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Ask Donnell: Are Children Assets or Liabilities To Their Parents?

Family in Hands

We received the following question;

"My father says to us that we (his children) were liabilities while growing up and now that we are older we are assets to them (parents). I was looking in the Bible to match it up with what my dad said but all I found was children obey your parents and honour your mother and father. I would like to know if children are liabilities or assets to parents."

This is a very interesting question. An asset is something that adds value and a liability is something that costs. Before we get into the scriptures let me tell you the first and easiest thing that comes to mind. From the perspective of the Government, before children reach a certain age, are mature enough to live on their own and/or can pay their own bills they can be claimed as dependents on their parent's taxes. What does it mean to be a dependent? It means someone else is responsible for taking care of you.

Naturally, when babies are born, they are 100% dependent on their parents for survival. They can't do anything for themselves but cry and hope a parent responds. As they develop, children depend on their parents until they get to the stage of their lives when they can take care of themselves. Until that stage, children live in their parent's home, eat their parent's food, occupy their parent's time and cost their parents money.

Unless a child does substantial chores or contributes to the household in some other significant fashion, from a purely financial perspective, it's understandable for parents to consider children as liabilities. After all, they are the biggest expense in the household without providing additional income. That is, until they become adults and no longer depend on their parents, sparing them the expense. In some cases, the roles are switched and children are held responsible for taking care of their parents in their old age.

In other cases, this switching of roles between children and parents takes place before the parents are old. It happens when parents hit tough times and need help from their children and even in extreme cases, a roof over their heads. This is an illustration of how children can become assets to their parents when they become adults. However, there is more to the story than just assets and liabilities. There is a third category that bridges the gap between each. Let's get into the Word of God for the truth.

Psalms 127:3-5(NLT) - Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.

The Bible describes children as both gifts and rewards from God for their parents. Not just that, children are described as arrows in the hands of a warrior and a blessing to their parents. Yes, children cost money when they are young but the payback is priceless in God's eyes. Hence, nobody should consider a gift from God as a liability. Also, when something initially costs but eventually adds value it is neither merely a liability nor an asset, it's an investment. That's the category that children fall into.

The arrow analogy is my favorite. The archer has four main responsibilities; aquiring the arrows, pointing them in the right direction, providing the force to propel them forward and releasing them. Once the arrow is first propelled by the warrior with sufficient force it can take flight on its own. In the end, it travels faster and further than the warrior who released it. It also fulfils the objective of the warrior without the warrior having to be in the same place that the arrow lands. Let's now apply this to parenting.

Proverbs 22:6(KJV) - Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

When children are trained in the way they should go, they are essentially given direction for their lives. The parent has to bear the child, point the child in the right direction, provide the motivation and support to propel the child forward and at some point, release the child. Once released, the parent has to trust The Lord that the child will end up at the desired destination. Sometimes, it might take a while but if it is done right, the end result is always the same. They will eventually hit the target.

Arrows don't travel in a straight line because of the force of gravity. As a result, each arrow takes a unique trajectory before hitting the desired target. In the same way, the path of each child is different so the parent's job is to point, propel and release their child. The rest is up to The Lord. With that in mind, let's wrap this up by emphasizing the multi-generational nature of God's plans. He rarely ever gives someone a big vision that's completely fulfilled in one generation. Hence, children are necessary to carry on the legacy started by their parents.

Genesis 18:17-19(NLT) - “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” the Lord asked. “For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.”

God's plan for Abraham included his children. In fact, God's promise to Abraham could only be fulfilled through his offspring. Look at what the scripture says. Only after Abraham teaches his children and their families the way of The Lord would God fulfill his promise to Abraham. Why does that matter to us? That's how God works. He doesn't just call one man, He calls the entire family. Simply put, the human race (pun intended) is a relay.

One generation passes the baton to the next one to continue running. Abraham passed the baton to Isaac who passed it to Jacob who passed it to Joseph who passed it to Ephraim, etc. all the way until it got to Jesus. Hence, if your parents fulfill God's Will for their lives the baton in their hands will be passed to you so that you can continue the race for your generation. Regardless, even if your parents don't do God's Will, through Jesus the baton of being God's people in the earth has been passed on to us.

So, to tie this entire discussion up, let's settle on a few things. All children are dependent on their parents when they are young. However, as they mature they can become assets to the family by choosing to add value to their parent's lives. They can also remain liabilities beyond the allotted time and drag their families down with bad decisions. In the end, the choice is yours. After all that your parents have invested in your life, have you begun to provide any value for their investment? I hope so. It's expensive to raise a child these days so make something of your life and prove to your parents that it was worth it.

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