There Is a Way to Resolve the Generation Gap (Audio Essay)
Brothers and sisters,
Recently my relationship with my son has been particularly strained. As he has grown older, the generation gap between us has got deeper and deeper. My son is now in junior high school and I am worried that he will play games online and put off studying. I am also worried about him experiencing puppy love and learning bad ways and so I often watch him. To prevent him picking up bad habits, I check whether there is anything bad on his cell phone. Unexpectedly, he was particularly angry and disgusted after he found out and even asked why I controlled him. My son’s words made me extremely sad. I am his mother. If I do not care for him who will? Isn’t my so-doing for his own good? How come he cannot understand me? He has not spoken to me for several days because of this. I feel so distressed that I can only pray to the Lord. But no matter how much I pray I cannot feel the Lord’s presence. Now I do not know what to do. A sister told me that brothers and sisters of The Church of Almighty God often help her overcome difficulties, so I am sending you this letter in the hope that you can help me.
Hello! Thank you for putting your trust in us. Actually, it is God’s words that can truly solve our difficulties. We hope that through our meager power we can spread more of God’s words to enable brothers and sisters to get help from God’s words.
From your letter we can see that there is a generation gap and misunderstanding between mother and child and a lack of mutual trust and this is why you feel anguish and sorrow and do not know what to do. Actually, handling the relationship between mother and child well is not as difficult as we imagine. We need only grasp a few principles and we will find that the generation gap between mother and child can be resolved.
1. Entrust Your Children to God
Nowadays, evil trends spread across society, things are getting worse and worse in the world every day and unscrupulous things can be seen everywhere. We are afraid that our children will learn bad ways and discipline them. This makes sense. This is parental responsibility. But we must know that our power has limits. People cannot change others. Only God is the truth, the way and the life and only God’s words can make people understand the truth and see through the darkness and evil of the world and thus stay away from Satan’s harm and deception. Only God can change people and lead people onto the right path. Therefore, God is the only One we can depend upon and man is powerless. Although it looks like it is parents who raise children into adults, we cannot as parents decide or make arrangements for children to learn good or bad ways or take a certain path. As Joseph’s story recorded in the Bible, Joseph was the most loved child of his father Jacob, but Jacob could not determine Joseph’s experiences in life. Joseph was alone at the age of seventeen when he was sold in Egypt; he was still a boy. He left his father and eleven brothers and became a slave in Egypt. He was subsequently falsely accused and sent to prison. But Jehovah God was with him and not only protected and led him but also gave him superior wisdom. Later, he interpreted dreams for the Pharaoh of Egypt and became the prime minister of Egypt. He prepared for the seven years of famines and saved his entire family. There is no doubt that Joseph experienced hardships, but he was able to grow up peacefully and accomplish much. It was all due to God leading him and silently keeping watch over him by his side. (See Gen. 37, 39). As it says in the Bible: “And he that believes on him shall not be confounded” (1 Pe 2:6). From Joseph’s growth, we can see that our destiny is dictated and arranged by God. It is also God who leads us to grow up and therefore we can completely entrust our children to God and obey God’s arrangements. This is the wise choice.
2. Learn to Let Go and Give Our Children Free Space
Although children are always children in our eyes, they constantly change as they get older. Their horizon gradually broadens, their thinking becomes enriched and they start to establish their own outlook on life and values and to have their own hobbies and pursuits. They gradually develop their own cognitive ability and judgment on everything. At this point in time, children need space for them to develop independently. They need parental company, supervision and positive guidance, but not control. If we worry about whatever they do and take charge of everything as if everything of theirs is in our hands, then this will only pressurize and constrain children and also affect our relationship with our children. As God said: “Parents raise their children from infancy to adulthood, nagging them and looking after them throughout. How do parents see time? Whether twenty or thirty years later, their attitude toward their children is the same as when they were born, it doesn’t change. The child has, in fact, long since grown up, he’s long since established his own way of thinking, state of mind, insight, and viewpoints—he’s long since had these things—yet the adults never realize this, they can never keep up, they always talk and interact with the child as if he’d just been born.” “In particular, parents always treat their children like slaves, or else spoil them, overindulge them, and dote on them like a kitten or a puppy, whilst holding them tight, keeping a tight rein on them, strictly controlling them—with the result that the child stops being a child, and being a parent becomes very tiring. Why is it tiring? Why is it hurtful? Why doesn’t your child listen to you? Why, having put in all this effort, doesn’t the child understand you in the slightest? Doesn’t this serve you right?” (“What Should One Possess, at the Very Least, to Have Normal Humanity” in Records of Christ’s Talks).
