walk out the front door in the middle of the night and go who knows where. But personal decisions like this and many other choices such as medical care, education, and financial decisions might be taken away from parents if the U.S. Senate passes the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This includes the decision of where our children should live and with whom. But that is not the worst part of this UN treaty if it passes. Imagine a group of “experts” from places like Iran or China dictating where your children should live, requiring a medical procedure that you know is not best for your child, or determining that your home is not good enough to meet the standards for a son or daughter with a disability. It’s not far-fetched. This CRPD treaty will become a reality in the United States as early as this fall if passed and signed by the President.”3
The parentalrights.org website says this about the danger of losing the freedom of parental decision making:
“Parental Rights face an ever-increasing number of threats in the United States today. Whether through unfriendly court decisions, often-abused federal laws, or over-federalization, the fundamental liberty of parents to make decisions for their child’s best interest is in danger. “
Parents are losing rights on many fronts. In an article by Michael Farris of HSLDA, regarding court cases involving public education, he stated:
...According to the courts, parents’ rights to control the education of their children completely stop at the schoolhouse door. What is the implication for homeschoolers? First, we should be very glad that we have decided to homeschool our children. If any parents still believe that they have a constitutional right to direct their children’s education inside a public school, these cases demonstrate that such a view is a fantasy.4
Where Are We Going?
In Genesis chapter 11, Abraham’s father, Terah, started on the trip to Canaan and made it to Haran before he died, but Abraham completed his father’s journey. God told Abraham to leave and go to Canaan, which is the journey that Abraham’s father had begun. Abraham obeyed God and taught his children after him to obey God.
Perhaps we are somehow like Terah and our kids are like Abraham in that we want our children to run the race and continue the legacy we started and end up in a place of blessing. We can teach our children that we are part of the great timeline of history: First there was Adam and Eve, then Noah, then Abraham, then David, then Jesus, and eventually, our family. Where is our family going? Hopefully, we are following Jesus with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Will our children continue the pilgrimage through this earth to the heavenly Promised Land? That is our prayer. That is the goal of our instruction. That is what we are here for. That is why we have them Home Where They Belong.
2. www.hslda.org/hs/state/mi/201207090.asp, accessed July 18, 2012.
3. To learn more about this issue, visit www.hslda.org/docs/news/2012/201207130.asp and www.hslda.org/docs/news/2012/201205250.asp.
4. www.parentalrights.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC=%7B194D2431-8A6C-4982-8D62-DA1688E5C632%7D&DE, “Has America Abandoned Parental Rights?” by Michael P. Farris, J.D. reprinted from The Home School Court Report (Vol. XXII, No. 4).
Deborah Wuehler is the Senior Editor for TOS, participating author in The Homeschool Minute, wife to Richard, and mom to eight gifts from heaven. She loves digging for buried treasure in the Word, reading, writing, homeschooling, and dark chocolate! You may contact her at senioreditor@TheHomeschoolMagazine.com.
Copyright, 2012. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, August 2012. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.
Publication date: July 5, 2013