Train up a child in the way
He (or she) should go,
And when he (she) is old
He (she) will not depart from it
(Proverbs 22:6).

“Education is no longer thought of
As a preparation for adult life,
But as a continuing process of growth and
Development from birth until death.”
– Stephen Mitchell

In the family community, the functions and relationships of its various members are defined by custom. To a degree, it is enforced by codes of law and tradition. Central is the role of the father. The mother’s relation to this community is characterized by special tasks and responsibilities. The authority of the father stands out in the pages of Scripture. The Apostle Paul states, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the Church….” (Ephesians 5:23). I believe the Koran agrees with this.

The father, as head of the family, begets, instructs, disciplines and loves his children. The mother also, having the primary function of producing children, has considerable authority over the family’s life. For example Sarah directed Abraham to cast out Hagar (Gen. 21:10), and he complied reluctantly. Rebekah, Isaac’s wife advised and abetted her son, Jacob in his theft of the birth-right from his brother (Gen. 27:11-17). The mother exhibits love and care for members of her family. She as the essential bearer of children and the wife, who satisfies the sexual desires of her husband. The mother is also the object of love and honor. She possesses authority over her family which appears to be second only to that of the father.

The roles of the mother are as important as that of the father if not even more important. She loves her children, instructs and disciplines them. She is concerned for their code of behavior as well as for their relation to God. If she is the mother of a King, she may well seriously influence affairs of the State.
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The role of parents to a child at any given time cannot be over-emphasized. Although I agree with Stephen Mitchell that says, “Education is not only a preparation for adult life, but a continuing process of growth and development from birth until death.” This is true because, learning is a lifelong process. But I want to add that learning begins before the birth of a child. It begins from conception. Whatever attitude or habits indulged in when a woman is under pregnancy has effect on the child, positive or negative.

Proverbs 22:6 urges parents to train up a child in the way he/she should go. The question is when should this training begin? My contention is that it should begin right from conception. To begin right, parents and guardians must themselves maintain purity of heart and life, if they desire their children to be pure. Because we cannot give what we do not have, we as fathers and mothers should train and discipline ourselves. It is then we can train our children, preparing them for life and the kingdom of God, as teachers in the home.

Proper and fruitful parental involvement calls for a right beginning time for the training of our children and also the surrender of ourselves to the Master Teacher, Jesus Christ. Ellen G. White, a religious educator, states:

The youth should be carefully
And judiciously trained,
For the wrong habits formed in childhood
And youth often cling to the entire life experience.
(Child Guidance, p.27).

That is why I agree with the Catholic Church assertion that states, “Give me a child for the first seven years of his or her life, and he or she will remain a Catholic for life.” Therefore, right beginning makes the most important part of upbringing and training.
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Satan is working with great power to lead humans to indulge bad appetite and gratify wrong inclinations. The devil influences men and women to spend their days in headless folly. Satan presents attractions in a life of selfish enjoyment and sensual indulgence. Intemperance saps the energies of both mind and body. Children, especially adolescent succumb to these evils. Unfortunately, some parents are victims of this evil influences and they pass it to their children. For example, we caught a 100 level student with a bottle of beer which is an offence in our university. When the student was brought before the Disciplinary Committee to defend himself, he shocked all the Committee members by saying, “What is the big deal with a bottle of beer, my father takes me to the Beer Parlor?” We ended up his case by warning him and direct him to the Student Handbook which states that possession and taking of alcohol is forbidden on ABUAD Campus.

Children practice whatever they have learned from their parents feely and without any sense of guilt. As a child move from infant to toddler and then to a preschooler, he or she learns how to speak, listen, write and read, both at home and in the school. That later develops the child to achieve academically in the elementary, secondary Schools and finally at the university. Whatever disposition, attitude and habits developed in the early years will be manifested in mature manhood and womanhood.

