“Young men and young women . . . Let them praise the name of Jehovah.”
SONGS: 88, 115
1, 2. (a) Why is it not easy for parents to teach children to have faith in Jehovah, and what is the only way parents can do this? (b) What four points will we now discuss?
A MOTHER and father in France said: “We believe in Jehovah, but that does not necessarily mean that our children will believe. Faith is not something you inherit. Our children acquire it little by little.” A brother in Australia wrote: “Helping to build faith in your child’s heart is probably the greatest challenge you will ever face.” He added: “You may feel that you have dealt with a question to your child’s satisfaction. Then you find that he raises the same question again later! The answers that satisfy your child’s curious mind today may not be enough for him tomorrow.” As children grow older, many parents find that they need to explain the same subjects again in more detail. And they find that they need to use various methods to teach their children to love Jehovah.
2 If you are a parent, do you at times wonder whether you will really be able to teach your children to love Jehovah and to keep serving him even when they grow up? Actually, none of us can do this by ourselves. (Jeremiah 10:23) That is why we need to rely on Jehovah to help us. He has given parents much guidance. How can you help your children? (1) Get to know them well. (2) Teach them the things about Jehovah that are in your heart. (3) Use illustrations. (4) Pray for holy spirit and be patient with your children.
KNOW YOUR CHILDREN WELL
3. How can parents imitate the way Jesus taught his disciples?
3 Jesus often asked his disciples what they believed. (Matthew 16:13-15) You can imitate his example. While you are chatting with your children or doing something together, ask them what they think and let them tell you how they really feel. Do they perhaps have any doubts? A 15-year-old brother in Australia said: “Dad often talks with me about my faith and helps me to reason. He asks: ‘What does the Bible say?’ ‘Do you believe what it says?’ ‘Why do you believe it?’ He wants me to answer in my own words and not simply repeat his or Mum’s words. As I got older, I had to expand on my answers.”
4. Why is it important to be patient and answer your children’s questions? Give an example.
4 If your children do not immediately believe something the Bible teaches, be patient. Help them to find the answers to their questions. One father said: “Take your child’s questions seriously. Do not dismiss them as of little importance, and do not avoid a subject simply because it may make you feel uncomfortable.” In fact, it is good that your children ask you questions, because it means that they want to understand. Even Jesus asked questions when he was young. (Read Luke 2:46.) A young person in Denmark said: “When I said that I wondered if we had the true religion, my parents took it calmly
Talk about Jehovah every day when you are doing things with your children
5. Even if children seem to have faith in Jehovah, what should parents do?
5 Get to know your children well. Do not think that they have faith in Jehovah just because they go out preaching and go to the meetings. How do they really feel about Jehovah, and what do they think about the Bible? Do your best to find out if there is something that makes it difficult for them to stay faithful to Jehovah. Talk about him every day when you are doing things with your children. Pray for your children, both when you are with them and when you are on your own.
TEACH THEM THE THINGS ABOUT JEHOVAH THAT ARE IN YOUR HEART
6. When parents continue to learn about Jehovah and the Bible, how does this help them to teach their children?
6 People enjoyed listening to Jesus because he loved Jehovah and knew the Scriptures well. They also felt that Jesus loved them. So they listened carefully to him. (Luke 24:32; John 7:46) In a similar way, when your children see that you love Jehovah, this helps them to love him too. (Read Deuteronomy 6:5-8; Luke 6:45.) So continue to study the Bible carefully, and read our publications regularly. Get to know more about the things Jehovah has created. (Matthew 6:26, 28) The more you know about Jehovah, the more you can teach your children about him.
Share with your children what you are learning about Jehovah
7, 8. Whenever you learn something about Jehovah, what can you do? How have some parents done this?
7 When you learn something about Jehovah, tell your children about it. Do this anytime you are with them, not only when preparing for meetings or during family worship. This is what one mother and father in the United States do. They talk about Jehovah with their children when they see something beautiful in nature or when they are enjoying a delicious meal. They said: “We remind our children of the love and forethought that Jehovah put into everything he provided for us.” A couple in South Africa like to talk about creation when they work in their garden with their two daughters. For example, they might mention how amazing it is that a seed becomes a plant. The parents said: “We try to develop in our daughters a great respect for life and its wonderful complexity.”
8 A father in Australia took his son, who was about ten years old, to a museum. The father decided to use this time to help his son strengthen his faith and see proof that Jehovah is the Creator. He said: “We saw a display of ancient sea creatures called ammonoids and trilobites. It struck us that these extinct animals were beautiful, complex, and complete
9. Why is it good to use illustrations? What illustration did one mother use?
9 Jesus often used illustrations. He taught important lessons by telling a story or giving an example. (Matthew 13:34, 35) When you use illustrations, you let your children use their imagination. This will help them to think about the lesson you are teaching them, to understand it clearly, and to remember it. They will also enjoy learning. For example, a mother in Japan wanted her two boys to learn that the way Jehovah made the earth’s atmosphere shows how much he cares about us. One boy was eight years old and the other was ten. So she used an illustration that they could understand at their age. She gave the boys milk, sugar, and coffee. Then she asked each of the boys to make her a cup of coffee. “They took great care,” she explained. “When I asked them why they were so careful, they said that they wanted the coffee to be just the way I like it. I explained that God mixed the gases in the atmosphere with similar care
10, 11. (a) What illustration could you use to show your children that there must be a Creator? (See opening picture.) (b) What illustrations have you used?
