How to Pursue the Truth (19) Part Two

Where did we leave off in our fellowship at the last gathering? (At the last gathering, God fellowshipped about “letting go of the burdens that come from one’s family.” One part of this is letting go of expectations for one’s offspring. God explained this to us in two stages: One had to do with parents’ behavior while their children are still minors, and the other concerned their behavior when their children are adults. Regardless of the age of their children, whether they are adults or not, in reality, parents’ behavior and actions go against God’s sovereignty and arrangements. They always want to control their children’s destiny and interfere in their lives, but the path they choose and the pursuits they have are not something their parents can determine. People’s destinies are not something their parents can control. God also pointed out the correct viewpoint with which to view matters: No matter the stage of a child’s life, it is enough for their parents to fulfill their responsibilities, and the rest is about submitting to God’s sovereignty, arrangements, and predestination.) Last time, we fellowshipped about the fact that people should let go of parental expectations for their offspring. Of course, these expectations are driven by human will and ideation, and they don’t align with the fact that God arranges human destiny. These expectations are not a part of human responsibility; they are something people should let go of. Regardless of how great parents’ expectations are for their children, and regardless of how right and proper parents may believe their expectations for their children to be, as long as these expectations go against the truth that God is sovereign over human destiny, then they are something people should let go of. It can be said that this is also a negative thing; it is neither proper nor positive. It goes against parental responsibilities and beyond the scope of those responsibilities, and constitutes unrealistic expectations and demands that run contrary to humanity. Last time, we fellowshipped about some abnormal actions and conduct, as well as some extreme behavior, displayed by parents toward their children who are not yet adults, which lead to all kinds of negative influences and pressure on their children, ruining young children’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. These things indicate that what parents are doing is inappropriate and unsuitable. These are thoughts and actions that people pursuing the truth should let go of, because, from the perspective of humanity, they are a cruel and inhuman way to wreck a child’s physical and mental well-being. Therefore, what parents should do for their children who are not yet adults is to fulfill their responsibilities, not plan, control, orchestrate, or determine their future and destiny. Didn’t we bring up two major aspects of parents fulfilling their responsibilities to their underage children last time? (Yes, we did.) If these two aspects are carried out, then you have fulfilled your responsibility. If they have not been carried out, then even if you raise your children into some kind of artist or talented individual, your responsibility remains unfulfilled. No matter how much effort parents put into their children, whether it means going gray with worry, becoming exhausted to the point of illness; no matter how great a price they pay, how much they pour their heart out, or how much money they dish out, none of these can be considered a fulfillment of their responsibilities. So, what does it mean when I say parents ought to fulfill their responsibilities toward their young children? What are the two main aspects? Who remembers them? (Last time, God fellowshipped about two responsibilities. One is taking care of the child’s physical health, and the other is guiding, educating, and assisting in their mental health.) It’s quite simple. In reality, taking care of a child’s physical health is easy; just don’t let them get too many bumps or bruises or eat the wrong things, don’t do anything that will negatively affect their growth, and to the greatest extent possible for parents, ensure they have enough food, that they eat well and healthily, that they get proper rest, stay free from illness or are only sick on occasion, and get them treated in a timely manner when they are sick. Can most parents achieve these standards? (Yes.) This is something people can achieve; the tasks that God gives people are easy. Because animals can meet these standards as well, if people are unable to meet them, aren’t they worse than animals? (Yes, they are.) If even animals can achieve these things, but humans can’t, then they are truly pitiful. This is the responsibility parents have toward their children’s physical health. Regarding their children’s mental well-being, this is also one responsibility parents should fulfill while raising young children. Once their children are physically healthy, parents should also promote their mental health and that of their thoughts, ensuring that they think about problems in ways and directions that are positive, active, and optimistic, so that they can lead a better life and not be radical, prone to distortions, or hostile. What else? They should be able to grow up to be normal, healthy, and happy. For example, when children start to understand what their parents are saying and can have simple, normal conversations with them, and when they begin to show interest in new things, parents can tell them Bible stories or share simple stories about self-comportment to guide them. This way, children can understand what it means to comport oneself, and what to do in order to be a good child and a good person. This is a form of mental guidance for children. Parents should not just tell them that they should earn a lot of money when they grow up or become high-ranking officials, which would grant them endless wealth and prevent them from suffering or doing hard manual labor, and give them the power and prestige to boss others around. They should not instill such negative things into their children, but should share positive things with them. Or, they should tell their children stories that are age-appropriate and carry a