The point is, as parents, you may bend a young tree into almost any shape that you choose. If it remains and grows as you have bent it, it will be a deformed tree and will ever tell of the injury and abuse received at your hand. You may after years of growth, try to straighten the tree, but all your efforts will prove unavailing. It will ever be a crooked tree. This same point applies to the minds of the children. They need to be carefully and tenderly trained in childhood. Whether you train them in the right direction or in the wrong, they will pursue the course into which they were directed in youth. The habits formed in youth will grow with them and continue into afterlife except there is a miraculous intervention.
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If parents live in obedience to the divine Teacher, they would preserve simplicity in eating, dressing and living in accordance with moral principles. In so doing, they would not have devoted their lives to artificial pleasure of life. But few parents realize that their children are what their example and disciplines have made them. They do not realize that they are responsible for the characters their children develop. If parents could be aroused to a sense of the fearful responsibility which rests upon them in the work of educating their children, more of their time would be devoted to prayer and less to needless display.

Yes, parents should reflect, study the Holy Word and pray earnestly to God for wisdom and divine help for the training of their children. In so doing, their children would develop characters that God will approve and the children will become assets and not liabilities in the society. Then, parents would not have anxiety about the training of their children, but rather about how they can educate them to form beautiful characters that God can approve and humans can appreciate.

Parents are the first children’s teachers in the home. The positive parenting in the home is the foundation of the training that sustains children performance throughout their academic career at all levels of education. Indeed, the influence of parents on children school achievement is well documented in numerous studies.

In the International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, January, 2012, Vol. 2, No 1, p.197, Gadsden (2003) asserts that greater parental involvement at early stage in children’s learning positively affects the child’s educational performance from the elementary to higher academic achievement in the universities. Also, Harderves (1998) reviewed that family whose children were doing well in school exhibited the following characters:

a.    Establish a daily family routine by providing time and a quiet place to study with the children and assigning responsibility for house hold chores.

b.    Monitor out-of-school activities, for example setting limits on television watching, reduce time of playing, monitor the groups of friends the pupils walk with.

c.    Encourage children’s development and progress in school; that is maintaining a warm and supportive home, showing interest in children’s progress at school, helping him or her with homework, discussing the value of a good education and future career with children.

Another significant study in the USA rated four forms of involvement. They are:

1.    Frequency of parent-teacher contact;

2.    Quality of parent-teacher interactions;

3.    Participation in the educational activities in the home, and

4.    Parents’ participation in school activities.

These factors, as well as family background of children, family support, and positive parent-child relationship enhance positive parenting that sustains quality children performances in the universities.

When parents and teachers work together to support learning, children tend to succeed not just in schools, but also throughout life. Some parents would just dump their children in school, pay large amount of money into their account, and assume that they have fulfilled their parental role. Listen to what John D. Rockefeller says, “The most important thing for a young man (or woman) is to establish a credit- a reputation, character.” John said this when he came to realize that money is not so important in life if it is joined to a poor reputation. Your reputation, not your money, is the most valuable currency of all. So, the most accurate predictor of a student’s achievement in school is not income or social status but good reputation, good character. It is the extent to which a student’s parents are able to create a supportive home environment that encourages learning. It is the ability of parents to express high expectations for their children’s future careers. It is also the degree of parental involvement in their children’s education at schools and in the home that makes for proper training and upbringing.

Let me close this section with the following tips for positive parenting I got them from Whatsapp titled, “Some Golden Thoughts of Thirukkural on Positive Parenting”:


1.    If your children lie to you often, it is because you over react too harshly to their inappropriate behavior.

2.    If your children are not taught to confide in you about their mistakes, you’ve lost them.

3.    If your children had poor self-esteem, it is because you ADVICE them more than you ENCOURAGE them.

4.    If your children do not stand up for themselves, it is because from a young age you have disciplined them regularly in public.

5.    If your children take things that don’t belong to them, it is because when you buy them things, you don’t let them choose what they want.

6.    If your children are cowardly, it is because you help them too quickly.

7.    If your children don’t respect other people’s feelings, it is because instead of speaking, you order and command them.

8.    If your children are too quick to anger, it is because you give too much attention to misbehavior and give little attention to good behavior.

