It becomes very important that we take responsibility for the safety of our children. President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “Many children are targeted by sexual predators, criminal gangs and drug sellers precisely because they are vulnerable. As a society, we need to be more diligent and more active in protecting our children from these and other dangers.”
John Windvogel often talks about his father and always says something good about him. After school he couldn’t wait to take food to his dad. He tells how his dad allowed him to operate the harvester, under supervision. How, together, they went to hunt porcupines. He says that his dad was like a friend to him, they worked together, talked a lot and played. He tells how his dad taught him what was right and what was wrong, and would often say to him: “My son, you must…” or “My son, you must not…” His dad had already died 38 years ago when John was only 13 years old.
To say “my son” points to some loving quality in the voice of a father. In the book Proverbs, the wise Solomon uses the phrase “my son” 23 times, for example: My son, if sinners entice (tempt) you, do not consent (Prov. 1:10). My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad. … Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way (Prov. 23:15 – 19).
Of Jesus John writes: In the beginning the Word (the Son of God) already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1 – 2). This Son of God, Jesus, told his disciples: “The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them. And you are my friends” (John 15:13, 14). If we are friends of Jesus, it means that we shall also be friends for one another. He said: “as you did it (good deeds) to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40). What we do to Jesus’ friends, we do to Him.
If we treat a child well, we do so to Jesus’ friend, to Jesus Himself. At some point Jesus told his disciples: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14). For a child his parents are the most important role models. To become a good role model is to obey God’s will, spend time with your children, partake in things with them, have discussions, work together and play.
The greatest gift that parents could give their children is the parents’ love for each other. The child will notice this love in the way they treat each other, if they enjoy talking to each other, play together, care for each other, and reserve time for each other. The child will notice that his parents love each other if they are the best of friends to each other. Children will remember it once they are married themselves.
Perhaps we should ask ourselves what our children would remember about us. What was really important to them? When children speak at the funeral of a parent, it is normally about the love and quality time they had received from the parent. Will our children, 38 years after we had died, still regularly tell about the things we had taught them, how they and we played together, that we were friends to them. Wouldn’t we want to be remembered that way?
Our Father, help us to be parents in whom our children will notice something of You, our heavenly Father. Amen.