We live in a world increasingly opposed to the laws of its Creator. Christians are looking more and more ‘peculiar’. We have to teach our children to be very different. But they don’t like to be ‘different’, especially adolescents.
So how can we as parents prepare our children to face this world? To resist peer group pressure? To live morally? To keep believing the Bible when so much of what they are taught contradicts it? We see offspring from other Christian families made shipwreck. How can we do any better? We see those who have ‘made it’! What is their secret? Sound doctrine!
Sound doctrine must be clearly evident in our homes. This sound doctrine turns the hearts of the parents toward the children and the children’s hearts to the parents. (Malachi 4:6)
So how can parents prepare our children to face this world? To resist peer group pressure? To live morally through sound doctrine?
1. Be sympathetic
If children sense that their parents sympathize with them and are interested in their circumstances, they won’t feel alone with their burdens. Without invading their privacy or forcing themselves on them, parents must keep such close contact with their children, that they quickly recognize if something is wrong. Such openness enables the children to talk about what is troubling them. This sort of trust-relationship is extremely valuable.
2. Spend time teaching your children about God from His Word.
Noah would have had very little in the way of written records—at most the information contained in Genesis chapters 1–5. But God did communicate directly with him, regarding His intention to ‘blot out man’ (6:7) and the rest of creation. Noah also received very specific instructions for building the vessel which was to save him, his family, and the animals from the Flood.
No doubt he made his three sons very familiar with this information. They were more than likely familiar with clay tablets on which were inscribed details of creation, the Fall, and God’s dealings with their forebears. (The most likely way this information was preserved for the post-diluvian world.)
We have 66 books filled with God’s revelation to us. We have 24 hours in each day just like Noah. We must set aside time each day to teach our children.
3. Leave work at work
It’s important that by faith you lay aside the stress and burdens of the work place when you come home and participate in household tasks. Give your family your full attention when you are there. If you don’t get victory over anxiety, it can easily create a domino effect that will cause a lot of especially for the children. Maybe you have difficulty enduring in suffering when you are humiliated or when you are in other adverse circumstances. This needs to go into the death of Christ, – “This most often refers not to the physical death Christ died on the cross of Calvary, but to the death of the lust to sin in His human nature, which task He fulfilled while He lived on earth as a human being. (2 Timothy 2:11; 2 Corinthians 4:10; Philippians 3:10; Romans 8:3)” so that when you come home, you come to bless your household.
4. Demonstrate the total trustworthiness of the Creator.
Shem, Ham and Japheth grew up watching their father build an enormous boat to save them from a flood, which God said was going to happen (6:17). Noah based his life totally on God’s instructions—contrary though they appeared to all those around him. He showed his children by his actions how much he trusted his Creator (Hebrews 11:7).
How much trust do we actually demonstrate to our children? Do we grumble and complain about the economic recession, panic about the possibility of retrenchment, or fret about the moral decline as though these things are beyond the control of our Creator? Our attitudes and actions must match what we teach our children.
5. Know your sheep
Young people must be watched over in a good way so they don’t end up in situations that will damage them for life. We must stay ahead of the devil and know our sheep well. “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds.” Proverbs 27:23. It is good for children to have boundaries. If these boundaries are spacious enough to allow them a sound development, the children will recognize that boundaries are an expression of love and care.
The boundaries should be as wide as possible, but once they do exist, transgressions must be dealt with. A good, blessed atmosphere must exist within the boundaries. Mother and father must be watchful here. Some children need more limitations than others, even within the same family. The driving force behind everything must be love for the child, and not the ambition of the parents.
6. Have a genuine relationship with God
God has equipped us with various talents and gifts. No one is worth more than another in His eyes. Within the scope of our personal abilities, we have the opportunity to attain to all the fullness of God. Striving to compete with others is stupid and vain. True happiness is found in the genuine relationship we have with God. Through that relationship, we will be able to give our children something from heaven. Whether you live in a big house or a small house means nothing. But for parents to have a good relationship in which their children sense security, care and unconditional love means very much.
7. Practice what you preach.
Parents love to talk about what is right and wrong and can be quick to judge their kid’s actions, but many times they don’t look at themselves to see if they are even modeling what they are teaching. The simple lessons that we teach them about forgiveness, kindness and how to react when they are angry or hurt, tend to be the lessons we struggle with the most.
Our kids are constantly watching us, to see how we react in challenging situations, how we speak with our mouths and how we treat others. We have to focus on practicing what we preach so that we are being a “light” to our children as we train them to be a “light” in this world.
8. Be flexible in your relationship with them
When children become teenagers, it is important for parents to step back a little from being their educators and rather be guides and good conversation partners for them. The children need to become more independent in a natural way. It is also a good idea to celebrate special events in their lives or any victories they might have, and to support them in their defeats, without meddling. If you follow along closely, you can step in at the right time, just like the eagle that pushes her young out of the nest, but is ready to catch them if they should falter.
9. We must prepare them to take ridicule or persecution.
For the first 100 years or so of his children’s lives, Noah was building an Ark in a world that had never seen such a flood. This must have brought a lot of ridicule to him and his family. There was no way he could protect them from this without abandoning his project. You can’t hide such a huge vessel under a bushel.
We must encourage our children to take ridicule from their friends. Their Creator can strengthen them to do so, otherwise they will be driven to compromise to avoid it. We must emphasize that ‘those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness’ will be ‘blessed’ because ‘theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:10).
10. Be thankful for them as individuals
Some children are very open and spontaneous and are good at communicating. Others are more self-conscious and withdrawn. Some are easy to be with; others are difficult and stubborn. Sickness and other disorders can also be a factor. All children should feel that their mother and father watch over them and are thankful for them just as they are – without feeling like their parents are seeking honor or are embarrassed by them.
Parents must show goodness to each one of their children, and they should pray for them and be patient during periods when they may be a little distant. Parents need to strive to keep a good relationship with all their children, regardless of their personal choices. You must also show care and support to those who choose a different course in life. “To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” Job 6:14.
Be rich in love
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.” Philippians 1:9-10. Knowledge often abounds, but perhaps we need to pray more for this knowledge to be far richer in love!
Always reinforce that our greatest life goal is to glorify God in all we do. When it’s all said and done, this is the essence of life—to glorify God with our lives. So what does “success” mean to the Christian parent? For me, it’s to raise my kids in a manner that cultivates their hearts for God.
Finally, teach your children to show compassion and kindness. Train them to speak the truth in love and lead them to Jesus, who is the only one who can keep them from falling.
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