Jose Miranda Rocha is professor of theology in Brazil College.

I. Introduction

God's infinite wisdom decrees that certain families should be blessed with children, while others should be blessed without them. When a parent experiences extreme rebellion or hardships in the life of his child, in a weak moment he may question the wisdom of ever having had children. Whereas those without children may give rise to doubts as to why God did not allow these blessings into their lives. God is all-wisdom. Mankind is very finite in wisdom. It therefore becomes necessary for a person to accept God's plan for his life by faith, without any doubt. A child will definitely prove the parent in many areas.

II. The development of children

The parents' role diminishes while the task of the child intensifies in the development process.

A. Birth-infancy. An infant is not born in accordance to its own will. Rather, the parents bear the child because it is their desire. This is a fact that the parent must always keep in mind.

B. Education. The future of the child's responsiveness to the larger world is dependent upon his formal education. From preschool through college, the wise parent guides his offspring from one point of advancement to the next.

C. Puberty. The child's body develops into potential adulthood while he still possesses the mind of immaturity. It is absolutely essential for the parent to have the right attitude about sex and be willing to face the realities of life with the child.

D. Teens. The patience, wisdom, love, and ability of the parent are placed under deep stress. But there is no alternative plan other than that the parent maintains guidance and leadership during this period.

E. Young adults. A parent should guide his young adult offspring through this period with much love and wisdom. It is a challenge to guide young adults on the road of honor and personal integrity.

III. The decisions by children

The role of the parent in the life of the child is awesome, but the child must assume the responsibility of decision-making. The life of the child is directed by his personal decisions —right or wrong.

A. Concerning salvation. A parent may serve as an excellent example with his Christian life. But the actual choice of salvation is left up to the child. It must be a personal decision.

B. Concerning education. The wise parent sees value in education. He may guide his child to a potential career. He may associate himself with institutions of learning. He may offer to finance all of the costs of education. But, if the child does not have an inner desire and motivation, time and money on the part of the parent will be wasted.

C. Concerning society. It is natural for a parent to be concerned with the friendships developed by his child. Are they moral? Do they have good or bad influences on my child? The child will, however, seek out the quality and quantity of friends that he desires. Each person determines his own personal society.

D. Concerning morality. The development of sexual awareness is the concern of most parents for their children. The parent must be straight forward in these matters for himself. Then, he must teach his child the way of biblical morality. Again, the final decision is up to the child.

IV. Directions for children

Though the home is very dependent upon the school (teachers) and the church (ministers) for guidance and direction in the life of the child, the parent is the key. The parent must retain his leadership in the life of the child.

A. Personal worth. Therefore, it is necessary that the parent drills into the heart of the child a sense of personal worth and usefulness. Though other institutions may attempt to do so, the family unit is the ideal place for a child to get the feeling that he belongs.

B. Example. A child learns by example, and parents can be the very best or the very worst. A child needs a real hero to imitate. Blessed is the parent who is willing to pay the price to be his child's hero.

C. Teaching. The education of the child should not be left totally to an institution outside of the home.

D. Guidance. Authority is a must in the life of the child. If a parent does not fulfill his role in this matter, then legal and social authorities may have to do what the parent would not do.

V. Conclusion

Children are valuable to our society and our churches. God uses the child in the home to strengthen its weak points. The parent must be alert to problems and seek to correct them.

VI. Illustration

I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day,
And as my fingers pressed it still,
It moved and yielded to my will.
I came again when days were past -
The bit of clay was hard at last;
The form I gave it, it still bore,
But I could change that form no more.
I took a piece of living clay
And gently formed it day by day,
And molded with my power and art
A young child's soft and yielding heart.
I came again when years were gone—
It was a man I looked upon;
He still that early impress wore,
And I could change him nevermore.

Jose Miranda Rocha is professor of theology in Brazil College.