As the world matures, develops, changes and adapts, be it socially, economically, politically, environmentally or culturally, everyone is affected in one way or another. Not even children are excluded, and they are most often the casualties of these changes.
Children are often the casualties as the family circumstances and cultural norms become infected on account of these changes. New attitudes emerge and new resources and coping skills have to be formed to counter these changes. Some families fare better than others as people’s inner strengths, spirituality, economic situations, health, communication skills and social constructs differ. How parents handle these developments and changes has a direct effect on how they raise their children.
As with a business or organization, parents have to develop a plan on how they will raise their children. They must have a goal and develop a vision for how they want their children to turn out and raise them to that vision. Successful business people and organizations always set a vision and mission statement, steering in the direction of what they want their business to become in the future, and what they need to do to accomplish the vision. It is to be the same for our children and families.
Irrespective of the changes and developments taking place in our world, this responsibility of parents does not evaporate, but becomes more critical as they need to adapt to the changes. The question we may need to ask ourselves as parents is, ‘what do I want my children to look like and become when they leave my home?’ The reality is that we only have one opportunity with limited time to raise our children to live positive and productive lives independent of us.
Like the business environment which will change due to internal and external factors, so too will the environment for our children change, and it is one over which they have no control. But if we raise them with the right values and vision, they will be better able to make the appropriate adjustments to counter the variances brought on by society. It is what we pack into their lives now as they grow, that will determine how they cope independently of us. I recommend that we pack their lives full of right, wholesome and Godly values.
If we are in any doubt as to what is required of parents, and what an awesome privilege and responsibility that we were given, let us look to scripture for guidance. We shouldn’t take it for granted. It’s an awesome privilege to shape and impact the life of another. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (KJV)
In other words, teach our children the right path, and when they are old, they will remain on it. It is important to recognize that there is a path for each child as no one path fits all. In my view, parents must instil in their minds God’s ways, values and principles of virtue before they receive other teachings or impressions. With these values and principles of virtue seasoned in their minds, it will become second nature to them and a way of life.
One of the things I’ve learnt is that leadership is about influence that positively impacts others, motivating them to surrender to our way of thinking and doing things. It is living by example that will help train our children well. We are to live out the same values and virtues we want our children to embrace. We are to give them love, attention and discipline among other virtues (Proverbs 3:11-12).
Most importantly, we need to impart biblical instructions through our personal relationship with God. As parents’ personal faith in God develops, they will be better able to help their children develop their faith in Him, enabling them to better handle the changes brought on by society. What is our vision for our child/children?
Major Darrell Wilkinson
Chairman, Barbados Christian Council