“I’m Sacrificing For My Children.”

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Recently a BSU security guard told me he was hoping to get a job on a cruise ship, so he’d have more money for his children’s future education. “I will sacrifice for my kids,” he said. I told this to a friend who’s a counseling student and she said, “No, he’s sacrificing his children!” With some 10 million parents working overseas, I’d say this kind of (non) thinking is an epidemic, with serious consequences for children’s mental health and self-esteem, as well as wide-spread devastation to marriages. All for more money, as if money is a substitute for love.

Here’s another common notion, this one about fathering.  My last week’s column was, “You Can’t Get There From Here;” this week’s entry should clarify it.  This notion is, I’m OK as a father if I just provide for the physical needs and education of my children. But fathers everywhere are not successful at being really effective as dads–can’t get there from here—because they lack a clear goal for fathering, and lack a proper starting point. Many fathers leave the child-rearing up to the mother, or worse, go work overseas and leave their children to relatives, if not the mother. (If Mom abandons her little ones to work overseas, it’s even worse.)

So, What was your father like? Was he involved in your life? Or was he absent, perhaps working overseas,  even involved with another family? Or maybe he was working here, but too busy to listen to you, or give you any kind of guidance? Did he leave the parenting up to your mom? Was he irritable and critical, even mean, or was he approachable, one on whose lap you’d love to climb up on, and feel his strong arms around you? What did he show you or teach you about God, and how to relate to Him?

Men—young men, middle age, or old (like me), was your dad a role model with whom you could identify? As I look at these questions for myself, I have to say that I had difficulty identifying with my dad; he was often irritable and fault-finding, fought childishly with my oldest sister, and was hard to respect, until way late in life. Because of this, and my own sinful heart, I failed to honor him as a father, and this led to not listening to him when he gave me advice, which led to other failures in my relationships, even failures as a father. (But the Lord was merciful; a minister pointed out that my failures were on the Cross, as well as my sins, and so because of Easter I could go forward and help other people with similar struggles. This has happened hundreds and hundreds of times. See Romans 8:28.)

(From an online source, “Related Media.”)

“The role of mom is pretty well recognized by everyone (including the secular world) as vital to the family, but for some reason fathers have been relegated to the position of second class citizen. . .. A well known feminist leader has gone so far as to say, ‘fathers are a biological necessity, but a psychological absurdity.’

“From the standpoint of God’s word and the evidence of a great deal of research that has been done recently, such a statement is an absurdity. Dads have a vital role in bringing strength and stability to the home. Actually, both mom and dad bring ingredients into the home that are crucial to the spiritual and emotional stability of the home. Together they bring a blend of femininity and masculinity which in many ways reveal the image of God. (Emphasis mine.) These two influences together, especially when they are the product of godly parentage, are vital forces in shaping spiritually and psychologically healthy children. (A psychologist, Paul Vitz, made a study of atheists, and found that almost every one of them had a poor or non-existent relationship with their fathers—HPK.)

“Scripture and history show us that as goes the home, so goes the society. And generally speaking–as go the fathers, so goes the home. The moral and spiritual condition of the society is always the offspring of the family.

“William Wordsworth wrote, “The child is father of the man,” meaning the experiences which occur in the early and formative years of a child’s life, the experiences of home, shape the character and behavior of tomorrow’s adult. And as that is true of the individual, so it becomes true of an entire society including, of course, its leadership. Note the emphasis of this Psalm:

“Psalm 127:1: Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it.

You’ve probably heard people say: “My wife and I have agreed that we don’t want to force our religion on the children. We want them to be free to make up their own minds about matters as important as that.” This may sound wise or sophisticated, but it is sheer nonsense! There can be no religious neutrality in a home because neutrality about God is itself a form of religion–an anti-God religion. If neutrality is the attitude of parents it will become the religion of their children. Most thoughtful people see the stupidity of bringing up children with an “open mind” about things like school, but fail to apply the same saneness of thought to knowing God.

“Most thoughtful parents, by contrast, want their children to know about God and moral living. But somehow in the hustle and bustle of life, they never get a chance to take stock of where such training will come from. They think if they send them to Sunday School that will do it, but that involves only one hour out of 168 hours in a week. But there is a place that has a great deal more impact than any other in society due to the dynamics involved–if those dynamics are utilized. Where is that place? It’s the home–the place where life makes up its mind.

“Psalm 78 addresses the importance of the home and the vital role of parents, especially fathers:

Listen, O my people, to my instruction; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.  I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,  Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us.  We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.  For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should teach them to their children,  That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children,  That they should put their confidence in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments,  And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart, And whose spirit was not faithful to God. 78:1-8”.

Yes, oh security guard, sacrifice for your children: Not your presence, so vital for their spiritual and emotional well being, but your ideas about fathering as being simply a money provider. And learn to trust in and obey Jesus, who cares for you more than the lilies of the field and the birds in the air (Matt. 6: 25-34), and obeyed His Father to the point of praying, Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit. “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” (Prov. 3:6).

Notice of disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Exherald Publishing Incorporated (Herald Express) or its Editors. Exherald Publishing Incorporated completely gave the author the sole responsibility to obtain the necessary permission to use and reproduce copyright material from other sources used in this work. Any unauthorized use of such copyright material in this work was at the sole discretion and option of the author.

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