“I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the father taught me.”
As parents we have a huge obligation and responsibility to our children. Whether we like it or not we are act as role models for our children. Children have a great capacity to sponge up information – both good and bad. They have the ability to mimic their parents’ behaviour. Thus, in this way, children begin to form an understanding of the world around them and what is or is not important. Yes, children are like plasticine to be moulded by parents into whatever that parent wishes their child to be and each one of us as parents must recognise this.
Even when children grow up, the effects of the lessons that they learn from their parents will continue with them throughout their life. Sometimes, those lessons will recede into the background and perhaps dormant for a time, however they never totally disappear and will re-emerge whether they like it or not.
Yes parents have a great responsibility before God and to each other to ensure that they bring up their children to be good citizens. But citizens of which kingdom? Christ says you are of this world but he is not of this world. Christ belongs to a heavenly kingdom and there is no doubt that such kingdom is infinitely superior to the kingdoms of this world. Thus our aspiration as parents should be Christ’s kingdom. Our inspiration as parents should be Christ’s kingdom. Our actions as parents should be based upon ensuring our children attain Christ’s kingdom.
How do we as parents establish this foundation in our children? The answer, at first instance, is simple. We bring our children to church and get them to experience something of what it means to be a child of God and member of his church. You may of course say that the language of the church is archaic and not capable of being understood by children whose first language is English. You now know that, at least in our parish, this argument is no longer sustainable. Every Saturday between 5 PM to 6:15 PM our parish offers the Divine Liturgy in the present day English language. Further, the text of the liturgy is available to be followed together with a copy of the Epistle and gospel reading of the day. Claiming to lack a capacity to understand the word of God is no longer a valid excuse. If we want our children to love Christ then they need to understand Christ. Our purpose as parents must be to bring our children to hear the word of God. If we do not impress upon them the love of Jesus at an early age how can we expect them to understand this in adult life? If we do not do our duty to our children then why do we express surprise when our children leave the church and forget God?
Therefore let us all aim to be citizens of the heavenly kingdom. If we lead our children to Christ then we, as parents, must be in Christ ourselves. Thus, in imitating the behaviour of Christ we give our children the best role model that they can have and the greatest impetus to become heavenly citizens. If we can save our children by leading them to recognizing Christ as being the son of the heavenly father then we have achieved our goal as parents. We have done our best for our children as parents and we have made our children citizens of the heavenly kingdom.