Standing outside the school waiting to pick up my son I hear lots of conversations on any given afternoon, but this particular one caught me as a mom described her teenage daughter and her acts and words of rebellion. She quoted the awful things her daughter had said to her that very morning. I personally was mortified. I would never ever allow my children to use such an attitude of disrespect in our home. Sure, our kids have their moments where they would rather not do the chore asked or participate in the family in some way or even speak words they soon regret. It is a natural part of growing up to test boundaries, however, in those tests of boundaries, there is still a respect of authority my children are quite aware of “the line” that exists in our home. Certainly they do not have to agree with the rules set forth by the parents, but they will obey them because they understand mom and dad are in authority over them. As the two moms continued the conversation and I was deeply saddened by the other moms response saying it was all normal and that is how it is suppose to be with teenagers and someday they will figure it out.
Someday they will figure it out
That last line stayed with me “someday they will figure it out” What exactly will they figure out? Will they come to learn that if they are nasty and hateful they will eventually get their way? Will they figure out that their parents offer no consequences to their words or behavior no matter how wrong or disrespectful it might be. How exactly does a teenager on their own “figure it out?”
Certainly a child or teen left on his own can figure out Jesus, but it sure is a lot harder and the likelihood they find faith is far slimmer. Wouldn’t it be easier to hear about faith from the most influential person in their life, their parents? It is a common reaction to want to prevent heartache and pain for our children yet many parents leave their children at the mercy of the culture and community and let them wade through it all to hopefully come to a belief in God. Just as we teach our children to look both ways before crossing a street and not to touch a hot stove we should be teaching them the value of a life of faith and actively demonstrating it to them.
Parents are the spiritual authority over their children
Most everyone will agree parenting is not an easy task. I’m about to tell you it’s a whole lot harder. We are not just to teach our children please and thank you and how to eat broccoli and not pick your nose and how to tie your shoes. We as Christian parents have a much deeper responsibility to our children. We are commanded to teach them the way of Jesus. We are given authority over our children to raise them up to know God and live their lives in a daily way that honors Him. It is our job to show and teach this to our children.
It is deeply saddening to see the number of parents that leave this authority they have been given and commanded to do as Christian parents on the table! We are told in Deuteronomy 6 to establish a daily life of living that includes Jesus by constantly incorporating Jesus into the daily patterns of life. In Psalms 78:5 we are commanded to teach our children. It is not a suggestion or if it fits into our parenting plan. It is not the role of a Sunday School teacher or youth director. We, the parents, are commanded to teach our children the ways of Jesus.
Why are we so hesitant to teach the truth of Jesus to our children? If we truly believe in the urgency of the message and the life changing power it offers and the eternal life it gives, why are we not telling our children daily about this amazing grace?
Begin teaching today
Today I urge you to become a family planting seeds of faith in your children. The key word here is seeds! You don’t build a bridge in a day or grow a mighty tree. It is a process that requires an “all in” approach from you, the parent. Depending what you have already established is your starting place to continue to grow faith in your home. The more faith filled the home the easier this will be and less awkward. Please do not let some momentary awkwardness stop you from offering a lifesaving faith to your children.
The No Faith Family
If you have no faith background and have never talked about such things it should be a slow start, but it should start. It may be forced at first and actually receive negative feedback from the family members but stay the course and keep pursuing it. I am a firm believer in being practical, open and honest with my family. Lay it out to your people and say I think we need to look into God. Use it as a time to open a conversation on initial thoughts about who God is and what God wants from us. Decide as a family to visit a church, buy a bible or a devotional. Search out a family that has faith and ask them to help you in this endeavor. Adults this is no time to to feel embarrassed and awkward in front of your children and use that as an excuse to not pursue faith. We are talking about eternity here! I guarantee questions will come up you don’t know how to answer and maybe don’t want to know the answers. Learn together and don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” to your children.
We go to Church Family
Another common family is the one that goes to church regularly. Regularly might mean different things to different families but for my purposes I would say at least 2-3 times a month. This family acknowledges God as Lord and believe God wants you to live a certain way. The disconnect with this family is their faith is mainly reserved for Sunday mornings. They have not translated it into an everyday living type of experience. I would encourage this family to open the Bible as a family and read and talk and ask questions and ultimately learn together in their faith. A great place to start is the dinner table by asking “God questions.”
Wherever your family might be on their faith journey it is imperative that you don’t leave children to figure it out on their own. Children need guidance and instruction in all aspects of life including their spiritual life!
Get Over It Parents
Many times I put my own self in a vulnerable position and might look silly in an effort to find out about my children’s hearts. I’m willing to look foolish in front of my children for that purpose. I want so much for my children to know God and feel free to ask the questions of faith on their heart that sometimes it means me as a parent looking silly, unknowledgeable or foolish. I’m okay with that because my children’s eternity is worth far more than me feeling momentarily embarrassed in front of my children.
So whether you are a new family to faith or one that is already walking down the faith road take time to talk with your children and establish an environment where all questions are welcome and together you will discuss them and come to answers together as a family.
Treating your children with respect but at the same time letting them know that you are the authority in the household is a very fine line that must be continually taught.