9.    If your children are excessively jealous, it is because you congratulate them only when they successfully complete something and not when they improve at something even if they don’t successfully complete it.

10. If your children intentionally disturb you, it is because you are not
Physically affectionate enough.

11. If your children are openly defiant, it is because you openly threaten
To do something but don’t follow through.

12. If your children is secretive, it is because they are sure that you
Would blow things out of proportion.

13. If your children back-answer to you, it is because they watch you do
It to others and think it is a normal behavior.

14. If your children don’t listen to you but listen to others, it is because
You are too quick to jump to conclusions.

15. If your children rebel, it is because they know you care more about
What others think than what is right?

The above tips may guide our modern parenting. To make the practice of these tips effective, fathers and mothers must agree on the method they will use for parenting. They must cooperate on the method for discipline in the family. Parents must agree on how to instruct and guide the children in obeying their teachings. Both must be consistent in guiding the rules that operate in the family. Acceptance, love and firm discipline must be harmonized in the family. Corrections must be made in love and democratic and friendly principles must inform the parental style. Authoritative or Authoritarian or Permissive Parental styles will not bear any good fruit. Ellen White states:

A sacred trust is committed to parents, to guard the physical
And moral constitutions of their children, so that the nervous
System may be well balanced, and the soul not endangered.
Fathers and mothers should understand the laws of life,
That they may not, through ignorance, allow wrong
Tendencies to develop in their children
(Fundamental of Christian Education, p.143).

Most of the children’s problems have to do with appetite and passions. The diet affects both physical and moral health. Therefore, parents, especially mothers should carefully study to supply the table with the most simple and healthy food and drinks. That is to prevent the digestive organs from being weakened, the nerves from being imbalanced and the positive instructions being given to their children, from being contracted. It is the positive parenting that sustains the children performance in the universities.
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The parental responsibility to the children is a divine commission. The most essential parents’ responsibilities revolve around character formation as indicated before. God has given parents their work. That is to form the characters of their children after the divine pattern. With the help of God, they can accomplish the task; but it requires patience and painstaking effort. It also demands fairness and determination to guide the will and restrain the passions of the children. Training of the children is indeed a task that must be done, balancing discipline with love.

Character building is the most important work ever entrusted to human beings. If there was any time this is most needed, it is now. Never was any previous generation called to meet challenges as momentous as the issues faced by our youth of today. Never before were young men and women confronted by perils as great as confront them today. Here is your work, parents, to develop the characters of your children in harmony with the precepts of the Word of God.

My dear parents, this work should come first for eternal interests are here involved. For parents who run after money, position, business and other pursuits and neglect the training of their children, please note that the character building of your children is of more importance than the cultivation of your farms. It is more essential than the building of houses to live in, or of prosecuting any manner of business, trade or politics.

In addition to the above, the International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences of January, 2012, Vol. 2, No 1, p. 198, summarizes the Essential Parents’ Responsibilities as follows:

1.    Provide an environment that is safe: Keep your child free from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, keep unsafe objects locked up or put out of reach of your child, correct any potential dangers around the house. Take safety precautions, lock doors at night, etc.

2.    Provide your child with basic needs: There are some basic needs like water, plenty of nutritious foods, shelter, a warm bed with sheets, blankets and a pillow, medical care as needed/ medicine when ill, clothing that is appropriate for the weather conditions, etc.; that parent must meet for the up keep of their children.

3.    Provide your child with self-esteem needs: Accept your child’s uniqueness and respect his or her individuality. Encourage (don’t push) your child to participate in a club, activity or sport. Notice and acknowledge your child’s achievements and pro-social behavior, encourage proper hygiene (to look good is to feel good, or so they say!). Set expectations for your child that are realistic and age-appropriate. Use your child’s misbehavior as time to teach, not to criticize or ridicule.

4.    Teach your child morals and values: Let your child knows the values of the following qualities: Honesty, Respect, Responsibility, Compassion, Patience, Forgiveness, Generosity, etc.

5.    Develop mutual respect with your child: Use respectful language, respect his or her feelings, opinions, privacy, and individuality.

