One of the most challenging tasks confronting parents is that of instilling within their children a proper set of values. This makes parenthood a tremendous responsibility for such values will provide them with motivation and guidance throughout their lives (Prov. 22:6). Parents should neither neglect this challenge nor start too early to accomplish it.
The General Basis for All Values
There is no better basis for selection of values upon which to base our own or our children’s lives than the two principles Jesus suggested in Matthew 22 as the great commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (v. 37). “You shall love your neighbor as your self” (v. 39).
These two principles form the basis of the Law and the instruction of the prophets and a proper set of values which will enable us and our children to live profitably before God and with our fellow man. Using them as a basis will enable us and our children to meet the lofty ideals God has set for us. But we must first be living by them ourselves before we ever attempt to teach them to our children.
It is important to reinforce our teaching with example. As our children see these values exemplified in our lives, they will want to duplicate them in their own lives.
Some Values We Should Instill Within Our Children
Children ought to have a proper perspective on the value of education. A well-rounded education is important, yet, knowledge of the word of God is most valuable. Sadly, some Christians instill within their children the concept that worldly attainment and knowledge is more valuable than spiritual knowledge. During the school year Bible class teachers are confronted with parental encouraged absences from Bible study with the excuse, “Junior just had to get his homework.” Such permissiveness on the part of parents teaches children that their earthly education is of more value than a spiritual one. Children need to learn that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7).
Children ought to be taught to select careers which will facilitate faithfulness to God. Children must learn to recognize the importance of the decision of what one chooses to do with his/her life. Congregations everywhere suffer because too many who claim to be Christians become involved in the pursuit of a career and leave no time for serving God. Church growth cannot help but suffer. But the biggest problem is that one who focuses more on the “here and now” will soon be drawn away by it and their love for it and become apostate.
Parents must instill within children the importance of building their future as God’s servants. Nearly all parents plan for the secular futures of their children but how much emphasis is placed on preparation for their futures in the kingdom of God? While many encourage their children to be doctors, lawyers, etc., how many encourage their children to plan on being deacons, elders, preachers and Bible class teachers. Do your children see in you a high regard for service to God and the work of the church or do they see parents who are apathetic and uninvolved in the good works one is to be doing in Christ (Eph. 2:10; Titus 2:14)?
How to Instill Proper Values in Children
1. Begin regular spiritual training in their first year of life and continue consistently through all their developing years (Prov. 22:6).
2. Demonstrate to them at all times that God is the most important thing in your life.
3. Let their earliest memories include daily readings of Bible stories and frequent discussions of the word of God.
4. Give them their own Bible even before they can read. Have them begin a lifetime habit of regular memorization and review of important Bible verses.
5. Teach them to pray.
6. Have regular “devotional” times as a family and speak often to your children of the joys of serving God.
7. Spend the necessary time to be the main spiritual teacher of your children — more so than the preacher or Bible class teacher, etc. Remember, you have the primary responsibility of teaching your children the ways of the Lord.
8. Teach them that lying is one of the worst things they could ever do.
9. Train them early in principles of modesty.
10. Keep their speech pure by not allowing yourself or them to ever use profanity.
11. Help keep their minds pure by monitoring their reading and viewing materials and personal friendships closely in their early years (1 Cor. 15:33).
12. Be responsible enough to bring up the subject of sex and morality with your children. They will either learn about it from you or from the world.
13. Instill in your children a strong desire to save themselves for the one who will someday be their mate.
14. Reinforce your moral teaching by setting specific guidelines for dating.
15. Train your children to date only those who are morally upright and urge them to plan on marrying a Christian.
16. Teach them the virtue of work by giving them regular jobs and responsibilities around the home.
17. Train them to never get too busy with secular pursuits to do something for the Lord’s cause.
18. Encourage them often to plan the future of their lives to include a “career” for Christ (Bible class teacher, song leader, preacher, deacon, elder, elder’s wife, deacon’s wife, etc.).
19. Build a family life in such a way that “home” is a happy place.
20. Be the kind of child your heavenly Father would have you to be. You will not only be pleasing God but will be the kind of parent who will be able to place within the hearts of your children the principles and values of Scripture.
If we want our children to grow into faithful, active Christians, we must begin with our examples, reinforcing them with our teaching and encouragement and then continue, prayerfully, to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).