My mum was telling me about some families she knows, whose kids have gone off the rails. “All my kids have grown up to be useful citizens, who do things to help others and not just themselves,” she said. I take that as a compliment! But also, I have the joy of being able to say the same thing. My heart goes out to those who are not able to say it, whose faces drop when you ask how their kids are doing. It’s so sad.
In one particular case my mum quoted, the problem appeared to be an excess of money. The kids had been spoiled, with nothing expected of them, so as adults they wanted to give nothing, just to live for themselves, with no sense of responsibility. In other families neglect can have similar results. It can happen too in even the most well-meaning of families. Although I am delighted to say my kids all turned out well, I cannot be smug. Yes, I must have done some things right, but I certainly made many mistakes too. I am more grateful to God than I can ever tell you for the outcome.
Kids are so precious, and especially to God. So I find Exodus 20:4-6 puzzling. Why would God punish children for the misdemeanours of their parents? But I do understand this: kids suffer when their parents worship the god of money, and spend all their time acquiring it rather than on their children. Kids suffer too, when their parents worship the god of alcohol or drugs; or when they make sex a god, and the home is insecure with one failed relationship following another. And insecure children have a much more difficult time in making good relationships with their own partners and offspring…
I understand too, that when we pray over our children, we release the hand of God Almighty to cover and protect them, and to draw them to himself. Of course God wants a relationship with all people, but he will not force his way into lives uninvited, and so his protection is rejected.
And I understand that God is desperate to shower his love on a thousand generations of those that love him, and invite him to be part of their family (v6). He so wants to bless.
So I understand the need to pray for my own children and grandchildren; but also to pray for families around us. Pray for parents everywhere. For the sake of the children.
Whether it knows it or not, society needs God.