6.    Involve yourself in your child’s education: Communicate regularly with your child’s teacher(s), make sure that your child is completing his or her homework each night, assist your child with his or her homework, but don’t do the homework. Talk to your child each day about school (what is being studied, any interesting events, etc.). Recognize and acknowledge your child’s academic achievements.

7.    Get to know your child: Spend quality time with your child, be approachable to your child. Ask questions from your child time to time and communicate with him/her always as we know that communication bridge gaps.

The Case of Rebellious Children

It does not matter how faithful and diligent parents may be in carrying out their parental responsibilities. Some children may refuse to heed parental counsel. Parents may do everything in their power to give their children every privilege and instruction in order that they may give their hearts to God and be well behaved. Yet, the children may refuse to walk in the light. By their evil course, they may cast unfavorable reflections upon their parents who love them, and whose hearts yearn after their success and salvation.

It is Satan who tempts children to follow the path of sin and disobedience. If they choose to rebel and refuse to subject their will and way to God, persisting to follow a course of sin, deal with them in love, acceptance and prayers. In their impenitence, the light and privileges for them may elude them. Why? Because they did not walk in the light, but choose to go their own way. Satan is their leader and they become subjects of negative remark in the society. Unfortunately, people will say, “Why, look at those children!” Their parents are very religious; some of them may even be pastors’ children. But you see, they are worse than my own children, and I do not profess to be a Christian!”
In this way, you can see children who receive good instruction and yet do not heed it, cast a reproach upon their parents. They dishonor them and put them to shame before an ungodly society. They also bring a reproach upon their religion, be it Christianity or Islam, through their wicked course of actions. Their academic performances are also shameful. Such students pile up carryovers with CGPA of less than 1.00; some with even less.

Whatever the results, I submit to you parents that it is your work to develop in your children patience, constancy, genuine love and the heart of obedience. You need prayer and the power of the Word to do this. In dealing aright with the children God has given you, you are helping them to lay the foundation for pure and well-balanced characters. You are instilling into their minds principles which they will one day follow in their own families. More than anything else, principles which will help them to succeed here in this world and also receive a welcome into the Kingdom of God. Parents, note that the effect of your well-directed efforts will be seen as they conduct their households in the way of the Lord.
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Every effort we make to respond positively to the divine principles and instructions has a reward. The reward goes two ways: the earthly reward and the heavenly reward.

The Earthly Reward:

With positive parental involvement in the education of a child, from Nursery/elementary school to the tertiary institutions, the child’s good performance is sustained. That is after the father and mother has worked in close cooperation and collaboration with the school, and the child grows and develops in learning and character. This builds a good reputation and the child begins a life of service that makes him or her an asset in the society and a blessing to humanity. Because the home and the school have pursued a unity of purpose in working together to grow and develop the child, the child becomes the best of what he or she desires to be. This makes the child a source of joy and admiration to his or her parents, schools and the society at large. The child has been empowered to make contributions that will make the world better than he or she met it. He or she becomes a pride of the family, the religious community and the world at large. The sky is the beginning of the usefulness and productivity of such children.

The Heavenly Reward:

a.    Children will pay tribute to the faithful parents. When the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened; the “well done” of the great Judge shall be pronounced. Then the crown of immortal glory shall be placed upon the head of the faithful parents. The saved children will raise their crowns in sight of the assembled universe and point to their mothers, saying, “She made me all I am through the grace of God. Her instruction and prayers have been blessed to my eternal salvation.”

b.    Results of faithful training will be manifest. Yes, all who have worked with unselfish spirit will behold the fruit of their labors. The outworking of every right principle and noble deed pursued by parents will be seen. Parents and teachers lie down in their last efforts, their life work seeming to have been done in vain. But little do they know that their faithfulness has unsealed springs of blessings that can never cease to flow. By faith, they see the children they have trained become “a benediction and an inspiration to their fellow humans.” Their influences repeat itself a thousand fold in the human community.

