Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Securing Their Hearts #3

The Love Doctor

by Betty Jackson                 

There is a frequent commercial advertising the efforts of a non-profit hospital to help disabled children. In one of those ads the question is asked of children, “What is love?” One little boy responds, “Call the love doctor!” There is a love doctor! He is the Great Physician who tells us by his example of self sacrifice and in his wonderful words about love.

It is a sad reality that some children grow up angry, self hating, or without a godly self-esteem. Worse yet is what is described as a reactive emotional detachment disorder. What is the cause of such emotional suffering?

We must wonder at the reports that between 1989 and 1999 there was an increase by 400% in the use of mental health services for female children and teenagers, and 70% for male children/teens. And more than one in eight females use antidepressants. (Note: this is not a condemnation of using mental health helps.) The question is, why are children/teens needing such help. Why the rise in anxiety and depression among the young, especially girls. (Sax, p. 5).

Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at the San Diego University, has researched this matter, comparing today’s statistics to 50 years ago. In her opinion there has been a decrease in “social connectedness.” She states that “Anxiety increases as social bonds weaken” (Sax, p. 5).

How can we help our children grow up without the emotional turmoil of unbelief, low self-esteem and self-hate? 

Though liberal in his theology, sociologist Anthony Campolo in his book, Growing Up In America, makes the valid observation that human beings are social beings, with needs for a “primary group.” We were designed that way. Each person feels the need to “belong.” The most important primary group in the healthy development of a young person is her family. When that relationship is poor, youngsters will seek out others with whom to bond. It is natural for all of us to develop close relationships with people outside our families. But youngsters whose family bonds are weak, will be more at risk for bonding with the wrong people, resulting in sinful behaviors.

The importance of a healthy love bond between parents and children cannot be overstated. The emotional attachment is natural. But there is a reason why so many of the young people, even among Christians, are involved in immorality. Development of a stable, moral, happy young person is complex, we know. But it must begin when a child is newborn.

Older women are instructed to train younger women to love their children. I was surprised that the word is not agape, the highest type of love. Instead it is the word phileo.(tender affection). In that ancient culture, and in ours, there is the reality of being without “natural affection.” To have the “agape type of love” for your children, you must have tender affection as well.

Our children need to be touched. Babies need to be held and rocked. Youngsters need comfort and love expressed by listening, in precious bedtime routines of prayer, story time, hugs, and tucking in. Teenagers may begin to recoil a bit, but they still need to be hugged often. They may not want a bedtime routine anymore, or they may. More likely it is that parents get busy and don’t realize their older kids could use more attention/affection. 

Teen years are not easy. But they do not need to be the time when Christian values are lost. Paul explained “Be not deceived, evil companionships corrupt good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). Parents whose bond with their children is strong will be better able to help steer their offspring to developing friendships that are healthy.

Remember, Christ developed a primary group in the apostolic band. They were his closest friends and chosen men to preach the first gospel sermons. They were special to him and each other. (See John 15:12-16.)

While it may seem simplistic, the type of love-bond we have with our children will greatly influence whether they will grow into balanced, moral and loving workers for the Lord.

There is more than having love for your kids to raise them in the Lord. We will explore those themes in future articles. One of the great sorrows is that many young people are growing up without a connection not only with family, but with God and his church. In many cases, their faith is already compromised by the time they are in middle school, due to the influence of a godless society creating doubt in the integrity of the Scriptures (Ham, p. 111). 

As we attempt to answer questions of how to train our beloved children, let us be reminded that there is ample evidence for the existence of a loving Father. The apostle Paul declared there is no excuse for rejecting him (Rom.1:18-21).

If you are not aware that there is a battle for the souls of your offspring, you need to be. Humanism is an aggressive movement around the world. (Use your search engine to find such associations in most countries.) Continuing from the early years of the American Humanist Society, the influence of atheists/humanists like John Dewey and John Dunphy has permeated our educational system. Note this quote: 

I am convinced that the battle for humankind's future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers that correctly perceive their role as proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being...The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and new — the rotting corpse of Christianity…”— excerpt from an article by John Dunphy titled Religion for a New Age,” appearing in the January/February 1983 issue of The Humanist Magazine. (emphasize mine).

Moses gave instructions to the generation of Jews who had survived the wilderness wanderings. He emphasized diligent teaching of their children, talking to them when they sit in the house, when they are walking in the way, when you lay down and when you get up (Dt. 6:4-9). One clear point is this: It takes time, over time! The common excuse that it takes quality time and not quantity time is misguided. We cannot spend every minute in a Bible class, but how much time we spend with our children matters. Going about daily activities can be teachable moments. Talking with our children bonds us together.

You cannot afford to leave your children’s minds in the hands of liberal religious teachers or the humanistically controlled public school. You must be an active teacher of your children, regardless of where they are schooled. Keeping that love-bond strong is the first line of defense for influencing our children.

C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “There is always hope if we keep an unsolved problem fairly in view; there is none, if we pretend it is not there” (Letters to Malcolm - quoted by A.E. Wilder Smith). What is the problem before us? It is the fact that Satan is out to steal your children. His ways are subtle and sneaky.  We must do all we can to protect them. Love them fervently enough to keep him on the run.

For you to love your children the right way, you must love God, the right way: “with all your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength” (Mt. 22:37, Lk. 10:27). If you do not love Jesus enough to obey him (Jon. 14:15), you will not be the eternally successful parent you need to be. 

Recommended Reading

Jackson, Wayne. Penetrating Questions From the Book of Job.

Atheistic Religiion In The Classroom.

Study Questions
1.  Read Titus 2:3-4
Define the Greek word “agape” translated love.
Define the Greek word “phileo” translated love.
What is the difference between between the two?

2.  Read 1 Corinthians 13.
Choose one of the words that you think you could grow in to be a better parent.

3.  Have you given thought to each of your child’s specific needs? Pray for them individually, rather than collectively. 

4.  Make a plan for teaching your children at home. Regardless of how they are receiving their secular education you still need to teach them. But don’t expect them to be happy about a typical school room sit down study. Try to make learning interesting. Memory verses are good. If you feel inapt about teaching your own children the Bible, ask for some help from a trusted Bible class teacher.

5. Memorize: Matthew 22:37-39

Ham, Ken/Britt Beemer. (2009). Already Gone. Green Forest, AR: Master Books.
Sax, Leonard,M.D. Ph.D. (2010). Girls on The Edge. New York:Basic Books.
A.E. Wilder Smith.(1968). Man's Origin, Man's Destiny. Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers.
A good online study site is There you will find Bible dictionaries, commentaries, original language tools, etc.

Copyright for purchased photo: 
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