Pastoral Perspectives

Part Time Parents

Is there such a thing as a part-time parent, I wonder? In a country where success and comfort of living is the No. 1 goal in life, it is common for both parents to work long hours just to keep a luxurious or if not a decent lifestyle. So parents would put their child in Infant Care and later on in Child Care. As the child grows up, the child will continue to be taken care by Before-and-After School Care. On weekends, children will be sent to all kinds of enrichment or tuition classes. For Christians on Sundays, children will be sent to Sunday School for their spiritual input. Will all these rob us of our responsibilities as parents? Will we at some point forget that we are parents? I hope not. Because there is no such thing as part-time parents! Like it or not, we are full-time parents, whether we are working full-time, part-time or as a homemaker, we are always full-time parents. Being full-time parents, our children’s well-being, not just economic and academic but social, mental, emotional and spiritual health is our responsibility. I can understand that since we are not trained as academic educators, we send our children to schools to be trained academically. I can understand when our children lack a certain skill we will send them to training classes to acquire the skill, for example swimming or music. However there is no excuse for us when it comes to spiritual well-being of our children. God has mandated it for us to be the prime educators of our children spiritual health. This mandate can be found in Deuteronomy chapter 5-6.  After The Ten Commandments were given, what was God’s instruction to God’s people?

Deuteronomy 6:6-9

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

To put it simply, verse 6-7 tell us what we must do as parents, that is to teach our children God’s commands as often as possible and verse 8-9 tell us that we shall never forget this great responsibility, by making sign to remind us daily.

However I believe such a mandate was either forgotten or forsaken by many parents because of our busy lifestyle. If you do a survey of our current teachers serving in our church’s children ministry, it is not difficult to realize that our teachers can be classified into two categories. The first category is the single. Some have served as Sunday School teachers for many years, while other are relatively new, younger and energetic. The other category is parents who first joined the children ministry when their children were still young. And that was more than 15 years ago! At that time, the children ministry was formed by parents volunteering to be Sunday school teachers or helpers, so that parents could take turn to teach their children and at the same time not be deprived from the worship service. Yes, many are still serving in the children ministry long after their children have grown up to be youths, young adults and parents because there is no one for them to pass the baton to. However I am concerned where are the parents of our current children and those who have grown up through our children ministry for the past 10 years? Sadly, other than a few diehard parents, I have seen very few parents stepping forward to serve in our children ministry. And that made me very worried. Why is it so? Is it because there is already a pool of teachers teaching so parents don’t see the urgent need to be involved in children ministry. Is it because parents feel that they are not qualified or inadequate to teach in Sunday School? However I fear the real reason is that after a whole week of hard work in their work place or home, they want a break instead.

But parents, do you know that you are missing out the best time to be involved while your child is in the ministry? First, it is our mandate as parent given by God to teach our children about spiritual truth. Second, training is provided for Sunday school teacher. And as parents are being trained as Sunday school teachers, they can also use it for the training of their own children. Studies have shown that children’s whose parents are involved in education are more motivated in school. Motivated students are more likely to participate in class, more likely to complete homework and more likely to achieve academically.  This, I feel, not only applies to secular education but religious education as well. Parent’s participation in their children’s Sunday school activities will demonstrate to the children their attitude towards serving them, the church, the community and God. Unless your child sees you serving God in the ministry, they will not be motivated to serve God in the future.

So parents please take up the responsibility to be the prime spiritual educator of your child. Sending them to Sunday school is not good enough. Being involved as a helper or teacher is the next step forward.

Preacher Alvin Lim

May 19, 2013