When you read through secular research on young people and decision making, one thing is mentioned repeatedly. Young people have a tough time making consistently good choices. The causes behind it are many and vary some from child to child. What is problematic for Christian parents is that these bad choices can have not just long term, but eternal consequences.
There is a developmental aspect to making good choices, which is probably why God requires baptism of young people only at the age of accountability. As your kids approach that age, it’s important to really focus on decision making skills – especially in relation to what God wants our decisions to be. You can and probably should, start some early training with even very young children. The earlier you start training them, the easier making good choices will be for most kids.
If you have ever homeschooled your child, I am sure you have had this conversation many times. You mention you homeschool and the other parent very quickly says “I could never do that. It’s too hard. (Fill in excuse.).” Now most parents aren’t quite that brave about admitting 100% Christian parenting is too hard, but you can tell they are thinking it. Or that’s it really not that necessary to “try so hard” or “do so much”.
After having ministered to kids and their families for several decades now, I can see a lot of patterns. I watch as parents parent young children in certain ways and then I see how the children grow (or don’t grow) in their faith as they become teens and then adults. It may not be 100% accurate, but it is pretty close. The parents who do certain things and avoid others almost always raise children who become faithful, productive Christians. Those who don’t, may get lucky once in a blue moon or may have adult children who attend church for family, social or business reasons, but there is a definite difference.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Did you know God has a plan for each of your children? Some might argue this verse was only for these people in this time and place, but I believe other verses like, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) point to a more universal application.
The idea God not only knows each of us well enough to know the ever changing number of hairs on our heads, but has made specific plans He would like each of us to do, should excite you as a parent. Of course God has THE Plan – sending His son to earth to die for our sins so you and your kids have the hope of eternal life.
I also believe though, God has things He wants your children to do in addition to becoming a Christian and worshipping and obeying Him. He, who has all wisdom and can see the future, knows your children will have opportunities in their lives to serve others and share their faith. In fact, I believe the Bible reinforces the idea God has uniquely gifted your children to be prepared to meet the challenges those opportunities will provide.
If you have lived in or visited a major urban area recently, you may have noticed a sign that read “See Something, Say Something”. Designed to encourage citizens to report information that could help authorities prevent a terrorist attack, the phrase could also be the best Christian parenting advice I can give you.
Years ago when I was a child, we knew without a doubt that if just about any adult saw us doing something we weren’t supposed to do, they would correct us or worse yet, tell our parents. In fact, it wasn’t always misbehavior.
I had gotten carsick on a school field trip four states away. When we stopped for dinner hundreds of miles from home, by coincidence a family from our village had also stopped to eat there. We drove all night, but by the time our bus pulled into the school parking lot, my parents greeted me with “Why didn’t you tell us you got sick?!”
Oh, how times have changed. Most of us are terribly afraid of correcting a child who isn’t ours – even if their life is in danger. We would never think of allowing anyone to tell us anything about our kids – except on a rare occasion their school teachers. In fact, we were in a situation where a teen was making some scary choices and we were honestly afraid of being sued or worse if we let the parents know what was happening.
“Play not the Peacock, looking everywhere about you to see if you be well deck’t.” Unless you are a huge history fan, you probably didn’t know George Washington had a list of rules to live by that he shared with others. (This was rule #54!) He was known for his humility or modesty and thought it was an important quality of well bred people.
In modern society, modesty has come to mean how much of the naked body a female exposes to the world. I remember vividly having to measure the distance between the bottom of my shorts and my knees in order to attend summer Bible camp. While we don’t want our kids to have clothing that exposes private areas, I always bristled at the idea that it was somehow my fault if a man lusted after me. I had been in urban areas enough times to have men catcall in the middle of winter when everything was covered but my eyes. I wasn’t convinced an extra inch of covered leg would matter to those men.