As an adult, have your parents ever said something they obviously thought was common knowledge, but which surprised you? When you ask why you weren’t told, they will often say they thought you knew.
As parents, it is easy to assume your child will naturally pick up certain knowledge and skills. After all, they learned to talk didn’t they?
Some children are very savvy. They can be born into horrible environments with no support and turn out to be adults you would think had been raised with every possible advantage. The vast majority of kids though, need intentional training to develop the skills to be successful in life and in the Church.
Schools and churches teach our children only a very small portion of the knowledge and skills they need to soar. Yet, many parents assume their role in training their children is minimal at best. They don’t remember very much about being trained by their parents and assume since they “turned out okay”, their children will too.
Sadly, our memories of childhood are often skewed. Do you remember being taught to hold a fork properly? Do you have any memories of being taught how to find a specific scripture in the Bible? Even though we don’t remember many of the actual experiences, most of the skills we have were taught to us by someone. Those which weren’t, we self-taught.
Self-teaching can have its advantages. Unfortunately, there are often multiple ways of doing things. Without context and direction, our children may learn to do things in a way which is very bad for them. When we assume others are teaching our children, we lose our chance to really influence our children for God.
Over the years, I have noticed many parents consistently making assumptions about areas where they assume their input is not needed from their child. Not only are they wrong, but their children are paying the price for their assumptions. Here are some inaccurate assumptions I hear and see regularly:
- My child is getting plenty of Bible at Church and/or at his private Christian school. The reality is your child is very likely getting many of the same stories over and over and has large gaps not only in basic Bible knowledge, but understanding. Your child needs you to really know what she is being taught about the Bible and help make any necessary corrections or fill in any gaps.
- My child understands basic godly principles and what God expects of him. Often Bible classes focus so much on the story, the practical implications of the story are not taught. Other times, one concept is focused on to the exclusion of equally important principles. Your child may be reading her Bible, but not realize each story has clues about God’s character and what He expects from us in them. Make a list of the basic godly principles you want your child to understand. Use every opportunity to teach them to your child. Show your child how to put the concepts into practice every day of his life.
- My child knows how to behave in a godly way. Characteristics like self-control, kindness, gentleness, truth telling and more are actually taught. Unfortunately, many children learn how to behave only by observation. They are never taught godly behavior as an expectation or even what those concepts look like when put into practice. They see the people around them (not necessarily parents) lying, being hateful, acting out in anger and more on a regular basis. As a result, our schools and churches are filled with children who are unkind, disrespectful, violent and out of control. Take the time to correct any ungodly behaviors you see in your child. Make sure the behaviors are not coming from a heart that is slowly, but steadily moving away from God. Along with any necessary consequences, help your child understand why God does not want us to act that way and the proper alternative behavior.
- My child knows I love her. You may love your child dearly, but do you actually say the words on a regular basis? Do you give your child positive physical touch multiple times each day? Do you place a high priority on training your child and teaching him about God? Do you give your child your full attention for a significant amount of time almost every day and have meaningful conversations with him? Do you make it a practice to attend your child’s activities and participate in the things that interest her? Do you know your child’s love language and are you speaking it to him regularly? You may think your child knows you love her, and be very surprised at how very unloved by you she actually feels.
What other inaccurate assumptions have you seen parents make or have you made yourself? I would love for you to share your thoughts in a comment below.