I was having a conversation with a loved one recently. We were discussing about how parenting has changed. To be a parent today requires divine wisdom.  It appears that parents have become extra sensitive about anything to do with their children especially when it comes to discipline and correction. “Don’t be too harsh.” “Be careful,  don’t scold her.” These are some of the things you hear parents say these days. But it was so very different for us. I know what it was like for me and some of my friends growing up. Slaps were not too far away when we erred. A knock on the head or a twist of the ear were always at hand when we did wrong. Disobedience and disrespect were not familiar.  Rebellion was strange. Sunday church worship, as a family, was compulsory. Sadly, even before the pandemic, that was no longer the case with many families.

We are in the Advent Season when Christians prepare for Christmas which marks the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Our preparation should be more of reflecting on the second coming (or advent, if you like) of Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus is Emmanu-El; GOD WITH US. That means God left His throne on high, His comfort zone, His Majesty, His Excellence,  His opulence, His splendour and came down to earth to dwell with man and to reconcile man to Himself. Jesus was born into the humble family of Joseph and Mary. And I am certain that God knew they would raise Him right. How are we raising our children?  There must have been a lot of discipline in that home because when Jesus became an adult we see how He would always wake up early and go to a quiet place to pray. There must have been intimacy too because we see how Jesus always spent quality time with His disciples. He was definitely well brought up.

Let us be reminded, even at a time like this, that the Christmas shopping frenzy is not the real deal. The real deal is that the Christ child whose birth we are celebrating, is coming again, (and very soon too),  like a thief in the night and no longer as a child. The real deal is that we cannot afford to be careless and reckless with our salvation.  (We must work it out with fear and trembling). The real deal is that we will be held accountable if we let our children slip. “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to fall away – It would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6 Christian Standard Bible

Therefore let us as Christian parents take this parenting job seriously. We are custodians really, God is the parent. (Our Father, who art in heaven. ..) And we must give account of how we bring up our children for Him. Every human being in the world today came from parents. And whatever they have become is largely influenced by what they learnt from home. So what are we teaching the young ones? Are we busy sparing the rod? Are we letting them have their way always?  Are we afraid to correct them? When we do that, we inevitably spoil the child.  “Children just naturally do silly, careless things, but a good spanking will teach them how to behave.”   Proverbs 22:15 Good News Translation

A friend told me about her toddler who never wanted to brush his teeth in the morning let alone at night. But she never let him have his way. It mostly always ended in tears but at least she knew she was helping him build strong gums and healthy teeth. If she let him be, she should be sure of a future filled with all kinds of dental appointments.  We should then pay more attention to our primary assignment. PARENTING!

Parenting is so important to God. Jesus came as a child who was parented by Joseph and Mary. There must have been boundaries in that family. Had they led Him astray, I have no idea where the world would be today.   Had they led Him astray there would have been repercussions for the whole of mankind.  If we let our children be, and they go astray, there will be repercussions. And no parent wants that to happen. “Correction and discipline are good for children. If they have their own way, they will make their mothers ashamed of them.”  Proverbs 29:15 Good News Translation

Without any doubt, some of our children will learn their lessons the hard way if they insist on being rebellious, ( ask the Prodigal Son) but let it not be that they were not taught in the way that they should not depart from.

So as we prepare for Christmas and reflect on the second coming of Jesus, let us appreciate the sacrifice that was made for mankind when God came from heaven to earth into a family just like yours and mine. And purpose in our hearts to be better parents. The days are getting darker and we need to let our lights shine so we point our children in the right direction, just as I believe Mary did.