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Guest column: Take time as a family to love, teach children
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The week of Nov. 18 is National Family Week. Our community joins the nation in honoring its families. And rightfully it should.

Families are the stabilizing influence of society and help determine how strong or weak society will be. The family unit becomes a child’s first exposure to the world, and he derives his most significant perceptions about the world from the experiences he has at home. From good parents generally come good children.

Good parents care about how their children turn out. The Bible teaches us that as we train a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from that. Plato made the point that good education makes good men, and good men act nobly. Noble men and women are what society needs more of, and what we do with our children as parents will in large part determine how noble our children will be.

Allow me to suggest three simple ways to help keep your children on the "straight and narrow path" that leads to nobility: Family prayer, family Scriptures study and spending quality time together teaching our children values through activities and the spoken word.

Family prayer is absolutely essential to the well being of our families. Someone noted "the family that prays together, stays together." Prayer teaches our children reliance upon God through good times and bad. This is a good thing.

Family Scripture study (reading and discussing the Scriptures together out loud as a family) puts good and positive thoughts in our minds. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." The answers to life’s most perplexing problems are found in the holy Scriptures.

When we read these great thoughts, we should take time to think on them, and apply them to our daily lives. If we do this, we cannot fail. Scripture reading should be consistent and constant.

Finally, a forum where we can teach our children morality and responsibility is most valuable. I will refer to this forum as "family night" or "family home evening," where we gather as a family to set goals, discuss problems, provide our children with moral bearings and express our most heartfelt love for each family member. Yes, during this time together we turn off the television.

What a difference this would make to have our children go out into the world knowing that they are loved by the most important people in their lives.

I must agree with John the Beloved, who once said: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." The greatest work we will ever do will be the work we do within the walls of our own homes.

A child who is brought up in truth is more likely to love his family, his neighbors, his community and his country. Peace would then abound.

William J. Bennett, former secretary of education under President Reagan, concluded in a speech delivered at the Heritage Foundation that "today we must carry on a new struggle for the country we love. We must push hard against an age that is pushing hard against us. If we have full employment and greater economic growth, if we have cities of gold and alabaster but our children have not learned how to walk in goodness, justice and mercy, then the American experiment, no matter how gilded, will have failed."

George Wangemann is a member of the Gainesville City Council.