Fun Way to Teach Kids to Make Godly Choices

Life is about decisions. Make godly choices and you will have fewer negative consequences that result. Make poor choices and you may spend the rest of your life dealing with the negative consequences. It’s not a perfect system, because we live in a Fallen world. Regardless of how accurately the consequences are given on earth, however, we know God will judge fairly in the end.

The problem is that kids and teens are rarely taught any tools for making good choices. What results is a lot of trial and error. Kids who are attentive, detail oriented and learn from the mistakes of others will often make good choices more consistently. As a result, we think it is some skill set with which we are born and either use or don’t use.

Instead of relying on your kids to self educate on making godly choices, why not give them a few tools to use? We have a free printable parenting guide on the Teach One Reach One Ministries website, but there are several other tools you can give your kids.

One is the decision flow chart. It can be a lot of fun to teach and learn. It’s probably best to start with an example that’s fairly simple and straight forward. Grab some paper and writing instruments and show your kids the example.

Let’s say the choice is whether or not to cheat on a test. Write down the question “Should I cheat on this test?”. Then draw two diverging arrows from the question. On one arrow write “yes” and on the other write “no”. This is a great example, because it illustrates how only thinking out one step can lead to making a huge mistake. This is because the first results are actual deceptive. If your child cheats, he or she will get a good grade and if he or she doesn’t, they may fail.

Then ask them what could happen next. From this point forward, you may have multiple arrows from each option. For example, if they fail the test, they may have additional negative consequences, but they could also get extra help from the teacher or you might hire a tutor to help them.

As the adult, you will need to guide the flow chart at first. They may not have the life experience to realize cheating is lying and they might begin lying to everyone or lose the trust of others because they lied. They may not realize that while extra help and tutoring sound boring, mastering the content is crucial for where they want to go in life.

You can give them more practice using Bible stories. What if the person in the story had made the opposite choice? How might things have changed? There is actually a entire genre of literature based on people in secular history making the opposite choices and what might have happened.

Whenever your child is faced with a decision and time allows, employ this flow chart method. It isn’t perfect, because we live in a fallen world, but your life experience has probably taught you there are definite patterns.

If your child points out times when things didn’t go as expected on the flow chart, talk about it. Explain what happened when sin entered God’s perfect world and disrupted it. Discuss God’s plan of redemption. Remind them of the importance of obeying God, even if Satan gives us negative consequences in the moment for our obedience to God.

Teaching your kids to make good choices takes time and effort. It’s worth it though to help your kids avoid unnecessary negative consequences from using the trial and error method.

Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #6

It’s hard to catch everything on social media, so here are the Christian parenting challenges for the last week. You can use them in the coming week or in any way you find helpful.

Monday: Think of your children’s minds as rooms. They will be filled with what they see, hear, experience, watch, listen, read and learn. If good things were beautiful decorations and things that were dark, depressing, evil and sinful were ugly ones…how would each of your children’s mind rooms look right now? They can’t avoid seeing and experiencing some bad things, but too many children have heads full of horrid things that were put there by the entertainment they choose and are purely optional. Teach them to filter every entertainment choice through Philippians 4:8 and to choose wisely.

Tuesday: “Things that matter are hard”. It’s a line from a movie, but it’s true. Parenting well isn’t easy. Christian parenting well is exponentially more difficult. But isn’t it worth putting in a lot of time and effort to give your kids the strongest faith foundations possible…to give them the best possible chance of making life choices that will make it possible for them to spend eternity in Heaven?

Wednesday: In some ways your kids see the world through your eyes. When you see something beautiful, do you talk about God as the amazing Creator? When you see something crafted by human hands, do you talk about the gifts God gives us so we can do things? When something good happens, do you tell your kids every blessing comes from God? Or do you talk about Mother Nature, brilliant minds and good luck? How you frame the world for your kids is part of their spiritual foundation. Remember to point them to God at every opportunity.

