Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Five Duties of Children to Parents

Note:  We continued our Sunday afternoon series on Christian family last Lord's Day at CRBC with a message on The Duties of Children to Parents.  Here are my notes (sorry for the spacing issues in the text [no spaces between some paragraphs, etc.]--for some reason Blogger is not cooperating with my editing changes):

The Duties of Children to Parents
Exodus 20:12
CRBC May 6, 2012
The Christian family series continues:
What are the Biblical duties and obligations of children to parents?
Though there are universal elements in these duties, we are speaking in particular of the duties of those who are Christians toward their parents.
Five Duties of Children to Parents:
1.      Children have the duty of honoring and respecting father and mother.
This is, of course, the essence of the fifth commandment, which has first place in the second table of the law, governing man’s duty to his fellow man.
The principle embedded in this commandment goes beyond familial duties.  As the catechism points out, it “requires the preserving the honour, and performing the duties belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.”  It thus calls not only on the disposition of children toward parents, but also employees toward their supervisors, church members to their officers, and citizens to their magistrates.
 
Children are to show this honor in a respectful attitude toward their parents.  They are to speak respectfully to their parents.  One way this is evidences is by using “sir” and “m’am” when addressing parents and other elders.  They are to listen to their parents when they are spoken to by turning in the direction of their parents with an open and receptive posture.  They are not to speak ill publically of their parents or to publically disagree with their parents, though they might certainly seek private entreaty in cases where there might have been injustice or disagreement or need for further understanding.
In the OT, perhaps the premier example of a child dishonoring a parent is the rebellion of Absalom against his father David.  Compare, however, David’s lament at the death of his rebellious son:
KJV 2 Samuel 18:32 And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is. 33 And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!
A child can bring a parent great joy or he can break a parent’s heart. 
The basketball coaching legend John Wooden told of visiting a star recruit.  The young man was terribly rude to his parents. In the end Wooden did not offer the young star a scholarship.  His reasoning, “If he could not be respectful to his parents, then he most likely would not be respectful toward me as a coach.”
2.      Children have the duty of obeying father and mother.
In the household codes of the NT, the operative term that is used to describe the appropriate disposition of a child to the parent is obedience:
Ephesians 6:1:  “Children, obey (hupakouo) your parents in the Lord for this is right.”

Colossians 3:20:  “Children, obey your parents in all things:  for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”

