One of the goals of parenting should be to teach your children how to make better choices. For Christian parents, the challenge is a little more difficult. We need to teach our children how to make choices that are pleasing to God – regardless of whether or not those choices please those enmeshed in the culture around us.
For children with little life experience and often little Bible knowledge, learning to make good choices can be extremely challenging – especially if a choice that appears to have a positive outcome now could actually lead to a negative outcome in the future. The ability to think out beyond the current consequences to potential consequences in the near and distant future is a skill set that must be taught and practiced – preferably with parental guidance.
The first challenge is to teach your children how to act rather than react. To pause, think, pray – perhaps even ask for advice – before saying or doing anything when there is a choice to be made. For some children, it will take time and effort to help them understand they always have a choice about what they will say or do – even if the choice doesn’t offer any pleasant options (which to many children makes them believe there was never really a choice at all).
The next challenge is to get them to analyze the situation. There are two great questions to teach them to ask themselves whenever faced with a choice.
- What choice does God want me to make in this situation?
- What choice does Satan want me to make in this situation?
(Note: There may be more than one option in each answer.)
You may wonder why there is a need to bring Satan into the conversation at all. Because if we don’t consider Satan’s point of view, it is easier to convince ourselves that something that is ungodly is actually godly. Look at the temptation of Jesus. The things Satan was proposing didn’t sound all that bad on the surface. What was wrong with doing things that would have been within his power to do? Satan was even quoting scripture to prove his point!
Yet, Jesus knew God did not want him to use his power in those ways. God’s goals for Jesus in those tempting scenarios was very different from what Satan wanted Jesus to do. By analyzing what God wanted him to do and comparing it to what Satan was tempting him to do, the choice for Jesus was clear. Follow God’s will or do Satan’s. Satan’s way may have seemed easier at the time, but in the long run those choices would have been a disaster.
Give your children lots of examples from the Bible. Help them practice with real life scenarios and then as they have choices to make in their own lives. Make it a habit and they may just find it easier to make godly choices.