By Laurie Ann White
May 26, 1985
When I lived at home and had important decisions to make, my mother was always there with her opinion of what she thought was best for me and I was obligated to listen. I usually got very defensive and would storm off to my room, only to seriously consider what she had to say, once I cooled off. I knew she'd given the advice out of concern for my best interest. It was also clearly understood that the decision was solely mine.
Looking back at this, I see that my listening to her advice was right but my reaction was wrong.
I remembered these times several years later when I found myself wary of teaching my mother the truth for fear of what her reaction might be. I decided that I would tell her what God said is best for her because I was her daughter and loved her (the same reasons for her making me listen to her advice). I hoped that, regardless of what her reaction might be, she would listen to and consider God's advice, as I had hers. It was, of course, understood that it was up to her to accept or reject God's word.
Sydney J. Harris once said, "Most of us tend to exhibit absence of mind rather than presence of mind when we are criticized or rebuked, justly or unjustly." I think this is true. God does not want it to be that way. We should be careful to "listen to counsel and accept discipline." (Prov. 19:20a) Proverbs 15:5 says that "a fool rejects his father's discipline, but he who regards reproof is prudent." Verse 31 says, "He whose ear listens to life‑giving reproof will dwell among the wise. He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding." Our presence of mind during instruction and rebuke is essential to godly living. This is, however, not an easy thing to do for many. I believe the degree to which we are able to do so is due largely to how we were raised.
Children need to learn to listen to instruction and accept discipline. "A wise son accepts his father's discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke." (Prov. 13:1) Proverbs 23:22 says, "Listen to your father who begot you and do not despise your mother when she is old." Accepting instruction and the discipline of God will come easier to one that has learned as a child to accept it from his parents.
This would do much to minimize that problem encountered by some called the generation gap. Yes, there are basic differences in the older and younger generations, but in the family and the Church these differences were meant to compliment each other.
That is why Paul told Titus in Titus 2:3‑5 that the older women should teach the younger women. If the older women feel that their ideas are outdated (are God's principles ever outdated?) or feel they are imposing if they offer advice, and if the younger women are unwilling to ask for or receive instruction or accept reproof, how can one benefit from the wisdom of the other? Just as the younger men should set definite goals for their spiritual maturity (i.e. to be a Bible class teacher, preacher, deacon, or elder) and begin working toward that end early, so should the younger women strive to be qualified one day and look forward to the day when they will be able to teach the younger women
When the older women are actively teaching the younger and the younger are asking for and eagerly listening to their advice, everyone benefits from their wisdom. The older women benefit because they are useful in the work of the Lord. Since their family is grown they have more time to spend in study and service to the Church than they did when raising a family. The younger women benefit because they become more confident that the way the are raising their children is good and right and they are better wives and mothers. The husbands, children, society and the Church benefit as well.
It is the older woman's knowledge of God's principles and practical application of them in her own marriage and in training her children that makes her most suitable to teach younger women about these things. Because of her experience she is better able to see difficulties another is having, offer assistance and develop relationships that allow her advice to be sought after, given freely and received thankfully.
Let us all do our best to accept the discipline of God, whether through his word, or coming to us by means of our parents, our preacher, our teacher or our elders in the Church, including the elder women.
"The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:3‑5