It should be the privilege of God-fearing parents to bring their children with them to the heavenly Canaan. They shall say,

Here am I, Lord, and the children thou has given me.
They are now men and women, grown to manhood and
womanhood, but they are your children all the same.
Your educating and your watchfulness over them
have been blessed by God, till they now stand as overcomers
Now you can say, “Here am I Lord and the children you gave me”
(Child Guidance, p.174).

Here the Lord will tell you to be a partaker of His joy and what is that? It is the joy of seeing the travail of your soul, fathers. It is the joy of seeing that your efforts, mothers, are rewarded. Here are your children; the crown of life is upon their heads. God has immortalized the names of mothers whose efforts have won their children to Jesus.

With joy unalterable, parents see the crown, the robe, the harp, given to their children. The days of hope and fear are ended. The seed sown with tears and prayers may have seemed to be sown in vain, but their harvest is reaped with joy at last. The children of the faithful and obedient parents have been redeemed. Fathers, mothers, may the voices of your children swell the song of gladness in that day when the Lord Jesus returns.
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It can be concluded that when parents come to school regularly to know the well beings of their children, it reinforces the view that school and home are connected and that school is an integral part of the whole family’s life.
Academic achievement improves when parents play the following role in their children’s learning at early stage and even through, to the tertiary institutions:

1.    Parents should create a home environment that promotes learning, reinforces what is being taught at school and develops the life skills.

2.    Parents should contribute their knowledge and skills to the school, enriching the curriculum, and providing extra services and support to students.

3.    Parents should help children negotiate the system, receive fair treatment and work to make the system more responsive to all families.

4.    Parents serve as an advisory councils, curriculum committees and management teams, participating in joint problem solving at every level.

It can be said that the impact of parental involvement arises from parental values and educational aspirations and that these are exhibited continuously through parental enthusiasm and positive parenting style. These in turn are perceived by the students and, at best, internalized by them. This has its impact on student’s self-perception as a learner and on their motivation, self-esteem and educational aspirations. By this route, parental involvement frames how students perceive education and school work and enhances their motivation to succeed.

For younger children, this motivational and value mechanism is supplemented by parental promotion of skill acquisition. Parental behaviors which manifest parental involvement change across the age range. With younger children, direct help with school relevant skills is appropriate and foundational. With older students, activities which promote independence and autonomy more generally become more relevant.
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1.    Establishment of Parent-Teacher Consultative Forum is a necessity to foster cooperation and collaboration between parents and teachers.

2.    Parents need to have input in all the programmes of the university.

3.    Parents need to be involved in the administration of discipline.

4.    The teachers’ work must complement that of parents to foster wholesome growth and development of our children.

5.    The influence of the home counts very much in the formation of our children’s character.

6.    Parents need to be interested in the academic activities of their children.

7.    Parents need to communicate with their children and the teachers regularly.

8.    Parents need to visit their children at the school. It is not enough to give them money and leave them to be on their own. Children need physical and emotional support.

9.    Parents need to be involved in the infrastructural development of the school.

10.    Parents need to be ready to make extra sacrifices in promoting the school and in enhancing the social, academic and physical growth and development of the school.

Prepared by

Pastor Prof. Adekunle A. Alalade
Chairman, PTCF, ABUAD
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1.    Ellen, G. White, Child Guidance, Southern Publishing Association, Nashville, Tennessee, Pp. 169-174.

2.    ——-   Education, E.G. White Publications. P.225.

3.    ——- Fundamentals of Christian Education, Southern Publishing Association, Nashville, Tennessee, 1923.

4.    ——- Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, E.G. White Publications.

5.    International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, January, 2012, Vol. 2, No. 1, Pp. 197-198.

6.    John Marks Templeton, Laws Of Life, Templeton Foundation Press, Philadelphia, 1912.

7.    Review and Herald, June 6, 1899.

8.    Signs of the Times, Sept. 10, 1884.

9.    Signs of the Times, Nov. 24, 1881.

10.    The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 3, Abingdon, Nashville, 1962.

11.    Youth’s Instructor, Aug. 10, 1893.
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