二○二○年十月十七日／十八日 Click here for English version
Have I Done What is Right for the Good of My Children?
Rev Lawrence Chan
As parents, we all hope for well-being and happiness for our children. But what can we do to achieve these goals?
A study by psychologist Martin Seligman has identified three elements of happiness. The first is what most people stress – conditions for material life. Parents often spend a lot of money on games or other consumables for their children. They take them on trips to various countries, and give them good food and housing. Nevertheless, this only contributes to 10% of happiness. The sensual pleasure it brings invariably creates an urge for greater gratification that demands more stimuli, and the gratification is only short-lived. An expensive kind of happiness, it is just not good enough.
The second is engagement with uncoerced choice. When a person can make decisions for oneself and then, step by step, accomplish what he chooses to do, he experiences happiness with satisfaction. In my home, my elder son usually does the vacuum cleaning while my younger son mops the floor. As soon as he hears the vacuum cleaner in operation, my younger son would gladly say, “Let me mop the floor next!” Every time he completes the task, he feels satisfied because it is his choice and is something he feels he can do. It is also an area he can help and win praise. That brings him the highest form of happiness, which is happiness with meaning. The study finds that engagement contributes more to the person’s well-being, at 40 per cent. And it is free. Children can live an engaged life and derive pleasure from it.
The last element contributes the most to happiness, at 50 per cent. It is the family legacy which is passed on from generation to generation. The family of origin has great impact on life. In nurturing their children, parents need to reflect on what they have inherited from their family of origin, which they may unconsciously pass on to their own children. There is a brother who was often beaten up by his drunken father when young. Indecent articles littered his home. The brother feels that he is readily enraged, has violent tendencies and is quite lustful. After his daughter was born and when the newborn cried often, he had thoughts of violence towards her. He was very concerned that he would have negative impact on her. After discussion with his wife, he decided to study psychology and also learn how to raise children. He was determined to learn and strongly motivated to put it into practice. Finally, he not only grasped the needs of children at various developmental stages and how to raise children, but was also delivered by God from the pain he suffered when he grew up. He was freed from a distorted life.
Brothers and sisters, the Bible teaches parents to bring children up "in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). What is involved here is not only verbal instruction, but also teaching by example. To pass on a great legacy, and before we guide them on to an engaged life, we must first let the word of God renew our lives so we can set a good example. We also need to show understanding and give our children exhortations according to the various stages of their psychological development. May your families be blessed!