Question & Answer Forum

How can a young couple balance a busy life and the care of their children?

The value the world apparently places on children differs from the Lord’s in Psalm 127:3: “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord.” A child is potentially the greatest heritage a couple will leave behind them. Viewing children in that light elevates the priority of nurturing them in God’s truth. Rather than a heritage of money or renown, parents whose child loves and lives God’s truth have left a wealthy heritage. The child has true riches; the coming generation is richer; the work of God prospers.

Personal interaction with a child in which the parent models God’s character and mentors the child in God’s truth is time well spent. Many things that clamor for our time will pass away unnoticed. This child is a God-given responsibility and opportunity.

Allowing a child to manage his parents’ time will likely spoil him. Providing time for a child’s spiritual, moral, social, and mental development will likely enrich him.

It may be a very trying experience for a couple if the Lord doesn’t entrust them with a child. It may involve deep trials and disappointments if He does. Nothing parents can do will guarantee a child’s salvation or spiritual enrichment, but a parent can increase the likelihood of these blessings. The best parents fail to some degree. How wonderful to be able to commit a child to God in prayer! We always expect the best from Him.

D. Oliver

Should young Christian families use TV and videos as a baby sitter?

With television about as common in the home as electricity and running water, suggesting that children grow up without it sounds hopelessly archaic. Nevertheless, “mine eye affecteth my heart” (Lamentations 3:51) expresses a principle. Even if parents were to effectively control the programming, the blatant materialism, violence, and suggestiveness of the advertising is detrimental. Television offers some valuable content. Its liabilities seem to outweigh its value.

While videos can likewise be harmful, they offer valuable content. With appropriate choices, parents can provide historical, scientific, geographic, and spiritual material through videos.

None of this, however, is a substitute for the value of a developing relationship between the child and his parents. Solomon remembers and values his personal relationship with both his mother and father in Proverbs 4:3. To habitually fill a child’s hours with a replacement for parenting is misguided. The parental relationship is especially important for a young child; it’s the foundation for the teen years.

D. Oliver

What can Christian parents do to help their wayward, rebellious teenagers?

Keep the relationship. Maintain communication and affirm your unchanged love. The child knows your standards; nagging will destroy communication.

The Lord (Isaiah 1:2) and the prodigal’s father (Luke 15:13) had wayward, rebellious children. Combining these two illustrations provides several suggestions:

1. Continue to communicate as positively as possible (as God did through Isaiah).

2. Expect, long for, and plan for the best (as in both cases). “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man [and his wife] availeth much” (James 5:16).

3. Refrain from dwelling on and nagging about the negative (as when the prodigal returned).

4. Allow a mature child to make his choices and live with the results. Sheltering him from the results of his choices is counterproductive (as in both cases).

5. Don’t compromise your own standards (God remains the “Holy One of Israel” in Isaiah).

6. When confrontation is necessary, plan to express yourself effectively ONCE (as in Isaiah).

7. Keep the door open for a gracious welcome (as the prodigal’s father).

Two points contrast with both illustrations:

1. Only one parent is in view, but each parent must maintain a united purpose and effort.

2. We are failing parents. Honest admission of our limitations may help reduce resistance to our parenting. Submission to the Lord in the circumstances will help us to learn more of His heart’s longings for us and others who wander from Him. As heartbreaking as the experience is, in the Potter’s hand it can make us more like our Father and more effective as parents.

D. Oliver

Is matchmaking helpful, wise, and Scriptural?

No. Cultural means of bringing a man and woman together differ widely. Our Western ways wouldn’t countenance a father’s sending his servant to find a wife for his son, as Abraham did for Isaac. As different as that scenario was, the common denominator is in the servant’s words, “I being in the way, the Lord led me” (Genesis 24: 27). The most important factor in bringing believers together is God’s leading. Matchmaking is God’s work. He is much wiser and more able in this work than we. Better than parents and closest friends, He knows what matching personality will most effectively contribute to His plans for each one.

Well-intentioned matchmakers may injure one or both of the “matched” individuals. The more God-honoring approach is to pray faithfully for both the man and woman involved.

D. Oliver