Devotional & Reflection

Week 1, Jul 2003

Gen 26, 27 - Problem Parents, Problem Children – Part I
By Pang Hee Hung, Katartizo, New Zealand

GEN 26:6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar, v. 7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, "She is my sister," because he was afraid to say, "She is my wife." He thought, "The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful."”

In 2001, six teenagers ages 12 to 16 from New Zealand, robbed and murdered a man. The blame was leveled at the Family Service Agency and the school. For a moment, I thought that blame shifting is easy and tempting, but what does the bible have to tell us on the influences that shape a child’s behaviour:

1. The Company We Keep / Peer Influence c.f. Ps 1:1;
2. Parental Training & Family Relationships OR Lack Thereof Prov 22:6;
3. Lack of Self-Responsibility & Self-Control / Our Sinful nature Gen 6:5; c.f. Gen 8:21b.

In the case of the 12 year old, all three factors come into play. His parents are divorced and it seems like both parents have not taken responsibility of bringing up the boy, i.e. lack of parental training. The agency is at fault it seems.

How did the problem arise in the first place? If we study the passage in consideration we would see that the major factor that influenced Isaac’s behaviour was poor parental modelling. The ruse used by Isaac in Gen 26:7, to deceive Abimelech into thinking that Rebekah was his sister, was the same ruse used by his father, Abraham. It was used not once but twice by Abraham – when Abram went to Egypt (Gen 12:13) and when he was in Gerar (Gen 20:2).

So there is some truth in the saying "Like Father, Like Son" or "A chip of the old block." The problems and weaknesses of the father (e.g. Abraham) are sometimes manifested in and perpetrated by the child (Isaac) because the child learns all these traits (good and bad) from his father. My wife and I have a number of friends whose marriages ended up in divorces. When we examined their parental background, we realized that their parents' marriages had similar endings. So something negative is caught on by the next generation.

What if we have non-Christian parents? Do we blame them for bringing us up the way we are? Well as believers in Christ, we do not want to perpetuate these weaknesses. We need to know God and to know ourselves in the light of how God sees us:

1. Knowledge of God, His Living Word (the Bible & Jesus) & Spirit. Know His Word and instructions for living & Parenting – be doers (Jas 1:22).
2. Knowledge of Self, be self-aware and walk by the Spirit. What have the Spirit revealed to us about our lives in the knowledge of God?

1. What good and negative traits have I picked up from my father (as Isaac had from Abraham)?
2. What can I do to cut any negative trait from passing down the generations?
3. Who do we blame if our child misbehaves? Who do we blame if we misbehave?
4. How can I correct my child in the instruction of the Lord when he misbehaves?

Parenting Thoughts – Your Presence is more Important than your Presents.

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