Meeting the Needs of Your Children

Bringing Up Your Children

When Paul teaches parents to “bring up” their children, he uses a word that means to feed your children. Feeding children certainly includes giving them food, but it means so much more than this. In a more general sense, it means to provide your children with whatever they need. It also does this with a specific goal in mind, which is to bring them to a point at which they are prepared to lead an adult life in a responsible manner. Then, when a child reaches adulthood, he or she should be able to meet their own needs and no longer rely on their parents.

To accomplish this, it is important to understand what your children need, so that you can properly meet their needs. Thankfully, the childhood development of Jesus provides you with a good example to follow (Luke 2:52). While it may not provide a complete pattern, it sets you in the right direction by emphasizing four categories in which your children need to develop. They need your help to progress in: 1) his education and skill-set, 2) his physical health and maturity, 3) his relationship with God, and 4) his relationship with other people.

Meeting Educational Needs

To “increase in wisdom” means that Jesus improved in his ability to understand things and to make wise choices as a result. This kind of wisdom encompasses both general education and a specific skill-set. By the way that Jesus taught people and interacted with his critics, it is obvious that he learned how to communicate well. Your children likewise need to receive a comprehensive education, featuring reading, writing, and speaking, but also mathematics, science, history, literature, and other crucial subjects. Furthermore, they need to be trained how to apply this knowledge in useful and responsible ways.

Additionally, your children should learn one or two basic life skills which will prepare them for basic employment and further specialized training. This is especially true of boys. Jesus, for instance, learned carpentry skills from his father (Mark 6:3, cf. Matt 13:55), whereas the majority of his twelve disciples were fishermen (John 21:2-3) and Paul was skilled at tent-making or leather work (Acts 18:3). Similarly, girls should learn domestic skills for managing a household with efficiency and skill (Prov 31:10-31; Tit 2:4-5).

Meeting Physical Needs

To “increase in stature” refers to physical development. This goes without saying. Children need parents to provide them with a proper diet. Care should be given to providing nourishment that causes neither malnutrition nor indulgence. A balanced, moderate diet is necessary, and so is a lifestyle that provides them with proper rest, physical activity, and medical care. Ultimately, children need parents to provide them with opportunities to apply their knowledge and their physical abilities into meaningful work opportunities, through chores and more (Lam 3:27).

Meeting Spiritual Needs

To “increase in favor with God” refers to a child’s personal relationship with God. Children need parents to guide them towards a personal relationship with God and a life that pleases God (Psa 34:11). That is why you must ensure that your children receive consistent exposure to the Word of God at home (Deut 6:6-9; 1 Tim 3:14-16). You must also ensure that your children participate together with you as you involve yourself faithfully in a Bible-teaching church (Acts 2:42; Heb 10:24-25). As your children develop, it is important that you model for them, instill in them, and expect from them a personal walk with God for themselves (Prov 20:11; Josh 1:8; 2 Tim 1:5).

Meeting Social Needs

To “increase in favor with men” refers to a child’s social relationships, whether inside or outside the family. Not only do they need to learn how to show proper respect to an adult (Lev 19:32), but they also need to learn how to be friendly (Matt 18:24). Furthermore, they need to learn how to avoid the wrong kind of friends (1 Cor 15:33). Altogether, parents should meet the needs of their children so effectively that they learn to respect other people so genuinely that other people learn to respect them. This includes people who are Christians and people who are not.

The Responsibility of the Parents

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of both parents – father and mother – to meet the needs of their children (Eph 5:4; 1 Tim 5:10). It is not good enough just to provide a house for your children to live in and food for your children to eat. It is not enough to enroll them in school and then expect the school to do all the training (whether it be a public school, private school, Christian school, or homeschool). And it is not enough tob send or take your children to church and expect the church to meet their needs.

Overreliance on any one source to meet the needs of your child will inevitably cause deficiencies. God holds parents responsible to understand the needs of their children and to make prayerful, biblical, deliberate choices to ensure that all of these needs are met so that their children will progress in education and life skills, in physical health and stamina, in a vibrant relationship with God, and in a respectful, vibrant relationship with others. Where deficiencies appear, parents should do whatever they can to meet those needs one way or another without expecting someone else to do it for you.

Review Questions

  1. Did your parents do well at meeting your childhood development needs? In what categories did they excel? In what categories did they fall short?
  2. How are you doing at meeting the development needs of your children? In what categories do you excel? In what categories did you fall short?
  3. What can you do to be more effective and more balanced at meeting these needs?
  4. How can your family put into practice what you have learned from this lesson?
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