9 Things Your Kids Need to Learn About Evil

Our world is full of evil. That’s not new. It’s been that way since the Fall in the Garden of Eden. A lot of different factors just make it appear more obvious and pervasive than ever. Your kids may already be asking why some of these evil things are happening. If not, you may want to initiate a conversation about evil.

There are some basic ideas you need to teach your kids about evil.

  • God’s original plan for the world was perfect. When Adam and Eve sinned, they introduced evil into the world. The rest of the Bible addresses God’s plan for us to receive forgiveness for our sins and live with Him in Heaven for eternity. The world being full of evil does not mean God is not a good God. He gave us free will – we are not His robots. He wants us to choose Him. Unfortunately, all of us – except Jesus when he was on earth – have sinned. To be part of that new perfection in Heaven, we have to follow God – which includes becoming a Christian and obeying God’s commands. Sin and evil are because of the poor, sinful choices people have made, not because God doesn’t love us.
  • Satan is alive and active in the world today. Satan is not a myth or a character in a fairy tale. Satan is very real. They also need to know Satan is doing what he can to encourage evil in the world.
  • Satan wants your children to reject God. Your kids need to thoroughly understand Satan is an enemy they are fighting. Satan doesn’t want their property. He wants them to reject God and live a selfish life full of sin.
  • Satan has a bag of tricks at his disposal. You might want your older kids to read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. It does a great job of pointing out some of Satan’s favorite tricks. On a basic level for very young children, you can explain Satan tries to convince them to sin and he also tries to convince them not to do the good things God wants us to do.
  • Even though Satan is tricky, your children have 100% control over their actions. One of the biggest problems in society today is personal responsibility is a concept that is no longer embraced. Your children need to absolutely understand, although Satan is tricky, he does not make the final decision about what to do. Each of your children is entirely responsible for the choices they make. The idea of being “born” to sin is wrong. They may be born with a particular weak spot Satan can exploit (like addiction for example), but your child can still choose to protect that weak spot and not sin. Satan cannot force anyone to sin. It can help to teach them Bible verses that talk about our selfish desires (Philippians 2 and James 4) and how they make us more vulnerable to Satan’s temptations.
  • Each child has different weak spots that will be vulnerable to Satan’s tricks. Does one of your children anger easily? The emotion is not a sin, but the actions that happen after the emotion can be sinful. Satan will know that child has a hot temper and will do everything he can to feed your child’s anger in hopes your child will eventually sin. Your (hypothetical) angry child should receive lots of coaching from you about how to be aware of this weak spot and work on it, so he/she is not as vulnerable to Satan’s attack. Each of your kids will have different weak spots and some weak spots all of your children may have. They all need to be addressed and a plan established for how to avoid Satan’s attacks on these areas.
  • They need to ask for God’s help. Teach your children the power of prayer. If they have been baptized, teach them about how the Holy Spirit can help them avoid temptation. Satan can exhaust even the most spiritual person. We can’t successfully battle him for very long without God’s help. Your kids need to know they aren’t fighting the battle against Satan alone.
  • One way to lessen the amount of evil in the world to is teach people about Jesus and God’s plan for their lives. The world doesn’t understand that evil comes from disobeying God’s commands. They have a movable moral compass, which makes it hard to define and rid the world of evil. In theory, as more people become Christians, the amount of evil in the world should begin diminishing. Of course, this means we also need to encourage other Christians to be more godly (and work on being more godly ourselves).
  • Ultimately God wins. Revelation is a tough book to understand. The biggest lesson from it though is ultimately God wins and takes his people to Heaven. Satan will never be able to touch them in Heaven. Sometimes it seems there is so much evil in the world Satan must surely be winning the war of good v. evil. In reality, Satan is only winning a few battles. The winner of the war itself has never been in question. God will win and your kids need to be on the winning side.

Teaching your children to be watchful against Satan and his tricks, will make it easier for them to make godly choices. Satan will still win a battle or two against your children, but if you have trained them to be watchful he won’t win the war for their souls. That is what Christian parenting is ultimately about – preparing your children to win the war against Satan. Parents always say they just want their kids to be happy. Hopefully, Christian parents have an even more important goal – wanting their kids to spend eternity in Heaven.

Raising Kids in a Noisy World

We live in a noisy world. There’s plenty of actual noise of course, but the noise of culture can be loud and confusing – especially to kids being raised in a Christian home. Culture has decided that if they yell something loudly enough and frequently enough, it becomes accepted as truth. And unfortunately, many times culture is right.