Thursday: Try to take your kids on a walk today. Ask them to point to things that are gifts from God or make them think of God. You don’t have to go far. These are sights within easy walking distance of our home in suburban Atlanta. Spend the rest of the time really listening to what your kids want to tell you or just having silly fun. It’s a great way to spend time on a summer day!

Friday: This roof garden can serve more than one purpose. While it’s growing something needed, it’s also insulating the building below it. Christian parenting can actually be a bit easier when you realize one activity or outing with your kids can serve multiple purposes. When thinking about things to do with your kids, consider how you can also strengthen your relationship or point them to God in some way. You can have fun together and Christian parent at the same time.

Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids to Be Salt and Light

The idea of Christians being salt and light is an abstract concept young children will have a hard time understanding. While you will need to have many conversations over the years about what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:13-18, you can begin with some fun activities.

First grab a flashlight. Go into a room or closet you can make entirely dark. Talk about how hard it would be to read a book or do anything without just a little light. For very small children, you may even bring a book into the room to read to them, but discover you can’t without the light.

Have your child turn on the flashlight. Discuss what a big difference even a little bit of light can make in a dark space. If you have more than one child, have each of them turn on an additional flashlight and show the power of having a lot of people being the light.

Try to explain the verses about Christians being a light in the world. Don’t worry if they don’t entirely understand the connection now. You can continue having conversations over the years as they become more capable of abstract thought.

Then give your kids a salted and unsalted snack. You may have to experiment to find one where the two taste distinctly different. Ask your kids to explain what they believe the salt added to the taste of the snack.

Pull out two pieces of bread. (Non commercially baked breads work better because they have fewer preservatives.) Have your kids put their unwashed hands all over both pieces. One piece of bread should go into a plastic baggie and be sealed. The other should be sprinkled with a tablespoon of salt and placed in a plastic bag so the salt stays on the bread.

Have your kids watch the bread for several days. Which piece of bread grew mold more slowly? Discuss the Bible verses while explaining that salt is used for flavor, preserving food and even disinfecting things. It had so many uses in Bible times (remember there was no electricity, so salting things could also keep them safer to eat) that salt was even used as money at times!

Spend a lot of time discussing what it means for Christians to be salt and light in the world. What are some practical things they can do to be salt and light in their worlds every day?

Teaching Your Kids to Fail Well

Failure is an odd topic in our culture. There are people who believe children shouldn’t experience failure, because it could somehow damage their fragile psyches. Others celebrate failure as something that makes us more approachable and even fun, looking down on those who want to learn, grow and improve from their failures.

As with many topics, God has some things He wants us to teach our kids about failure. Perhaps the first is the definition of failure. God doesn’t define success or failure by how much money your kids eventually make or how famous they become. To God success is living a life that ends with spending eternity in Heaven with Him.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with worldly success obtained in godly ways, your kids need to be taught their ultimate goal. Their standard of success is Heaven and the only real failure is rejecting God.

But what about all of those little failures in life that don’t necessarily have Heaven or Hell consequences? It’s important to teach your kids the difference between mistakes and sins. They have different motivations and different consequences. They also have some differences in how they need to be handled when each of those failures happens.

Mistakes are those little failures that have no connection to the commands God has given us. They may reveal a character flaw that needs additional work, but the motivation behind the original action was not a rebellion against God’s laws.

These mistakes happen regularly as children learn and grow. At times, you need to allow these mistakes to happen – and the natural consequences of those mistakes. Those natural consequences are often the best teacher. If your child doesn’t study enough for a test and misses answers, the consequence of a poor grade should provide the motivation for studying more the next time. There will be times when you will have to help your child make the connections between actions, failures, consequences and how to keep them from happening again in the future.

Other mistakes can arise from the clumsiness that often comes with a growth spurt or a lack of life experience. If no one has ever taught you to separate reds from whites when doing laundry, then the resulting pink clothes are a mistake from a lack of life experience.