positive educational message. For instance, teaching them not to lie and not to be a child who lies, making them understand that one must bear the consequences of lying, explaining their own attitude toward lying, and emphasizing that children who lie are bad children, and people don’t like children like this. At the very least they should let their children know that they must be honest. Additionally, parents should prevent their children from developing extreme or radical ideas. How can this be prevented? Parents need to teach their children to be tolerant toward others, to exercise patience and forgiveness, not to be willful or selfish when things arise, and to learn to be kind and harmonious in their interactions with others; if they encounter evil or bad people who try to harm them, they should learn to walk away rather than addressing the situation with confrontation and violence. Parents should avoid planting the seeds or thoughts of violent tendencies in their young children’s minds. They should make it clear that violence is not something parents appreciate, and children who are prone to violence are not good children. If people have violent tendencies, they may eventually turn to committing crimes and face societal restraint and punishment according to law. People with violent tendencies are not good people, they are not people who are well regarded. In another respect, parents should educate their children to become self-reliant. Children should not expect food and clothing to just be handed to them; they should learn to do things themselves whenever they are able or know how to do them, avoiding a persistent mindset of laziness. In various ways, parents should guide their children to understand these positive and correct matters. Of course, when they see negative things happen or arise, parents should simply inform their children that such behavior is not good, that this is not what good children do, that they themselves do not like such behavior, and children who do this may face legal punishment, penalties, and retribution in the future. In short, parents should convey to their children the simplest and most fundamental principles of how to comport oneself and act. At the very least, while they are not yet adults, children should learn to practice discernment, to distinguish between good and bad, to know what actions define a good person versus a bad person, what things demonstrate the conduct of a good person, and which actions are considered evil and demonstrate the conduct of a bad person. These are the most basic things they should be taught. In addition, children should understand that some behaviors are despised by others, such as stealing or taking others’ belongings without permission, using their possessions without approval, spreading gossip, and sowing discord among people. These and similar actions are all indicative of conduct of a bad person, they are negative things, and they are not pleasing to God. As children grow a little older, they should be taught not to be willful in anything they do, not to lose interest quickly, or be impulsive or rash. They should consider the consequences of whatever action they may take, and if they know that those consequences could turn out unfavorably or be disastrous, then they should stay their hand, not letting profits or desires go to their head. Parents should also educate their children about the typical words and actions of bad people, providing them with a basic understanding of bad people and standards against which to measure them. They should learn not to trust strangers or their promises too easily, and not to accept things from strangers without caution. All of these things should be taught to them, because the world and society are evil and full of traps. Children should not lightly put their trust in just anyone; they should be taught to discern evil people and bad people, to be cautious of and distance themselves from evil people, so that they can avoid being framed or deceived by them. Regarding these fundamental lessons, parents should guide and direct their children with a positive perspective during their formative years. In one respect, they should strive to ensure that their children grow up healthy and strong during their upbringing, and in another, they should foster their children’s healthy mental growth. What are the signs of a healthy mind? They are that a person has the right perspective on life and can take the right path. Even if they don’t believe in God, they still avoid following evil trends during their formative years. If parents notice any deviation in their children, they should promptly check their behavior and correct it, and guide their children rightly. For instance, if their children are exposed to certain things that happen as a part of evil trends or certain incorrect arguments or thoughts and viewpoints during their early years, in cases where they do not have discernment they might follow or imitate them. Parents should detect these issues early on and provide immediate correction and accurate guidance. This is also their responsibility. In short, the goal is to ensure that children have a fundamental, positive, and correct direction for development in their thoughts, self-comportment, treatment of others, and perception of various people, events, and things, so that they might develop in a constructive direction rather than a wicked one. For instance, unbelievers often say, “Life and death are preordained; wealth and honor are decided by Heaven.” The amount of suffering and enjoyment a person should experience in life is predetermined by God and cannot be changed by humans. In one respect, parents should inform their children of these objective facts, and in another, teach them that life is not just about physical needs, and it certainly isn’t about pleasure. There are more important things for people to do in this life than eating, drinking, and seeking entertainment; they should believe in God, pursue the truth, and pursue salvation from God. If people only live for pleasure, for eating, drinking, and seeking entertainment in the flesh, then they are like zombies, and their lives have no value at all. They do not create any positive or meaningful value, and