On Raising Children

An elder said:
Prayer is trusting God. When your trust is completely in God, it is not even necessary to pray for something, for God takes over. It's just that one ought to wait with patience for
the fruit to ripen and fall off the tree. Therefore, parents, trust your children in God.
For you have given them only your flesh, but God has created their souls. So He is obliged to take care of them.

Another elder offered the following thoughts:
A child needs a lot of guidance and love. Watching television is destructive.
A man gives his flesh to his child. God creates a child's soul. When a child grows up, the parents are not responsible for him any longer. God assigns a guardian angel to every person born, to help him through his entire life. Therefore should we not trust in God ourselves?
You ought to help your children to a point. Beyond that, leave them under God's care. Their guardian angel is al- ways by them. One might say, 'If a person yields to temptation, his guardian angel stays away. But the angel does not despair; he stands nearby. Even when one goes astray, still God through the guardian angel sends good thoughts to that person.
We should not distance ourselves from God, for that is so painful. The guardian angel tries throughout one's life to introduce good thoughts, waits and suffers, is saddened when a man commits a sin, and stands before God empty-handed. Let us think about that! That alone creates such pain! If for only this reason, one should not distance himself from God's presence by refusing to do His will. Some angels with some effort, and some with none at all, present a man's soul to God. But other angels with great effort, torment and suffering come before God empty-handed. It is so painful. Imagine! It is worthwhile for one to strive with dignity so that his guardian angel might not be hurt. There are many people who have seen their guardian angel. If only one can see his angel, he will not ask for anything else. When we see little infants smile when sleeping, it is because they see their angel.
You ought to teach small children how to pray, for God answers their prayers. The children's prayer ought to enter their hearts. There is no benefit from a prayer unless it is from the depth of one's heart.
Try to help children when they are small with kindness, so that they experience a deeper meaning of life. Always treat them with kindness.

To his visitors an experienced ascetic gave good advice on raising children:
I am still sad because I did not go to confession until I was eighteen years old. I am still sad about it. When a child is about six to seven, it is time to see a spiritual father. Let it be so.
So, as soon as you return to your homes from the Holy Mountain, pay attention to your children, catechize them, and guard them, especially with your prayers. Pray as Patriarch Jacob prayed for his children. Pray like this 'Holy Theotokos, protect, help and oversee my children.' Also cross yourselves while praying and chant a hymn to Panagia. Watch over them. Make sure you know where they go at night and with whom they keep company. For bad company destroys good morals. Your child might be good, but someone else's might be a bad influence on him. This is my advice to all lay people.

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