God's special words to parents - Matthew 18:6 - "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Because children are incredibly perceptive, they usually pick up more from what parents do than what they say. Often without even realizing it, parents are modeling values and habits that have tragic effects on their children's development. Training up a child in the way he should go is more about daily example than occasionally sharing religious words.
Questions for Reflection: Parent, do you model excitement and joy about worshiping God? Do you consistently express love for Christ's Church or a negative complaining attitude? If your children are expressing a negative attitude toward God and His church, you may need to take a serious look at the attitudes you actually model before them.
Parents, do you lovingly and consistently communicate with each other? Do you consistently take time to talk to your children? Do you really listen when your children talk to you? Do you respond with love and understanding or quickly become angry? If your children are pulling away from you, ask God to reveal ways you may have caused it.
Parent, do you model moral purity by the things you talk about? Have you demonstrated holiness by the things you watch or read? Have you consistently communicated God's standards concerning sex and marriage to your children? Do you communicate in a way that reveals understanding about their temptations and struggles? Have you been approachable and loving? If your children are moving towards immorality, ask God if there are ways you should examine your example. If they won't talk to you, ask God if you've contributed to the barrier. Parent, do you consistently model honesty and respect for others? Do you break speed laws or cheat on taxes? Have you demonstrated the ability to readily admit your own sins and failures? Do you readily admit your sins or do you make excuses? If your children are demonstrating tendencies toward cheating or lying, you should seriously examine your own example.
Parents, by no means do I suggest that children's problems are automatically a result of parental failure. In fact, Satan often heaps false guilt on parents. However, as parents we must face the awesome power of our example. May God give us the honesty to fully confess ways we have harmed our children by attitude and example.
In many cases, parents will need to ask forgiveness of their children (even older or adult children). Such loving honesty will have an enormous healing effect on strained parent - child relationships. Some of the above questions were drawn by permission from A Christian Parent's Checklist by Shelia Jones (Email address SJonesAZ@aol.com)
As we confess and forsake our sins and failures as parents, let us ever place our sole trust in the Father of all fatherhood, the "author and finisher of our faith." (Hebrews 12:2)