God’s words are very clear about our awkward relationship with our children. The reason why we have a generation gap between us and our children is because before we know it our children have grown up and start to have their own thoughts and views, yet we still think of them as a little baby held in our arms every day and always control them according to our own ideas and ask of children as we desire. In doing so, children have to rebel. The root cause of this problem is predominantly because we do not know about the laws of growth that God has determined for people. This results in the kind of parent-child relationship as revealed in God’s words, “The child stops being a child, and being a parent becomes very tiring.” In fact, as long as we can see the fact that our children have grown up, learn how to respect them and do not make demands of them based on our own standards then our relationship with our children will be harmonious. Otherwise, you will only tire yourself and give your child a hard time. For us, children are like kites. We want to see them fly high, but we are afraid of them being too far from us, so we always want to let them go yet we cannot bear to do so. At this time, we must recognize this fact: Children will always grow up. If we always want to keep a firm hold on them, both sides will suffer. So we must learn to let go and to give children a free space for growth.
3. Put the Parent Status to One Side and Treat Children on an Equal Footing
When educating our children, we often hear parents saying: “I am your mother (I am your father), so you should listen to me. I’m doing all this for you.” Very often, it’s this kind of power control which increasingly alienates us from our children and even sours the relationship. In fact, this kind of control is not as per God’s will and is the manifestation of our arrogance. All of us are created by God, yet God is humble and hidden. He never suppresses us in His capacity as God. He does not force us to listen to His words or to act according to the truth. Nor has He said how He will treat us if we do not act according to His words. Rather, He gives us the space to choose freely. This is God’s attitude and manner toward us, created humanity. We are created beings just like our children and our status is equal. What right do we have to demand that our children listen to us and do as we demand? If we always take the position of the parent and control children with power then this is a manifestation of our arrogance, conceit and lack of reason. Children actually resent this about parents the most. If we can resolve this problem, we can get along with our children properly. How can this problem be resolved? God’s words say: “Treat your children and other members of your family the same as you would ordinary brothers or sisters. Although you have a responsibility toward them, and a relationship of the flesh with them, nevertheless, the position and perspective you should have is the same as you should have with friends or ordinary brothers and sisters. You absolutely must not stand in the position of a parent, and must not hold your children back, fetter them, or try to control everything about them. You should treat them as equals. You should allow them to make mistakes, to say the wrong things, to do childish and immature things, and to do stupid things. No matter what happens, you should sit down and calmly talk with them, and seek the truth. In this way, you will be talking to them with the right attitude, and the problem will be resolved. What are you letting go of here? You are letting go of the position and status of a parent, the airs of a parent, and all of the responsibility you think you should assume as a parent; instead, it is enough that you do the best you can in terms of responsibility as an ordinary brother or sister” (“What Should One Possess, at the Very Least, to Have Normal Humanity” in Records of Christ’s Talks).
God’s words have pointed out the actual path to resolving this parent-child relationship. That is, that we must let go of the parental position and status and treat children as our equals, as God demands. We must learn how to communicate with our children and open our hearts to them, listen to them patiently, understand children’s true thoughts and difficulties, help them learn how to distinguish right from wrong according to God’s words and guide them to have the right pursuits and life goals. When children make mistakes, we must not teach them based on corrupt disposition, but instead communicate with them based on love and patience and give them time and process to change. Just as when we lie, deceive and sin against God, God gives us the opportunity to repent and change. He uses love to influence and God’s words and the truth to shepherd, supply and support us. When we practice in this way, children are willing to be close to us, and there will be no difficulties in getting on with our children.
When getting along with children, some brothers and sisters practice in this way: They lead the child before God and bring the child to pray to God and read God’s words. Under the leadership of God’s words, children will be able to distinguish, know what actions please God and what God loathes. In everyday life, children will also rely on God, actively practice the word of God and shun all kinds of evil habits, eschew temptation and be guarded and cared for by God. When their children make mistakes sometimes, they can correctly deal with their mistakes according to the word of God, come before God with their children and seek the truth to resolve the problem. Both parent and child can practice the word of God and live by the word of God. In this way, they will surely be blessed by God, the generational gap between parent and child and any misunderstandings between them will disappear naturally and the relationship will return to normal.
In fact, all relationships between people today are particularly tense. From society to family, from groups to individuals, there are no normal interpersonal relationships between people. This is all because mankind has been too deeply corrupted by Satan. Everyone is full of Satan’s corrupt disposition: being arrogant, conceited, self-righteous, self-important, crooked, deceitful, and selfish. This is the root cause of tensions between people. But as long as we all come to God to pursue the truth and resolve our corrupt disposition, are able to live by the word of God and be honest, then the bright, peaceful, harmonious good life that mankind yearns for shall naturally appear, and we will also receive God’s protection and blessing, live in God’s light and have a happy life. Therefore, the best medicine for resolving the generation gap problem is in the word of God because Almighty God says: “My words are the truth, the life, and the way; they are a sharp, double-edged sword, and they can defeat Satan. Those who understand and have a path to practice My words are blessed” (Utterances of Christ in the Beginning).
Sister, we hope that our fellowship can bring you a little help in resolving your difficulties. And finally, may God lead you and bless you! We also hope that your relationship with your son will return to normal as soon as possible under the leadership of God and that there will be no more anguish. May you both live in the word of God and receive God’s care and protection. All glory be to God, Amen!
Brothers and sisters of The Church of Almighty God