Every Child Has Something to Say

by Jefferson David Tant

It is patently obvious that children have needs, beginning at the time of birth. They need food. They need clothing. They need to have their diapers changed. And they need to be held. But beyond these necessities for their life and well-being, there are other needs that are just as vital and even more so, and sadly, some of these needs are in short supply for some children. So, let’s consider some of these needs, things that a child's very existence says.


Love is a basic human need, from babies to the elderly. And while there might be general agreement with this, it is unfortunate that sometimes young ones rarely, if ever, receive the love and affection they need. Parents can be so busy with other things that the little ones are short-changed. There are different ways to show love besides just telling them you love them. Hold them in your lap. Read to them. Play with them.

Are children sometimes hard to love? That can happen. But God has given us an example that it can be done. “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:8). We had certainly done nothing to deserve what God did for us, so surely we can love our children, no matter how “undeserving” they may be at times.


As children become aware of those around them, they naturally begin to imitate what they see in their parents. If they hear foul language, then that seems normal to their little ears. If they see the abuse of alcohol, then that will influence them as they grow older. If they see an attitude of kindness to others, that will also affect them.

And, of course, spiritual examples are of great importance. Some years ago, we had an elderly couple who were members of the church my wife and I were with. They were faithful and spiritually minded. But in the days when they were raising their children, they had no spiritual life. And now that their children were adults and out on their own, none of them had any interest in spiritual things. They had no example to follow.


Yes, we lead busy lives and are involved in many things. But one of the greatest things we can be involved in is our children. This is a part of loving them, as mentioned earlier. If parents don’t have time for them, they will likely seek others to spend time with, and those others might not influence them best. Take them to the park. Take them to buy some ice cream as a treat. Read children’s books to them. Show them that they are important.


Discipline comes in two ways.

  1. One matter of discipline involves giving a child some responsibilities. Make up your bed. Keep your room clean. Help with chores around the house. Keep up with your schoolwork. This is essential in forming a child's character and preparing for adulthood when family and job needs multiply. Early training in discipline is good training for adulthood. Learning discipline also has spiritual applications. “Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9).
  2. Discipline is also a part of learning the consequences of making the wrong decisions. Excusing bad behavior by saying “boys will be boys” may save parents from having to give discipline at the time, but it will produce some unpleasant consequences for the boys when they are out on their own. “A wise son accepts his father's discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1). “Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death” (Proverbs 19:18) “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Prov. 13:24).


God’s words to David apply to us, as well. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you" (Psalms 32:8). And there is the familiar passage in Deuteronomy 6:5-9: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Then, we have Paul’s instructions to the fathers. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). I am afraid that too many times, fathers think they are so busy that they leave this up to mothers. Obviously, mothers have a part in this, as seen in Timothy’s family. “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well” (II Timothy 1:5). But mothers fulfilling their responsibility does not excuse fathers from their responsibility.


How does a blind person know where to go? A sighted person or even a guide dog may lead him. And how does a child come to know the way of life? That is not an inborn instinct but something that is taught. As in other matters previously mentioned, this is the responsibility of parents, as you might take a blind person by the hand and guide him to his destination. And what is our final destination? Heaven.

Parents, listen to your children. They may not always express their needs in words, but their very presence clearly speaks volumes.

As God guides us on our journey, so parents must guide their children. "I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, In paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them And rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, And I will not leave them undone" (Isaiah 42:16).

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