I have heard it said that if a sense of order and discipline is not established in a child's life before the age of seven, he is lost. I do not know where that pearl of parenting wisdom came from and I'm not even sure I believe the age part - but I think I understand the point that was being made.
Children need the security of consistent boundaries for behaviour to be established early in their lives in order for them to thrive. I'm not sure how the seven-year age limit came into the equation; perhaps it was simply an exaggeration to illustrate the fact that every child needs a sense of order. Fair enough. On that point, I hope most reasonable and reasoned people agree.
Parents must establish and maintain boundaries for proper moral behaviour - boundaries within which they themselves abide. Those boundaries must be consistent with Christian morality because that is the best way to live.
I refuse to accept that a child is ever beyond the pale of redemption because of bad circumstances, poor upbringing or even cruelty. If I did accept such an idea, the redemptive message of Christianity would ring hollow.
The Bible tells us that children are a gift and a heritage from God (Psalm 127.3). Parents do not own their children - they are entrusted with their children's physical, emotional and spiritual care. God calls parents to bring their children up in the way of the Lord.
Do not think that small children are incapable of understanding spiritual things. They may not have the vocabulary or ability to express it, but they can have deeply profound spiritual experiences. We know this from our own memories.
C.S. Lewis put it this way.
“From our own childhood we remember that before our elders thought us capable of “understanding” anything, we already had spiritual experience as pure and as momentous as any we have undergone since, though not, of course, as rich in factual context. From Christianity itself we learn that there is a level—in the long run the only level of importance—on which the learned and the adult have no advantage at all over the simple and the child”
Marriage and family life under the lordship of God are the ideal setting for children. I know this because that is where God put his own Son. The Holy Family was the ideal place to nurture the Christ child.
Godly parents are one of the greatest assets any child can have. A child reared under the love and nurture of godly parents is likely to thrive.
It is not a guarantee that children will grow up to love and serve God—the world can tempt them away—but the chances are best that such children will emerge into adulthood as followers of Christ if their parents were. They are more likely to have a desire to serve rather than be served; they are more likely to view their lives in terms of seeking a higher calling.
I know forces contrary and hostile to Christian faith are everywhere. They may seem overwhelming, but parents must not lose heart. (That is exactly what the evil one wants.) Christian parents must continue teaching and showing the way of Christ to their children.
The love and hope of vibrant and living Christianity can stand in stark contrast to the chaos found in a godless worldview where materialism, consumption and temporary self-gratification often triumph over human dignity and individual worth.
In the midst of worldly consumption, Christ calls people to something different, something greater, something other-centred rather than self-centred. Young people who have been taught to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit can discover the reason they were born. When this happens, they will discover meaning and purpose to their lives that far outstrips anything the world can offer.
We desperately need a generation of young visionaries who are unafraid of being radicals for the kingdom of God and are prepared to dedicate their lives to furthering that kingdom on earth. Young people who are on fire for God can change the world and even the course of history for the better.
Parents can not wish for any greater legacy. — MDP