Obviously, there are times when these mistakes require apologies, cleaning up the mess they created or making some sort of restitution. In general though, mistakes should be discussed with loving patience. Too much harsh criticism can make your kids so afraid of failure, they may be unwilling to do the good works God has planned for them. Like Moses, they will become paralyzed by their fear of failure – without the benefit of hearing God’s voice to help them work through those fears.

Finally, there are the mistakes your kids will make when they are trying something new. It may be learning a new concept in math or developing the gifts God has given them. They may make mistakes the first time they try to serve someone independently or share their faith. It is so crucial with these mistakes, that your response is encouraging. They need to learn to embrace these mistakes and learn and improve from them. If they stop trying because they are fearful of failure, it is highly unlikely they will ever reach their godly potential.

Sins on the other hand, come from a rebellious heart. Even though children before the age of accountability are not responsible for sins, they need to be taught that rebellion against God is unacceptable. Of course, this begins with rebelling against your authority by disobeying your rules. These failures are heart issues at their core – a selfishness that puts one’s own desires ahead of obedience and respect.

Heart issues are tough, but if dealt with at young ages you can help mold your kids hearts towards God. These failures must be discouraged and the heart molded away from selfish rebellion or your kids will have great difficulty obeying God as adults.

If your kids are old enough to become Christians, then it’s time to really focus on repentance and forgiveness. It’s important they understand repentance is not a kicking the dirt, glum, “sorry” to God. It is truly mourning the sin, asking God for forgiveness, thinking of ways to avoid committing the sin again and making any necessary restitution.

Failure is a complex subject, but taking the time and effort to help your kids understand it through God’s eyes can make them more resilient, more likely to use their gifts to serve God and share their faith and less likely to live a life enmeshed in sin. It’s worth every second you put in to helping your kids navigate failure in godly ways.

Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #6

How was your week? Do you need some ideas or encouragement on your Christian parenting journey? If you missed our daily social media challenges this week, here’s a re-cap.

Monday: Your kids may feel stress over the changes and events over the last few months. Teaching them healthy, godly coping techniques – like sitting beside flowing water, prayer, exercise, talking about their feelings and more can keep them from experimenting with less godly ways to cope. It takes some guidance from you because each they need to be taught the techniques and they need to be reminded to use them when they get stressed. It’s worth your time and effort though to prepare them to better handle life in this fallen world.

Tuesday: One day soon this space should be full of beautiful wild flowers. It doesn’t look very promising at the moment, however, other than the sign. If the planters continue to care for this plot though, the area will begin to show more promise each day. One or more of your kids may appear to have little potential for any variety of reasons. It’s important to remember though that God gives every child potential. They all require love, nurturing, teaching and coaching -preferably from their parents – to most easily reach that potential. You have to believe in that potential to do the good works God has prepared for each of your children. They will be different works perhaps, but they all have value to God. Put in the time, effort and love and you may be pleasantly surprised to see beautiful flowers of your own in the future.

Wednesday: This path was clearly marked so no one would accidentally wander off of it and get lost. Have you helped clearly line God’s path for your child so they won’t accidentally wander off? Often young people start off the path because it hadn’t been clearly marked and they were very far off before they realized what happened. Have regular discussions – conversations, not just lectures – about what God wants for them and from them in life.

Thursday: Have you ever seen a tree with a hollow trunk? It means the tree is dying, even if it still has pretty leaves. The first strong storm will blow it over. The faith of many young people can be hollow. They know what adults want to hear and may say it without believing it. A young person with hollow faith is much more likely to be carried off by the world. Have lots of conversations with your kids – encouraging them to tell you what they really think. Don’t panic when it isn’t what you wanted to hear. Instead, help them work on strengthening their faith where it might be hollow. Then they will be more likely to resist the storms of the world.

Friday: This lichen gets its strength from the tree to which it is attached. From where do you get your strength? On whom do your kids depend upon when they need extra strength and you aren’t around? If the answer isn’t God, none of you may be as strong against life’s struggles as you could be. Teach your kids how to get their strength from God and show them how by leaning on God yourself.