they do not deserve to live or even to be human. Even if a child doesn’t believe in God, at the very least let them be a good person and one who attends to their proper duty. Of course, if they are chosen by God and are willing to participate in church life and do their own duty as they grow up, that’s even better. If their children are like this, then parents should fulfill their responsibilities toward their underage children even more based on the principles God has admonished to people. If you don’t know whether they will believe in or will be chosen by God, at the very least you should fulfill the responsibilities you have to your children during their formative years. Even if you don’t know or are unable to comprehend these things, you should still perform these responsibilities. To the greatest extent possible, you should carry out what obligations and responsibilities you ought to perform, sharing what positive thoughts and things you already know with your children. At the very least, ensure that their spiritual growth follows a constructive direction, and that their minds are clean and healthy. Do not make them study all kinds of skills and knowledge from a young age under your expectations, cultivation, or even oppression. Even more seriously, some parents accompany their children when they participate in various talent shows, and academic or athletic competitions, following all kinds of social trends and going to events like press hearings, signings, and study sessions, and attending whatever competitions and acceptance speeches at award ceremonies, etc. As parents, at the very least they shouldn’t let their children follow in their footsteps by doing these things themselves. If parents bring their children to such activities, in one respect, it is clear that they have not fulfilled their responsibilities as parents. In another, they are openly leading their children down a path of no return, hindering their constructive mental development. Where have these parents led their children? They have led them into evil trends. This is something parents shouldn’t do. Furthermore, regarding the future paths their children will take and the careers that they will pursue, parents should not instill such things as, “Look at so-and-so, they’re a pianist who started playing the piano at the age of four or five. They didn’t indulge in playtime, they had no friends or toys, and they practiced the piano every day. Their parents accompanied them to piano lessons, consulted various teachers, and entered them into piano competitions. Look at the famous person they are now, well-fed, well-dressed, surrounded by an aura of light and respected wherever they go.” Is this the kind of education that promotes the healthy development of a child’s mind? (No, it’s not.) What kind of education is it, then? It’s the education of the devil. This type of education is damaging to any young mind. It encourages them to aspire to fame, to covet various auras, honors, positions, and enjoyments. It makes them yearn for and pursue these things from a young age, driving them to anxiety, intense apprehension, and worry, and even causing them to pay every kind of price to get it, waking up early and working late to look over their homework and study different skills, and losing their childhood years, exchanging those precious years for these things. Regarding that which is promoted by evil trends, underage children do not have the ability to resist or discern it. So, as the guardians of their underage children, parents should fulfill this responsibility by helping them discern and resist various viewpoints that come from the world’s evil trends and all negative things. They should provide positive guidance and education. Of course, everyone has their own aspirations, and some young children, even if their parents discourage certain pursuits, may still desire them. Let them wish for what they want; parents must fulfill their responsibilities. As a parent, you have an obligation and a responsibility to regulate your children’s thoughts and guide them in a positive and constructive direction. As for whether they choose to listen to you or want to act out your teachings when they grow up, that’s their personal choice, which you cannot interfere with or control. In short, during their children’s formative years, parents have a responsibility and obligation to instill various healthy, proper, and positive thoughts and viewpoints, as well as life goals, in their children’s minds. This is the responsibility of parents.

Some parents say, “I don’t even know how to educate my children. I’ve been muddleheaded ever since I was a child, just doing whatever my parents told me without distinguishing right from wrong. Even now, I still don’t know how to educate children.” Don’t worry about not knowing; it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What’s worse is when you do know but don’t put it into practice, still educating your children exclusively to excel, and saying, “I’m no good anymore, but I want my children to surpass me. The younger generation basks in the light of their elders, and should outshine them. I am currently serving as section chief; therefore, my child must be a mayor, a governor, or even rise to higher levels of government or become the president.” There’s no need to say anything more to such people. We don’t engage with people like this. The parental responsibility we’re talking about is positive, proactive, and relates to the truth. For those pursuing the truth, if you wish to fulfill your responsibility toward your children, but are unsure how to fulfill that responsibility, then start learning from the beginning—it’s easy. Teaching adults is not easy, but teaching children is, isn’t it? Learn and teach simultaneously, teaching what you’ve just learned. Isn’t that easy? Educating your children is easy. It’s even better to fulfill your responsibility concerning your children’s mental health. Even if you can’t do this perfectly, it’s better than not educating them at all. Children are young and naive; if you let them get their information from television and various sources, pursue whatever they like, and think and act as they please without education or regulation, you