One need only watch a couple of episodes of programming targeting kids or teens and understand the cultural agenda of the people writing and producing it. Sometimes those messages are helpful for our kids to hear. Often though, they are encouraging young people to ignore God’s truths, commands and principles.

Sometimes this noise is obvious as shows openly mock Christians and Christianity. Other times, it’s a bit more subtle as characters openly applaud the behavior of a character who is making sinful choices. On some shows, one or more characters will actually preach a sermon of sorts to viewers to make sure their point is accepted or to give kids things to say when their parents reject the “truths” the entertainment is promoting.

Recently, I watched a smattering of shows targeted for kids on a variety of platforms. What I saw and heard was appalling. A seven year old character, for example, should not be exploring his sexuality. No child that age is prepared to even think about having sex with another human being.

So how can you help drown out this constant noise from culture that is trying to convince your kids that Satan’s lies are not only true, but laudable? Censoring has been a taboo concept in our culture. People who censored what their kids read or saw were – and often still are – thought of as narrow minded and judgmental.

There actually is a biblical incident recorded of a book burning. In Acts 19, Paul was in Ephesus, where many believed and practiced magic arts. We don’t necessarily know everything that entailed, but we do know that when they became Christians, they burned the scrolls they owned that covered the magic arts.

I’m not suggesting you burn books per se, but I do believe it is important to censor what your kids read and watch. Pluggedin.com can help you decide whether a particular form of entertainment is something your kids should experience. It breaks everything down so you can make extremely informed choices.

One word of caution. It’s critical as your kids reach school age that you explain to your kids why you aren’t allowing them to read or see certain things. Memorize Philippians 4:8 as a family. Explain why God wants us to fill our minds with good things, rather than bad. Talk about how exposure can desensitize even Christians to sin, or confuse truth and lies in their minds. If you just censor without explaining in rational terms why you are protecting them, they will sneak and watch or read the item – perhaps paying even closer attention.

There is also another sort of partial censorship. There may be certain books or shows you believe your kids are too young to process and separate the godly from ungodly principles. In those instances, explain at what age you think they may be ready for it. Help them understand why you believe it is best they wait.

You can’t protect your kids from everything. In fact, over protection can sometimes make them too naive and place them in danger. There are some things, however, that kids need to be sheltered from – at least until they are mature enough to process it without being unduly swayed to disobey God. Parental censorship when done well is not narrow minded or judgmental. It’s good Christian parenting.

Giving Your Kids Feedback That Works

Lately, I’ve been watching shows about the great estates in England and their servants. I stared fascinated as the servants actually took a ruler and measured everything on a dinner table to make sure each item was placed in the exact proper place.

Imagine if one of the servants were new and neglected to use the ruler for an important dinner party. What would the owner of the estate say to the servant? More importantly, what would he say to make sure the table was set perfectly the next time?

In parenting, there is feedback or correction that helps our kids learn and grow and there is another kind that confuses, frustrates and eventually discourages them. What are those differences?

  • Helpful feedback is extremely specific and concrete. Children, especially young children, are concrete thinkers. Telling them they need a better attitude or to do something better, means very little to them. If, however, you explain that the fork goes to the left of the plate or that they shouldn’t complain when you ask them to do something, they are more likely to comply. When you give your child feedback, try to hear it from their perspective, but pretend like you are speaking a language they don’t fully understand yet. Do they actually know what those words mean to you and how to do the things you are asking them to do?
  • Helpful feedback often involves demonstrations. Sometimes showing works better than telling. Show your kids how you want them to make their beds or put away their clothes. Have them practice in front of you, giving them helpful reminders as needed.
  • Helpful feedback is developmentally appropriate. A table set by a four year old will look different from a table set by a fourteen year old. You need to consider your child’s age and abilities when giving feedback. Yes, you want to move your children closer to the ultimate goal with your feedback, but don’t push them to do things they aren’t able to do yet or let them off the hook for things they can easily master. It may take some trial and error, but you will eventually get a feel for the right balance of encouraging growth without overwhelming them.
  • Helpful feedback takes into account a child’s personality. Some kids crumble before the first word of feedback, while others need to hear it given in a firm tone before they will even consider paying attention. Being too harsh or too wish washy with the wrong child and your attempts at feedback will back fire.
  • Helpful feedback looks for the root of ongoing issues. As Christian parents, we need to be extremely aware of potential heart issues in our kids. Are you constantly having to give the same child the same feedback because the child isn’t understanding or able to do what is asked or because he or she is developing a rebellious heart? Missing the development of a rebellious heart can lead to heartbreak for everyone in the future. Assuming a child has a rebellious heart when he or she is actually just confused, can do damage to your relationship over time. It’s vital to take the time to explore the root cause with your child before jumping to conclusions and then address that core issue appropriately.
  • Helpful feedback comes from a place of love and concern. Yes, you can openly dislike your children and still teach them how to make a bed properly, but that’s not the ultimate goal of Christian parenting. Christian parents need a close, loving relationship with their kids so they can continue to be an influence, helping their kids grow to be mighty men and women of God. When your kids know without a doubt you love them and have their best interest at heart, they will accept your feedback more willingly and use it to learn and grow.

