My wife and I meet once a week with a close group of friends. Our goal is to simply be present in each other’s lives. Sometimes that is demonstrated through encouragement, and sometimes it is demonstrated through biblical correction. Regardless of what comes from our time together, it always proves to be fruitful…..we started as a community group, and we have become a family. This past week we were discussing the old adage “if it feels right it can’t be wrong.” We discussed how creatively the enemy uses this lie to move us into disobedience. Nearing the end of our discussion I asked “how should we respond to our children when they are ‘following their hearts’ and we remember the scripture teaches that the heart is above all things deceptive?” The discussion was powerful and enlightening. Through the course of our conversation I was reminded of a couple of things I hope you will find beneficial and, when applied, will help you cross the finish line of your life with no regrets.
Here are 3 things to remember when you are talking to/instructing your children (regardless of how old they are at the time)
1. You can talk too much and listen too little. I have a tendency to talk over people. It is not a very gracious habit and I have worked to become a better listener. Unfortunately there are many instances where I am not talking only to find I am not listening but rather thinking through what I am about to say. Over the past few months I have noticed a trend especially when it comes to my 12 and 8 year old children. They have often said “daddy, can I please just finish what I am trying to say?” Wow…..I need to stop talking and start listening. Would your children say you listen to them completely before issuing them an offering of your supreme brilliance?
2. The cat is out of the bag in regards to your personal perfection. We, as parents, can stop acting like we have never “followed our hearts” and reaped the consequences of doing so. Even if they do not know the specifics of your sinful decisions, they know you aren’t perfect – primarily because they live with you and have seen you in your humanity. Now, the typical pushback at this point is “I know I’m not perfect and I know my kids don’t think I am perfect.” My question is simply this: Have your kids ever heard you utter the words “I understand where you are coming from because when I was about your age I…..” or “I know this feels like the right decision, but when I was younger I went down this path and the result was ……” I am afraid too many kids are being raised in environments where no one is willing to admit they understand where that child is in the present…..emotionally, physically, hormonally, spiritually and etc. Have your children ever heard you admit that you know what it is like to be scared, confused, angry, tempted and etc? I want to make sure I state the following: you have to use discernment in what you share and at what stage of life. Your 6 year old doesn’t need to know about your sexual promiscuity….but your 16 year old might. I don’t know your kids and I don’t know you so I can’t make that call for you. What I can say is how grateful I am for parents that didn’t try to hide their pasts but leveraged them to help pave the way for me to have a healthier future.
3. You have access to absolute truth in the scripture. If you are a redeemed follower of Jesus, it is important to remember that your kids need to be consistently pointed to the truth of God’s Word. I am certain there are times in all of our lives when we haven’t be willing to receive biblical correction/direction graciously. I am also certain there are times when our children will not want to or be willing to receive biblical correction/direction graciously…..but we still have a responsibility to make sure we are directing them and counseling them from the truth of scripture. As parents I believe it is ok to say, “You may not want to hear what the Bible teaches, but it is the only place I know to go for wisdom and direction and because I love you I will counsel you from the text.” We should never be apologetic when it comes to covering our children’s hearts and minds with God’s truth. Keep in mind there is a gracious way to instruct from the Word and an ungracious way. I am not encouraging anyone to become an annoying, “beat you over the head with the Bible” kind of parent. There is no place for that…..but there is plenty of room for more parents that refuse to shy away from building on the foundation of God’s Word.
There are obviously a number of other tips like control your tongue, stay calm, never yell, and etc…..but hopefully this is enough to get us all thinking about our parenting and spiritual leadership in the home.