Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Now, obviously we cannot be protecting our children by being with them 24/7 (nor would they want us to be). So how can you “train up” your child to follow God when you’re faced with so much opposition in the secular world?
What Your Kids Need From You
As time progresses, the world in which we live has been growing more “politically correct,” and less “correct.” We are very aware of this. Many people who are parents have struggled with the temptations of this world. If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’ve found Christ despite it all. So now you are tasked with a huge responsibility: to raise and protect your child from the temptations of this world and prepare them to live godly lives once they leave home.
So here are some things that need serious consideration on your part.
1. Always remember that you and your spouse are allies.
Your spouse is your partner in raising your family. You need to work together, and not undermine each other. If you are at war with each other, that’s what your children will learn to be like when they get married. If you are in disagreement with each other over an issue, take it outside and away from your children. It’s sad to know that many couples fight, but if ever you’re provoked to do so, never do it in front of your kids and never drag them into it. Also, remember what the Bible says to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22-29 about how to treat each other, and take this instruction to heart.
2. Don’t shelter your kids. Prepare them.
Some parents these days are so paranoid about protecting their child that they’ll go so far as to disinfect and sterilize their home regularly so the child won’t get sick. Sounds like a good idea, right? Except when the child goes to school where bacteria and germs are practically coating every object. When this happens, they get incredibly sick, because their immune system isn’t developed. Sooner or later, your child will be exposed to “the world” and all the temptations and sin that are in it. This isn’t a bad thing. There wouldn’t be any point to the church if we just locked ourselves in our houses and avoided people, waiting for Jesus to come back. Your job as a parent isn’t to keep your kids away from evil, but to teach them how to resist and fight against it and help others do the same.
3. “Do as you say, so they will do as you do.”
That paragraph title might be a little confusing to understand when you first read it, so let’s use the words of country singer Stuart Hamblen, “Don’t send those kids to Sunday school, get out of bed and take them!” You are your child’s example. If you aren’t spending time with God, how can you expect them to do so? Don’t’ rely on the youth pastor or the school teacher to smack some good morals into your kid and raise them for you. If you don’t maintain the example of a Christian lifestyle, you’ll be hard-pressed to convince anyone to, especially your own family.
4. Fellowship with your children.
As Christians, we know that we aren’t to forsake the assembling together with our fellow believers (Hebrews 10:25). Why? Because we edify each other. Likewise, you should be spending time together as a family, especially in prayer and in the Word. Always pray with your kids! Not only does this teach them how to pray, but it is time spent as a family with God. When they are old enough, start reading the Word together. Teach them who God is and what the church is—that it isn’t a special building, but the union of fellow believers to come together and worship God. Your home and your family are always a church as you live together to glorify God.
5. Support your children through prayer
Don’t neglect your own time with the Lord to pray for your family and anything they are going through. If your child has doubts, pray to God to reveal Himself. If they’re feeling sick, pray for them. If they have a big assignment due or a test coming up, pray for them. Your child would be glad to know that you support them if they are trying to succeed at something, even if it’s something you know nothing about or not exactly what you wanted (i.e. you wanted them to be the captain of the football team, but they want to be captain of the chess team). Our children are not us, and we aren’t here to live through them. That’s where many parents need to step back and realize that God has His plans for you and He has His plans for your children.
It’s obvious when you look at families that follow these examples; they tend to get along better and be much stronger in their walk with the Lord than those who don’t. So now ask yourself, parents, if you are following these practices. Do you live the example you want your kids to see? Do you feel you are being the parent God has called you to be?