haven’t fulfilled your responsibility as parents. You’ve failed in your duty, and you haven’t completed your responsibility and obligation. If parents must fulfill their responsibility to their children, then they cannot be passive, but must actively study some knowledge and learning that can help nurture their children’s mental health, or some basic principles related to the truth, starting from the beginning. These are all things parents should do: It’s called fulfilling one’s responsibility. Of course, your learning will not be in vain. During the process of learning and of educating your children, you will also gain something. Because, while teaching your children to develop their mental health in a constructive direction, as an adult, you will inevitably come into contact with and learn about certain positive ideas. When you approach these positive ideas or principles and criteria for self-comportment and action meticulously and seriously, you will unconsciously gain something—it will not be in vain. Fulfilling your responsibility to your own children is not something you do for the sake of others; you should do it because of your relationship to them both emotionally and by blood. Even if your children act or behave in a way that does not meet your expectations after you do this, at the very least, you’ve gained something. You know what it means to educate your children and to fulfill your responsibility toward them. You have already done your duty. As for the paths your children later choose to follow, how they choose to comport themselves, and the destinies that await them in life, that’s no longer your concern. When they reach adulthood, you can only stand by and watch their life and destiny unfold. You no longer have the obligation or responsibility to participate. If you didn’t provide timely guidance, education, and boundaries in certain matters for them when they were minors, you may regret it when, as adults, they say or do unexpected things or display thoughts and behaviors you didn’t anticipate. For instance, when they were young, you constantly educated them, saying, “Study hard, go to college, pursue postgraduate studies or a Ph.D., find a good job, find a good match to marry and start a family with, and then life will be good.” Through your education, encouragement, and various forms of pressure, they lived and pursued the course you set for them and achieved what you expected, just as you wished, and now they are unable to turn back. If, having come to understand certain truths and the intentions of God because of your faith, and having gained possession of correct thoughts and viewpoints, now you try to tell them not to pursue those things anymore, they’re likely to counter instead, “Aren’t I doing exactly what you wanted? Didn’t you teach me these things when I was young? Didn’t you demand this of me? Why are you stopping me now? Is what I’m doing wrong? I’ve achieved these things and I’m able to enjoy them now; you should feel happy, satisfied, and proud of me, shouldn’t you?” How would you feel upon hearing this? Should you be happy or in tears? Wouldn’t you feel regret? (Yes.) You can’t win them back now. If you hadn’t educated them this way when they were young, if you had given them a happy childhood without any pressure, without teaching them to be a cut above the rest, to hold a high office or make a lot of money, or to pursue fame, profit, and status, if you had simply let them be good, ordinary people, without demanding that they earn a lot of money, enjoy so much, or return so much to you, merely asking that they be healthy and happy, to be a simple and happy individual, perhaps they would have been receptive to some of the thoughts and viewpoints you hold after believing in God. Then, their lives might be happy now, with less pressure from life and society. Although they didn’t gain fame and profit, at least their hearts would have felt happy, quiet, and peaceful. But during their developmental years, due to your repeated instigation and urging, under your pressure, they relentlessly pursued knowledge, money, fame, and profit. In the end, they gained fame, profit, and status, their lives improved, they enjoyed more, and they earned more money, but their lives are exhausting. Every time you see them, they have a tired look on their face. Only when they return home, back to you, do they dare to take off their masks and admit they’re tired and want to rest. But as soon as they step outside, they’re not the same anymore—they put on the mask again. You look at their tired and pitiful expression, and you feel sorry for them, but you have no power to make them turn back. They can’t anymore. How did this happen? Isn’t it related to your parenting? (Yes.) None of this was something they naturally knew or pursued from a young age; it has a definite relation to your parenting. When you see their face, when you see their life in this state, don’t you feel upset? (Yes.) But you are powerless; all that remains is regret and sorrow. You may feel that your child has been taken completely away by Satan, that they are unable to return, and you have no power to rescue them. This is because you did not fulfill your responsibility as parents. You are the ones who harmed them, who led them astray with your flawed ideological education and guidance. They can never return, and in the end you are left only with regret. You look on helplessly while your child suffers, corrupted by this evil society, burdened by life’s pressures, and you have no way to help them. All you can say is, “Come home more often, and I’ll cook you something delicious.” What problems can a meal resolve? It can’t solve anything. Their thoughts have already matured and taken shape, and they’re not willing to let go of the fame and status they’ve attained. They can only forge ahead and never turn back. This is the pernicious result of parents providing the wrong guidance and instilling wrong ideas into their children during their formative years. Therefore, during these years, parents should fulfill their responsibility, guide their children’s mental health, and steer their thoughts and actions in a constructive direction. This is a very important matter. You might say, “I don’t