Ask Your Preacher
Are there any scriptures in the Bible to give clues as to why parents of multiple children tend to be hardest on the oldest child, and how can we as parents avoid this pattern?
Sincerely, Multiple Children
Dear Multiple Children,
Your question assumes that being “hard” on children is a bad thing. The Scriptures, in fact, seem to emphasize the opposite. There is only one verse that cautions parents against frustrating their children (Col 3:21); provoking children is definitely wrong. Yet there are many, many verses encouraging parents to firmly train up their children in the way of the Lord.
- If we love our children, we chasten them (Pr 13:24).
- Train your child and prepare them for the future (Pr 22:6).
- Don’t withhold spanking your child (Pr 23:13).
- Children that aren’t punished bring shame (Pr 29:15).
- Children are to be taught obedience (Eph 6:1, Col 3:20).
- Parents that discipline are worthy of reverence (Heb 12:9)
This isn’t to say that parents can’t be too hard on kids, but the tendency of society is typically the opposite. We are far more likely to indulge the foolish behavior of children than we are to take the time to train and chasten them. It is inconvenient to raise godly children. The key is to train them based off of the Scriptures and not out of anger or convenience. When the Scriptures are the guide to parenting, we are much more likely to be consistent with all of our children. God is a fair and just parent (Pr 11:1), and the more we study how He disciplines and loves us the better parents we become (Heb 12:6-8).
My daughter died at five years old. Do you know anywhere in the Bible where it says if children grow up or stay children in heaven?
Waiting To See Her
Dear Waiting To See Her,
The Bible doesn’t tell us much about what it will be like in heaven, but we do know that all children go to heaven. When David’s son died, David made it clear that his son was in heaven (2 Sam 12:23). You can have complete confidence that your daughter will be there, too.
We also know that we will have totally different bodies when we get to heaven, and that may affect things with your daughter – after all, a large part of what makes children child-like is their bodies and the growing and learning that accompanies those bodies growing and changing. 1 Cor 15:47-49 says that in heaven, we will have spiritual bodies better suited for eternity. We can’t tell you exactly what your daughter will be like in heaven, but even if she starts out with the spirit of a child, she’ll have eternity to learn and grow just like all the rest of us.
I was reading in the Old Testament about the guy who said he'd kill whatever came out of his house first when he got home from war. Then his daughter came out, and he had to kill her to keep his promise. Does that mean a promise is more important than human life?
Sincerely, Vowing to Find the Truth
Dear Vowing to Find the Truth,
No, what it means is that if you don’t know your Bible, you can do really stupid things – like kill your kid and think you are serving God. The story you are thinking of is Jephthah and his daughter (Judg 11:30-36). Jephthah was one of the judges in Israel. It is important to remember that when the Bible is recounting history, it tells the whole story of man. Just because the Bible says somebody did something doesn’t mean God is condoning it. David committed adultery, Paul killed Christians, Peter denied the Lord, etc. When God recounts history, He even includes the stupid things people do.
Jephthah made a rash vow in promising to kill whatever came out of his door first (Judg 11:31). God tells us that it is a very foolish thing to do (Eccl 5:2). James points out that a wise man bridles his tongue (Jas 3:2), and Solomon points out that even a fool can look wise when he shuts his mouth (Pr 17:28). Jephthah made a ridiculous vow and then made a horrible decision in following through with it.
If only Jephthah had read his Bible! If he had, he would have known the right thing to do. God told people who made rash vows to confess their sin and make a sacrifice to God for their sin (Lev 5:4-6). Instead, Jephthah tried to fix one wrong by committing an even more heinous wrong: murder (Deu 5:17). Jephthah is just another example of how much damage is caused when we don’t learn, study, and live by God’s Word.
Understanding the Godhead seems to be somewhat confusing, and I am wondering when I am explaining something to my child, and he always says, “Jesus did this” or “Jesus did that”, do I just leave it at that, or do I also need to clarify that it is from God as well?
Mom The Educator
Dear Mom The Educator,
Understanding the different roles of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is a difficult concept for most adults to grasp, so it isn’t surprising that children struggle with it as well. The Bible says that parents are to “nurture” their children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4). Nurturing is a process that takes time. As we train our children (Pr 22:6), we start with simple concepts and work toward more complicated ones. If you have a young child, it is wonderful that they simply are thinking about Jesus and spiritual things. As they grow older, you try and teach them more complicated concepts as it seems appropriate.
In short, it is a process. Don’t feel a need to correct your child when they give Jesus credit. They aren’t wrong; they just have more to learn.
This girl and I have been dating for almost eight months, and we truly believe with all our hearts that we are meant for each other; we've even had dreams about each other with kids, too, but her parents won’t give us permission to be together, and her sister is even telling us we’re wrong, but she stared dating even younger than us. The thing is, my girl is scared of getting in trouble. What do we do?
Dear The Guy,
The right thing to do is probably not what you want to hear. Col 3:20 says that it brings joy to God when children obey their parents… that is what you should do. As much as it may be painfully difficult for you two to put your dating and family plans on hold, the right thing to do is to respect her parents’ wishes.
Eph 6:1-3 says that God blesses children when they obey their parents. That means that even if her parents are making the wrong call, you will be blessed by honoring them. God causes all things to work together for good (Rom 8:28), and when you do the hard thing, it inevitably turns out better in the long run.
It sounds like you are surrounded by people that you disagree with, but these people still care about you and have your best interests at heart. Parents and children don’t always see eye-to-eye, so it is an act of faith for children to obey their parents even when they disagree. God will bless you both if you show patience. After all, “not now” isn’t the same as “not ever”.