Again, it has been rightly said that delayed obedience is disobedience.  This is the problem with the modern disciplinary method of “counting to three.”  It teaches that obedience may be delayed.  We should teach our children from an early age quickly to obey.  As a child grows older, into the teen years, it is not inappropriate for a child respectfully to seek explanation and reasoning on any command they might not understand or need to clarify.  But this should only be done respectfully and with a spirit of, “Yes, I will do what you ask, but I would seek this clarification.”
Note, however, that in Ephesians 6:1 Paul says that this obedience is to be “in the Lord.”  Just as a wife is not called to submit to a husband in unlawful and ungodly actions, so a child is not bound to obey parents in such actions.  Years ago when I worked at a summer boys’ camp, we had a child who through tears told us that his father would ask him to get on his bike and ride to a place to get drugs for him.  He was asking if he had to obey his father in this.  We told him, No, and we told our camp director of this who shared it with the church leaders who had brought this boy to the camp.
Perhaps the most vivid Scriptural picture of a child’s lawful unconditional obedience to a parent is in Genesis 22 when Isaac obeys the command of his father Abraham and is bound to the altar ready to be sacrificed, anticipating the obedience of Christ to the will of his Father on the cross.
3.     Children have the duty of listening to the counsel of father and mother.
It has often been said that one’s parents get wiser and wiser the older you get.
A wise child will realize that he has much to learn from the counsel of his parents.
This is the setting for the entire book of Proverbs which begins, “My son, hear the instructions of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (1:8).
The book of Proverbs generally affirms the wisdom of seeking counselors.  Proverbs 11:14 notes that “in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
A wise child will seek the counsel of his parents in his education, vocational calling finances, marriage prospects, etc.  Of course, when he marries a son leaves the household of his mother and father and establishes his own household, seeking the counsel of his wife, even over that of his parents.  Still, even after marriage he can see his parents as valuable resources.  Certainly, in the best circumstances, the parents are to be a spiritual resource and example to children. 
4.     Children have the duty of caring for father and mother in their old age.
The Bible was, of course, written before the days of the social safety net.  The burden of care for aging parents from a Biblical perspective is not the duty of the state but of the children.  We are to do this to the degree that providential circumstances will allow.
Compare some of Paul’s teaching on care for widows:
KJV 1 Timothy 5:3 Honour widows that are widows indeed. 4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
 He then adds:
KJV 1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
 When you become a parent you realize how much your parents did for you.  In the natural process of time, the tables begin to turn and you may be given opportunity to serve them even as they served you.
5.     Where there have been failure and breaches, children have the duty of understanding and forgiving father and mother.
Part of personal emotional and spiritual maturity is coming to the realization that your parents were not perfect and perhaps did not do all perfectly in your upbringing and yet extending to them forgiveness and grace.
This is certainly not to whitewash the experience of those who went through real abuse.  Sometimes full reconciliation cannot ever be achieved.
But in ordinary circumstances the disposition of children toward parents should be one of grace even in their parent's faults.  Compare:
KJV 1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
KJV Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
One of the best examples I have seen of this is in the book Troubled Journey by Faith Cook.  In the book Cook writes about her life as a missionary child in war-torn China, including many of the hardships the family endured as her parents pursued their service along the line of Hudson Taylor’s philosophy that the needs of family had to be sacrificed on the altar of missionary service.  Shortly after the death of one of her brothers, Cook was left in a boarding school while her parents returned to China.
She notes that her father’s commitment to mission work “was all consuming:  at times almost obsessive in character” (p. 97).  She adds that to understand her parent’s decision one must realize “the ethos in which it was made.  An immense value was placed on this sort of sacrifice by the Christian community in general and it was viewed as honourable and highly commendable” (p. 97).  She reflects:  “These men and women felt they were offering up to their God their ‘Isaacs’—their most valued possession—as indeed they were; but sadly, the question they did not address was whether God required such sacrifices” (pp. 97-98).
As Cook completes the story of her childhood, she relates the long distance letter writing relationship and infrequent contact she had with her parents throughout her teenage and college years.  She notes that her “unsettled childhood, sheltered school environment, and now the loss of any stable home base” left her “ill-prepared for the cold realities of the adult world” (p. 112).  Despite the hardships, however, Cook also points to the Lord’s gracious provision throughout the experience.  She went on to marry, to become a pastor’s wife, and to raise her own family.  In the conclusion, Cook reflects:  “It had indeed been a troubled journey for both my brother and me, but as I look back over the path I have traveled, I can see now see that despite the undoubted sufferings through which we had both passed—unnecessary sufferings in many respects— God has supported, protected, and added unexpected provisions for our needs along the way.  Even the sufferings themselves have proved to be part of God’s design for my life” (p. 116).
I think Cooke models here the Biblical attitude of a child to parent.  Not whitewashing or excusing all, but honoring.

22 comments:

Angie said...

what i can say, is that also children has a duty to love their parents and be thankful to them whenever,they provide them with what they want.

Pastor Jeff said...

I think all would agree that children should love their parents and express gratitude to them. It should be noted, however, that the in the household codes Paul does not say, "Children, love your parents" but "Children, obey your parents..." (Eph 6:1; Col 3:20).

JTR

Anonymous said...

How does any of this relate to adoptive children?

Pastor Jeff said...

Anon,

I think it applies to an adopted child just as it does to natural children with regard to their (adopted) parents.