know much about educating children,” but can’t you even fulfill your responsibility? If you truly comprehend the world and this society, if you truly grasp what fame and profit are, if you can truly abandon worldly fame and profit, then you should protect your children and not allow them to accept these incorrect ideas from society too quickly during their formative years. For example, when some children enter junior high school, they start to notice things like how many billions of dollars in assets a certain business tycoon has, what kind of luxury cars the richest person in the locality owns, what position another person holds, how much money they have, how many cars they have parked at their house, and what kinds of things they enjoy. Their minds start to wonder: “I’m in junior high now. What if I can’t find a good job after college? Without a job, what will I do if I can’t afford a mansion and luxury cars? How can I become exceptional without money?” They begin to worry and envy those in society who have prestige and whose lives are extravagant and luxurious. When children become aware of these things, they start to take in various information, events, and phenomena from society, and in their young minds, they begin to feel pressured and anxious, and to be concerned about and plan for their future. In such a situation, shouldn’t parents fulfill their responsibility and provide comfort and guidance, helping them understand how to properly view and handle these matters? They should make sure that their children do not get caught up in these things from a young age, so that they can develop the right viewpoint toward them. Tell Me, how should parents address these matters with their children? Nowadays, aren’t children exposed to various aspects of society at a very young age? (Yes.) Don’t children know a lot these days about singers, movie stars, sports stars, as well as internet celebrities, business tycoons, rich people, and multimillionaires—how much money they earn, what they wear, what they enjoy, how many luxury cars they have, and so on? (Yes.) Therefore, parents in this complex society should fulfill their parental responsibility, protect their children, and provide them with a healthy mind. When children become aware of these matters or hear and receive any unhealthy information, parents should teach them to develop the right thoughts and viewpoints so that they are able to step away from these matters in a timely manner. At the very least, parents should impart a simple doctrine to them: “You are still young, and at your age, your responsibility is to study well and learn what you need to learn. You don’t need to think about other things; as for how much money you will earn or what you will buy, you don’t have to take care of these matters—they are for after you grow up. For now, focus on doing your schoolwork, completing the work your teachers assign, and managing things in your own life. You don’t need to think too much about anything else. It won’t be too late to consider these matters after you enter society and come into contact with them. The things happening now in society are the concern of adults. You are not an adult, so these are not things you should be thinking about or participating in. Right now, focus on doing your schoolwork well, and listen to what we tell you. We are adults and know more than you, so you should listen to us, to whatever we say. If you learn about those matters in society, and you follow and imitate them, that won’t be beneficial for your studies and schoolwork—it may affect your learning. What kind of person you become later or what kind of career you will have: These are things to consider later. Right now, your task is to attend to your studies. If you don’t excel in your studies, you won’t succeed in your education, and you won’t be a good child. Don’t think about other matters; they are not relevant to you. When you are older, then you will understand those things.” Isn’t this the most fundamental doctrine that people should understand? (Yes.) Let children know: “Your task right now is to study, not to eat, drink, and have fun. If you don’t study, you’ll waste your own time and neglect your education. The things in society related to eating, drinking, seeking entertainment, and sundry other matters are all matters for adults. Those who are not yet adults should not engage in those activities.” Are these words easy for children to accept? (Yes.) You are not depriving them of the right to know about these matters or to feel envious about them. At the same time, you are pointing out what it is they should be doing. Is this a good way to educate children? (Yes.) Is it a simple course of action? (Yes.) Parents should learn to do this and, so far as they are able, study how to educate and see to their underage children based on their own ability, conditions, and caliber; they should fulfill their responsibility to them, and do all this to the best of their ability. There are no strict or rigid standards for this; it varies from person to person. Everyone’s family circumstances are different, and everyone’s caliber is different. Therefore, when it comes to fulfilling the responsibility of educating one’s children, each person has their own methods. You should do whatever works effectively, what yields the desired results. You should adapt to your children’s personality, age, and gender: Some might need a little more sternness, while others might require a gentler approach. Some might benefit from a more demanding style, while others might thrive in a relaxed environment. Parents should adjust their methods based on their children’s individual situation. In any case, the ultimate goal is to ensure their mental health, to guide them in a constructive direction both in their thoughts and in the criteria for their actions. Do not impose anything that may run contrary to humanity, anything that goes against the laws of natural development or exceeds what they can achieve in their current age range or the extent of their caliber. When parents can do all this, then they have already fulfilled their responsibility. Is this difficult to achieve? It is not a complex matter.

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