Martin Luther had much to say on the subject of education and parenting, drawing from his deep understanding of Scripture and his experiences, as a pastor, as a university professor, and most importantly, as a father. This is the third in a series of quotes taken from a Bible Class discussion paper put together by retired Pastor Dan Fleischer, quoted from the book Luther on Education by F.V.N. Painter.
Parental Folly: Neglect, Bad Example
“Those parents that knowingly neglect their children and let them grow up without proper instruction, bring about their ruin; and though they do not set a bad example, yet they spoil their children by undue indulgence. Such people as thus indulge their children and must bear the sins of their children as if committed by themselves…. There are others who ruin their children by setting them a bad example in word and deed…”
Parents have a powerful influence on their children. Luther makes two good points here, and we do well to take his advice. First, overindulgence. By spoiling our children, giving in to their wishes all the time, not setting limits, not being consistent in our discipline – we do share a responsibility in their future behavior. Next, our example. What we do speaks far more powerfully to our children that what we say. The example we model to our children will help shape and form them. That should make us think carefully about what we are modeling. Of course, we all fall short at times in both of these areas. Thankfully we have the Lord to forgive us and lift us up again. God’s Word…
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.*
Fathers, do not exasperate your children. Instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your strength is renewed like the eagle’s.
*”the rod” can correctly be interpreted as any form of discipline