Each year, Americans spend $24 billion on their children. Much of that is for essentials, but billions go for an endless catalog of “things”— Furbies, Barbies, Beanies, CDs, TVs.

Is it wrong to spend so much on children? That question doesn’t have an easy answer. The tougher question is this: Do parents spend money on their children so they don’t have to spend time with them? One study, reported in The Wall Street Journal, left that impression. It revealed that the majority of 10- and 11-year-olds have a TV in their rooms and can watch whatever they want.

The real issue is not the money but the reason for spending it. Do parents want to entertain, to indulge, and to buy their children’s love? Or do they want to train their children in godliness? That requires careful instruction from the Bible.

It takes time to “train up a child” (Prov. 22:6). It takes perseverance for a parent to discipline (Prov. 3:12). It takes effort to teach God’s principles (Dt. 4:9). It takes wisdom to be fair (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21). It takes diligence to manage a family well (1 Tim. 3:12).

The truths and principles of the Bible, taught with time, perseverance, effort, wisdom, diligence—that’s what to give our children.