The next time you give your kids feedback and don’t get the desired results, carefully examine what you said. Structuring your feedback with the tips above in mind, might get you the results you want.

Do the Words You Use Make Christian Parenting Tougher?

Parenting can be tough. Christian Parenting is tougher still, as you try to parent against many cultural norms. Why make it any harder than it needs to be? Sometimes the very words you choose to use can escalate an already tense situation unnecessarily.

There are words that will cause an immediate, strong negative reaction in your kids. You’ve probably noticed certain words they use have the same impact on you. Some words will cause a strong negative emotion in almost everyone, like “hate”. Other words will differ from person to person.

Whether we realize it or not, our brains have noticed which words create a strong reaction in others. When we get angry or upset at someone, our brains seem to choose those words on purpose to cause as much pain as possible. (For our purposes, we will call these hot button words.)

Except, the truth is we make conscious decisions about the words we use. It’s just that it happens so quickly we aren’t always as aware as we should be of what is about to come out of our mouths. We become angry at our child’s disobedience and in addition to correcting and giving consequences, we inflict unnecessary emotional pain by using hot button words as we talk to them.

Using hot button words in parenting immediately worsens any conflict. Because of their limited self control, young children may even have what seems like extreme emotional and behavioral reactions when you use their hot button words – especially in tense situations like correction.

If you aren’t careful, instead of changing a child’s behavior, you are creating an emotional divide that will become more difficult to heal over time. You can be firm and even give consequences without using those hot button words.

Some hot button words should be obvious. It is never acceptable to call children ugly names or curse at them. Any descriptive words should be about the behavior and not implying they define a child’s character. A decision is bad, for example, a child is not a bad child. (Defining a child, rather than the choice, can lead them to believing they will only make bad choices and are unredeemable.)

When things are calm, have a conversation with each of your kids about words and phrases that cause a strong reaction in them. Some will be silly, like “moist”. Others will be those words you need to avoid when possible as you talk with your child. You may even want to share some words you would prefer they not use when they are upset with you.

There can also be household bans on certain words. In our home, “hate” was never to be used in reference to a person…especially if it were in the sentence “I hate you!” Although, we knew we loved each other, we believed it was important to never utter those words to one another – even in anger. Your family may want to work together to make a list of banned words and phrases in your home.

If you or your kids have gotten in the bad habit of using hot button words when angry, you may have to have some sort of consequence to help everyone break bad habits. It’s important to be consistent and allow your kids to give you the same consequence if they catch you using hot button words, too.

If you have been in the habit of using hot button words and phrases when correcting your children, you may find eliminating them will lessen the intensity of many conflicts. You probably sound more rational to your children when you avoid using the words that annoy them and they will quite possibly stay a little calmer in the process. Even if they still get upset, it’s great parenting to avoid calling anyone ugly names or using curse words to emphasize your point when talking to your children. Plus it sets a wonderful, godly example for them to follow in their own speech.

Free Resources for Calming Sibling Troubles

Maybe it was just my brother and I, but given too much time in close quarters and the disagreements started. Who touched whom and who crossed imaginary lines would have challenged the patience of the best world diplomats.

You may currently be experiencing sibling issues in your home. In some ways it’s understandable. Young, immature people…often in competition for parental attention and approval, can become adversaries quite easily. Add mandatory confinement for days on end and you have a sibling battle ready to erupt at a moment’s notice.

You can help your kids become loving siblings who support one another and settle conflicts in godly ways. Contrary to popular parenting wisdom though, your kids will not suddenly, somewhat magically learn these skills while beating each other to a pulp or screaming for parental intervention.

We have too many people in our world who handle conflict in violent, destructive ways now because too many parents believed they didn’t need to actively teach their kids how to resolve conflict in godly ways.

We have a couple of free tools to help you teach your kids how to be loving siblings and settle their conflict in godly ways. Teach your kids the tools and help them practice them. Forcing them to say “Sorry” as they kick the dirt and grimace won’t do the trick. Taking the extra time and effort to really work with your kids can not only make the current situation easier for everyone, but can improve many of their other relationships in the future. It’s worth taking some time while they are forced to stay home to work on the skills they desperately need to learn and master.