If you are asking whether adopted children still have duties toward their natural parents, I think that might depend on the circumstances. I know that in some "open" adoptions children will continue a relationship with their natural parents. Of course, this must be handled with prudential wisdom. Generally, however, adopted children have these duties toward the those who have actually served as their parents (i.e., those who adopted them)rather than to their biological parents.

JTR

Zeena Pinto said...

What shold a child do when her parents do not treat their children equally

Pastor Jeff said...

Zeena,

If a child thinks that his or her parents are not treating all children in the family equally, then it is the child's duty to humbly bring this to the attention of the parents. The child should share his concerns. With clarification he might find that his assumption was wrong. Parents are not perfect,however. They make mistakes. They sin. If this is humbly called to their attention, perhaps they will address the situation and make things right.

If this is a real problem and parents continue to treat children unfairly, this might just be a trial or cross that the child who lack their partiality will have to bear with God's help. At the least it provides a negative example of what the child does not want to do with his own children when he becomes a parent.

Hope this helps.

JTR

lusajo mwamakula said...

at what age a parent can teach a child about body change(puberty stage)

Pastor Jeff said...

Lusajo,

Thanks for the question. I am not sure there is a "one size fits all" answer for this question.

Parents should be teaching their children about their bodies and health from the very beginning. When we notice they are entering into puberty, it will be especially important to speak to them plainly (with girls specifically about menstration and with both boys and girls about changes to their bodies, sexuality, etc.). I think, however, that we should be careful not to follow the world's ways in exposing children to ideas and issues that are too mature for them. The most important thing is to develop such a relationship with your children that they will approach you with their questions. This is one of the great things about home education if you are able to do it.

Hope this helps, Pastor Jeff

Anonymous said...

I Think also that children need to help their parents in doing or perporming the household chores. Do not consider or treat your parent as your "katulong" or nanny or janitor in your house. Clean your own mess and try to observe cleanliness and help without hesitation or murmoring.

Kathleen Jang said...

But.. What mainly is the duties and responsibilities of a child except about parents.. Like about their younger siblings or younger cousins or elder ones like their grandparents.. Like.. What are the responsibility of a child in beeing a child?

Pastor Jeff said...

Kathleen,

I agree that the duties of children extends beyond duties only to their parents. I think all their (and our) duties are encompassed in the 5th commandment.

Go to our church's sermonaudio site (sermonaudio.com/crbchurch) and search for messages on the 5th commandment. There is also a message there about encouraging brothers and sisters in a family to become life-long friends.

JTR

Anonymous said...

but now..days..i see that parents doesnt give much importance to girl child..why is that so..evryone shuld have equal rights?

Pastor Jeff said...

Anon,

Thanks for the comment. Yes, there are some cultures and situations in which girls are valued less than boys. This happens due to sin. Boys and girls are both image-bearers (Gen 1:27). In general wherever Biblical Christianity has had an influence the result has been greater human rights and wider respects for all persons.

JTR

Anonymous said...

children have a massive responsibility in a good Cristian family and a bond between the family is key to achieving this

Anonymous said...

The love is key to being a good family. Well unfortunately, not all
families have a bond like that or not strong like it

Anonymous said...

all children should be disciplined as it brings peace to the parents and it calms them.

opeyemi said...

This Web is good it helps me as a child not to disobey my parent and not act bad to my parent

Unknown said...

We should help and love our children then they will do anything for us

Anonymous said...

why, If I give everything to my children then their still (badlongon).

Unknown said...

Well said : children are to obey their parents, equally so they are to be understanding as it regards to who or what their parents are. I do have a situation with my parents also, but least I can do is to obey them and look up to God for directions.

Pauline Kangar said...

Well said : a child has to obey his parents, equally so he has to be understanding as it regards to who or what his parents are. Regardless the situation, he has to obey.. Sometimes we go through situation from our parents, nevertheless that I'd God's plan for our lives.. All we can do is to humbly ourselves as a child and look up to God for directions.

Anonymous said...

All of this raises questions where do children fit into the family order? How are we supposed to view them? What are their requirements and privileges within the family?