After God created Adam and Eve, He told them to, "Be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28). How would they do this? By having children. Children are a blessing from the Lord. The Bible says, "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward . . . Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them . . ." (Psalm 127:3,5). Godís word gives clear instruction to parents about how they should deal with their kids. In this study, though, we want to look at the other side of the coin and ask, "What responsibility do children have to their parents?"

First, children need to obey their parents. No doubt, all parents would agree that this is the right thing for kids to do. But why is obedience to parents the proper course of action? Simply because God says that it is! "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1). It is a pleasing sight for the Lord to observe kids obeying their dad and mom: "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord" (Colossians 3:20). Jesus set a great example for all children to follow by being obedient to Joseph and Mary throughout His childhood: "And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them" (Luke 2:51).

Second, children need to respect or honor their parents. The Lordís message to children is, "Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise" (Ephesians 6:2). The opposite of respect or honor would be to disrespect or not honor them. Children show disrespect for their parents when they say unkind things to or about them, mock them, or when they totally disregard their parentsí advice or direct orders. Children also show disrespect for their parents when they are ashamed of them for no justifiable reason. "Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old" (Proverbs 23:22).

Third, children have the responsibility to love their parents. If you have read the Bible, then you certainly have noticed that Jesus wants us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43,44), our neighbors (Galatians 5:14), our children (Titus 2:4), and our spouse, if we are married (Titus 2:4; Ephesians 5:25). In fact, the New Testament teaches us that the Lord wants us to love all men (1 Thessalonians 3:12). For children, that would surely include loving their own parents. If wisdom personified says, "I love them that love me" (Proverbs 8:17), then surely it is proper for kids to love their father and mother. It is a beautiful sight to see parents demonstrate love for their kids. It is just as touching to see their kids show genuine love in return! Those parents and children who fail to do this are "without natural affection" (2 Timothy 3:3).

Fourth, children should be considerate of their parents. We understand that babies and toddlers always want things to be done to their satisfaction. As children are growing up, however, they must learn that the world does not revolve around them and their desires. Seven year-olds, as well as seventeen year-olds, sometimes make unreasonable demands of their parents, giving little or no thought to how difficult or taxing this might be on their folks. The Bible teaches that all of us, including kids, need to learn to be considerate of others. "Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4, NKJV). Children sometimes beg and beg and beg their parents to take them to a particular place or activity. As children mature, they need to take into account such questions as: Can my folks afford this? Is my request interfering with my parentsí plans? Will fulfilling my request be an inconvenience to my parents? Is my wish reasonable? Is the timing right? Children need to be considerate of their parents. It should be clear to those children that are Christians, that treating others like we would like to be treated applies in our family relationships, just like it does every place else (Matthew 7:12).

Fifth, according to the Bible, children should take care of their parents. While most people easily recognize that parents should provide for their kids, sometimes people fail to realize that there may come a point in life when the children will need to take care of their parents. Often this need arises due to health or financial matters that hinder aging parents. The Bible says, "But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God" (1 Timothy 5:4) The word "requite" means to repay. When children are young, they are on the receiving end of their parentsí tender care. There may come a time in the life of a childís parents that the child will need to step up and repay his/her parents by taking care of them. This would be part of what the Bible calls a child "serving" his/her father (Philippians 2:22), or what it calls "providing" for those of our own family (1 Timothy 5:8). None of us should overlook Godís charge for us to care for widows. This is especially true when it comes to the widows of our own family. "If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed" (1 Timothy 5:16).

Sixth, children that are Christians have the extra responsibility of setting a good example before their parents. Christians of all ages need to let their "light" shine before others (Matthew 5:16). For those with Christian parents, this is a way of encouraging the parents to remain faithful. For those kids who are members of the church, but their parents are not, being a good example is an absolute must if they want to be able to influence the parents for good. Hypocrisy turns people off, including our own family members (Romans 2:21-24).

Along these same lines, children that are members of the church have the added responsibility of trying to teach the gospel to their parents if the parents are not Christians. While our concern is for "every creature" in "all the world" (Mark 16:15), we need to make a special effort to teach the gospel to our parents. They may not have any interest in hearing the truth. They may think that they are already saved. They may even think that you (their child) are out of place in trying to get them to change their thinking and lives. It takes patience. It takes persistence. It takes prayer. It takes an ongoing effort to sow the seed. The greatest thing that Christian children can do for their non-Christian parents is to help them learn and obey the gospel (Acts 16:9,10).

Sadly, we live in a time when many parents are not living up to their God-given duties. Likewise, many children make it plain that they have no intention of carrying out the responsibilities that the Bible so clearly says that they have. A family is truly blessed that has children who conduct themselves according to the principles of the Bible. These Bible principles need to be taught and practiced far and wide. Thank God for those wonderful children that are doing their very best to be the kind of sons and daughters that the Lord wants them to be.

-- Roger D. Campbell



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Last modified: September 27, 2008