Influence of Family Examples

Dear BPCWA worshipper, Last week, I wrote about what I covered at the Family Seminar. I hope that every married couple, grandparent, and parent has watched the video on our YouTube channel by now. I wonder if there are some parents who, in their minds, may be thinking “Is that really so?”. On the other hand, there may be some who may feel that as long as the children are taught “what is right”, the children will make the right choices, irrespective of what the parents do. Will that certainly happen?

What even the world knows. To say that the family’s life does not affect the child is to simply be in self-denial. While we do not believe or disbelieve something simply because research bears it out but simply based on what the Bible teaches, we do see that numerous secular studies do inescapably agree that families do affect children. Studies validate that the family structure does have an impact on the well-being of the children. Children growing up in a dysfunctional environment either learn to follow their parents’ examples, or, by God’s mercies, resolve to never follow such poor parental examples. It is difficult to undo what is “seen” being practiced by the parents, even if attempts are made later to “undo” many years of inculcation. A case in point is China’s one-child policy. After years of enforcing this in families, the current generation of young adults has only grown up with a one-child family as a norm. Now, it is trying to promote a three-child family. A news article well summarised the reaction of those the government is trying to encourage as – “Generations of Chinese people have lived without siblings and are used to small families – affluence has meant less need for multiple children to become family-supporting workers, and young professionals say they’d rather give one child more advantages than spread their income among several kids.” Undoing is difficult.

What our children are learning at homes. But my concern is what children are learning in our homes. With the preaching at church and for those who have gone through pre-marital counselling with me, I believe that most, if not all, parents in BPCWA are not unaware of what God expects of marriages as it is taught unapologetically from our pulpit, in pastorals, and through our Bible studies. But the voice and example of parents echo unmistakeably loud in the minds of our children. In my years in the ministry, I have seen children who were open and were responding well to what they were learning in church, and growing spiritually. But their parents were unhappy with the church or disagreed with what was taught, and did not make attempts to hide it in church. As expected, this inevitably spread to their families at home. Before long, their once eager children grew cold to coming for fellowships and were unreceptive to the teaching of God’s Word at church. They were not young children with no means of transport of their own and too young to make their own choices. Some of these children left with their families but what is telling is that a number actually stopped coming even well before their parents left the church. The iniquity of the fathers (and/or mothers) had settled well into the bosoms of the children when they were old enough to make their own choices. The teaching received – by those who left and the many who have remained in church – were the same. But the home environment made the difference in their children’s choices.

What our children may compromise in. So, you may say that your children totally understand what is wrong and has Biblical convictions, despite what they see at home. You may even have explained to them very honestly that what you’re doing is wrong. Does that mean that they won’t sin the same sin? Children who see fathers failing to lead spiritually in family worship will likely not see the importance when they are married. Children who see their parents lose their tempers easily will feel that even unrighteous anger is justified and acceptable. Children who see their mothers’ strong will directing what the family should do instead of submitting to the father’s leading will learn to find a “valid” excuse to do as they wish. Children who see their fathers work at FIFO jobs are also less likely to see an absent parent as something that is “bad” and evil. Children who see their mothers work, for example, are more likely to put having a job above having children and also be agreeable to mothers holding a job. Many Christian children may know the Biblical teachings and principles and even have some correct convictions. But in their hearts, especially if they feel that nothing very bad had happened despite their parents’ open disobedience, they will feel “justified” not to have to keep God’s word with all diligence and fully. They will learn pragmatism – the Bible’s way is “ideal”, but there is the “real world” out there that makes it “justifiable” for us not to be that strict with our obedience.

The point is, “because it has been done in my family, I will give in to the temptation as well”. Unless parents show, by example, that disobedience to God is absolutely unacceptable, the child will most likely see ignoring God’s Word as not a serious evil that he will shun at all cost. Parents who continue in known sin have deprived their children of a good role model in the family that they too can follow in their own families.

Parents, ultimately, the most effective way of learning in a child’s life is by seeing what and how their parents live. You excuse yourselves and your sin, and your children will learn to do that. After all, it’s not that bad… or is it?

Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name, 19 Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jer 32:18-19).

Yours in our Lord’s service,