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.