Decision magazine, a publication of the Billy Graham Association, recently published a manuscript of a sermon Billy Graham delivered in August 1955 by the same title as this post. As I read the message, I would not have known it was delivered before my parents were born. Dr. Graham offered some suggestions to Christian parents that I want to share. The suggestions are copied direction, while the comments following are mine, except in the instance where quotations are used.
Take time with your children. Children spell love “T-I-M-E.” Children long to spend time with their parents, and just being in the same room with this does not meet this requirement. In the busy world that we live in, time with our children is often sacrificed. I admit, there are times when it cannot be avoided; however, I regularly see parents that make choices at their own discretion that keep them from being home with their children. I might also add that having your children do something with you that you want to do but they are forced to do does not fulfill this need.
Many men miss out on this issue, leaving the stuff at home to the wife. This leads to children that long to have their father at home and a wife that longs to have her husband at home. This is a double loss. Men: be home and participate with bath time and bedtime, help with homework, clean up after supper, watch their favorite show, and any other thing that makes you be home.
Plan activities for your children. Again, just being at home is not enough, especially with older children. Dr. Graham said, “Make your home so interesting and delightful that your children will want to stay home; then they will never miss the things that so many young people are engaged in for thrills.” Your children ought to want to be home with you.
Give your children ideals for living. Teach your children right from wrong. More importantly, show them how to live a way that honors God. Many parents teach their children “do what I say, not what I do.” That might work for a while, but as children grow up, they will rebel against such hypocrisy and will begin to follow the example they see. We cannot lead our children to do what we have never done. “Children acquire the characteristics and habits of their parents.”
Discipline your children. The Bible teaches that parents ought to lovingly discipline their children. When parents fail to discipline their children, “you are guilty of not only injuring the moral, spiritual, and physical lives of your children, but of sinning against God. The Bible says that if you fail to discipline your children, you actually hate them.” Parents must also be consistent in their discipline, even when they get tired of responding to the same problems. Quit issuing threatens and start issuing discipline.
Teach your children to know God and bring them up in the church. It is not the church’s job to teach your children about the Lord. The church should partner with the parents to teach their children, but the bottom line responsibility is the parents. “Very seldom do parents have trouble with children when the Bible is read regularly in the home, grace is said at the table, and family prayers take place daily. Most trouble with teenagers comes from children reared in homes where prayer is neglected, the Bible is never opened and church attendance is spasmodic.”
Almost 60 years later, these principles still apply.