Without a doubt, the best book you and your children can read is the Bible. You don’t have to worry about whether or not the authors are accurately communicating God’s will for your life. As the inspired word of God, you can rest assured the Bible has everything you need to support you and your kids in your efforts to live a Christian life.
Even if your teens read their Bibles daily though, they will be reading lots of other books during their high school and college years. Some will be written by people who make no claim to try and communicate any sort of values or will admit their books have no intrinsic value other than entertainment.
The books that scare me are the ones my daughter might read that are written by Christian authors. There is a tendency to assume that since most of the authors are famous ministers or are well known in their ministry area, the things they write should carry just about as much weight and value as scripture. Unfortunately, sometimes Christians would be better off had they not purchased the book at all.
The first time your child tells a lie, it is always a shock. How did this innocent little child decide telling you a lie was the best course of action? Are you in danger of raising a pathological liar? Probably not, but if you can avoid some common parenting mistakes, you are more likely to raise a child who is the truthful adult God requires.
So what are these common mistakes? These are the ones I notice parents making over and over.
When you read the letters in the New Testament, it becomes obvious a large part of the work of the early Church was helping those in poverty. The causes of the poverty may have varied, but the message was clear – Christians needed to show God’s love to the poor.
If you live in a city like Atlanta and are middle class, there is a very real chance your child has never really been exposed to poverty in a meaningful way. Even if you occasionally volunteer to help the poor, your child may only have the vaguest idea of what life is like on a daily basis for those living in poverty.
Recently I read a great paper on educating children in poverty. One of the interesting findings was something I have always suspected. Things a middle class parent would consider “common sense” are really not common sense, but are behaviors and attitudes passed on from middle and upper class parents to their children. Children in generational poverty are never taught these “hidden” rules for success. Unless parents in poverty are actively coached on these rules or have stumbled upon them on their own, they are almost certain to pass the poverty lifestyle on to their children.
Christian parenting also has hidden rules. Actually, they are in the Bible, but many parents don’t catch them or don’t think they are important. They parent with the best of intentions, but are raising children who will leave God and the Church or grow to be lukewarm Christians.
Ever watch a bunch of young boys try to “out tough” each other? It’s a wonder any boys make it to adulthood!. These sessions designed to prove one has no weaknesses, have probably resulted in the creation of more than one extreme sport and quite a few body parts in casts.
There is something in all of us, that wants to put on a brave front. Maybe it is because we fear showing our weaknesses will turn us into the laughing stock of our neighborhoods and workplaces. Perhaps there is a little bit of pride and ego in the mix. Maybe we have been taught by society that only the strong survive, and fear exhibiting weakness will place us at the bottom of the pecking order.
Unfortunately, God expects us to show our weaknesses. Whether it is sin in our lives or just fear, we need to be able to share them with God. Our children need to see us admit our sins and ask for forgiveness. Society may mock weakness, but God values our honest appraisal of our need for Him.