10 What illustration could you use to show your children that there must be a Creator? You could bake a cake with your child using a recipe. Explain why it is important to follow the recipe exactly. Then give your child an apple or some other fruit, and ask: “Did you know that this apple has a recipe?” Next, cut the apple in two, and give him a seed. Explain that the seed is like a recipe. It contains instructions on how to make an apple. But these are much more complex than the instructions for making a cake. You might ask: “Someone wrote the recipe for the cake. So who wrote the recipe for the apple?” If the children are older, you could explain that even the instructions for making an apple tree that can produce more apples are found in the DNA inside the seed. You might also show them some of the pictures and examples on pages 10 to 20 of our brochure The Origin of Life
11 Many parents read the articles in the Awake! series “Was It Designed?” with their children. If their children are very young, the parents can explain the information in a simple way. For example, a couple in Denmark compared airplanes to birds. They said: “Airplanes look just like birds. But can airplanes lay eggs and hatch small airplanes? Do birds need special landing strips? And how would you compare the sound of an airplane to the singing of a bird? So who is more intelligent
12. How can you use illustrations to teach your children that whatever the Bible says is correct?
12 You can use illustrations to teach your children that whatever the Bible says is correct. For example, you could read Job 26:7. (Read.) Do not just tell your children that the information in this verse must have come from Jehovah. Instead, help them to use their imagination. You could say that people in Job’s time may not have believed that the earth is floating in space. They knew that any object, like a ball or a stone, has to rest on something. At that time, nobody had yet proved that the earth is floating in space, since there were no telescopes or spaceships. The lesson is that even though the Bible was written a long time ago, it is always correct because it is from Jehovah.
TEACH THEM WHY IT IS GOOD TO BE GUIDED BY THE BIBLE
13, 14. How might parents teach their children to obey what the Bible says?
13 It is also important to teach your children that they will be happiest when they obey what the Bible says. (Read Psalm 1:1-3.) For example, you could ask your children to imagine that they are going to live on an island. They have to choose some people to live there with them. Then you could ask, “What kind of people would you take with you if you wanted everyone to get along well?” Finally, you could read Galatians 5:19-23 to see the kind of people Jehovah wants in the new world.
14 In this way, you could teach your children two important lessons. First, Jehovah is teaching us how to live a happy life now and have peace with other people. Second, he is teaching us how to live in the new world. (Isaiah 54:13; John 17:3) You could also show your children how the Bible has helped our brothers. For example, find a life story in one of our publications, perhaps from the series “The Bible Changes Lives” in The Watchtower. Or ask someone from your congregation to tell you and your children how the Bible helped him to make big changes to please Jehovah.
15. What will help you to teach your children?
15 Use your imagination to make the lessons you teach your children interesting and exciting. Think of different ways to help them enjoy learning about Jehovah and draw closer to him. And keep doing this as they grow older. “Never tire of experimenting with new ways to approach old subjects,” said one father.
PRAY FOR JEHOVAH’S SPIRIT AND BE PATIENT WITH YOUR CHILDREN
16. When teaching children, why is it important to be patient? How have some parents been patient?
16 With the help of Jehovah’s spirit, your children can have strong faith. (Galatians 5:22, 23) But it will take time for their faith to become strong. So be patient with your children, and keep on teaching them. “My wife and I simply gave our children a lot of attention,” said a father in Japan who has a son and daughter. “From the time they were very young, I studied with them for 15 minutes every day, except on days when we had Christian meetings. Fifteen minutes was not too hard for us or for them.” A circuit overseer wrote: “As a teenager, I had many more questions or doubts than I ever put into words. Over time, many of these were addressed at meetings or during family or personal study. That’s why it’s important for parents just to keep teaching.”
17. Why is it important that parents strengthen their own faith? How do a mother and father in Bermuda help their daughters have faith in Jehovah?
17 Of course, your children can learn much when they see that you have strong faith in Jehovah. They will observe what you do. So keep strengthening your own faith. Let your children see how real Jehovah is to you. For example, when a mother and father in Bermuda are worried about something, they pray with their daughters and ask Jehovah to guide them. They also encourage their children to pray on their own. “We also tell our older daughter, ‘Have complete trust in Jehovah, keep busy in Kingdom service, and do not worry too much.’ When she sees the outcome, she knows that Jehovah is helping us. This has done wonders for her faith in God and in the Bible.”
18. What should parents not forget?
18 Parents, never forget that you cannot force your children to have faith. You plant and water, but only Jehovah can make it grow. (1 Corinthians 3:6) So work hard to teach your precious children about him, and pray for his spirit to help them have faith. You can be sure that Jehovah will bless all your hard work.