About a year ago, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of moms about their kids and the outside influences that are vying for their attention.
Confession: I’ve always felt a bit unequipped when it comes to “mom talk” primarily because I only have one (12 going on 25) child. I haven’t raised a small army, don’t have the vantage point of the mother who has already raised up her children, nor do I have the hindsight that comes from navigating multiple ages, seasons, and experiences.
What I do have is the here and now, a healthy dose of things I’d do differently, and a heart fixed on raising a young man who follows hard after God. With that said and wrangling my own insecurities into submission, I thought I’d share a few of the words I spoke to those moms, with you …
Times have changed and our children live in a world that is marked with challenges that we didn’t face. They are moment by moment asked to make choices between right and wrong and we as parents have the daunting task of preparing them to navigate the things that they see and hear all around them. We don’t have the luxury of being indifferent or passive – the world is gunning for our kids.
As believers, our call is to go out into the world; to be salt and light, to spread truth. We are to infiltrate, not isolate.
As attractive as a bubble might be to keep them safely hidden from the world, we are not going to isolate our children from outside influences. Our job is to equip them – to be deliberate, wise, to choose the more excellent way – to follow hard after God and His Word. We want their compass to point to Him as True North.
Whether they are 2 or 20, your kids, grand-kids, or just ones you occasionally borrow, here are some practical ways to follow after God in our parenting:
1. Don’t Phone It In:
A good old face to face chat is a pretty rare thing. Texting, social media, and an electronically connected society means that our kids have at-their-fingertip access to an instantly ushered in world of information. A great deal which is nonsense and lies wrapped in very attractive packages.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 commands us to diligently teach our children…to talk about God’s word when we sit, when we walk, when we lie down, when we get up. It tells us to talk and keep talking.
We need to have the hard conversations with our kids where we are staring them in the eyes and setting boundaries, defining limitations and consequences, and letting them know what our expectations are – what God’s expectations are.
Our lines of communication should be open, consistent, and travel both ways. We speak to be heard and we listen to understand. If they are delighted and excited, scared or confused, conflicted or misunderstood, when they’ve made a mistake – our kids should feel able to run to us.
If you are unapproachable with the small things, they certainly won’t come to you with the big.
We are the safe haven – the soft place to land. While the Lord is their guard and guide, we are the front line of defense. And while consequences are quite often necessary and follow through is a must, we receive our kids with grace, love, and acceptance – the same way we [sinners] are received by our Father.
2. Be the Person You Want Them To Be:
If you want to guard them from outside influences – start with positive influence at home. Your kids are watching – and we are the first person they see. If we are taking liberties with the very things we are trying to restrict them from, it is going to send a very confusing message. Please know, this is bathed in grace and a heap of personal conviction …
- Do you tell them not to lie, but then lie yourself – even the little white ones?
- Are you exhorting them not to engage in underage drinking, smoking, or sexual sin but you are modeling overindulgent behavior yourself?
- Do you demand respect when they speak, but engage in the opposite with their father or other adults?
- Do you long for them to seek God and His word, but you haven’t gone to church or cracked your bible in a month?
Your kids are going to wonder why – and then they’re going to ask. Are your prepared to answer them?
“Christianity is not about keeping a set of rules. It is about being rightly related to God by grace through faith in Jesus.” Chuck Swindoll
Be honest and be real. The bible is full of hard lessons learned and our own missteps can be quite compelling to our kids. Let them know you warn them from experience and a well established path of faith. If our children don’t receive honesty at home, they are going to go looking for it elsewhere. The world and all its temptations are ready and waiting to deliver a totally skewed version of truth to our kids.
They need to know your truth and they need to know God’s truth.
There are NO perfect parents and there are NO perfect children. We aren’t perfect people – it’s why we need a perfect Savior.
We want our children to strive for excellence, not perfection. A bad choice does not make a bad person. Mistakes and failures are not the end of the world. Failure is simply an opportunity to exercise growth. We lean [into Jesus], we learn [to pursue forgiveness], and we survive [by mercy and grace to live another day of faith].
We need to talk to our kids about more than what God’s word says, but why God’s word works.
Teach through the teachable moments. Make God’s word relevant and applicable to them on the playground, the school bus, and the high school campus. Then it will be relevant everywhere, always.
His word is alive, so don’t can it and cage it in hidden meaning. You don’t need a degree in theology and a 5 point sermon. You just need to sit and speak truth. It takes a few intentional moments of time – which usually matches our kid’s attention span quite nicely.
God’s Word Works – 12 Verses to Speak to Your Kids (Please enjoy this printable PDF)
I’ll share the second part of this message next week and tackle the question – Will Our Kids Know How to be Still: Social Media, Friends and Followers. I pray you found a few nuggets of insight and wisdom here. I’d love to hear what works for you as you fling wide the doors of communication with your children.
Photo Credit (Text Overlay by Tiffany Parry)