I had an interesting conversation with some friends a few nights ago. The statement was made, “You never really know your children.” At one time, I would have argued that this wasn’t true.
“I know my children and they would never_________.“ (fill in the blank with whatever anti-godly “pleasure” teens struggle with).
However, over the course of the year, I’ve had several parents shock me with the stories of their good natured, godly children. Children who compare in demeanor and faith to my own. Children who grew up in church and accepted Jesus as their Savior at a young age. Children who have a good support system at home. Children who knew better, yet still gave in to temptation.
These stable, well-grounded children are trying drugs, engaging in inappropriate activities, stealing, and getting drunk. Things they have been taught proper respect for, know are illegal and simply not permissible from a spiritual standpoint. But it’s happening.
I don’t like this topic. I don’t like the thought that this could be my child. That satan could deceive him or worse yet, that these could be the true desires of his heart which have led him away.
I would love to offer some revolutionary “do this and your children will never go astray” list but there isn’t one. We can do all the “right” things and offer every opportunity for them to know Christ personally; but, it’s still their choice to accept Him and make Him their Lord and Savior. They have to want it for themselves.
So what do we do? What can we do?
We just have to keep doing what we know to do:
- Pray for them, with them, and over them. Entrust them to the only One who really knows them and sees their heart. Ask God to help you know when you need to step in and when you need to back off. If He’s giving you the gift of peace then proceed with that peace in what your child is doing. If He is prompting you to take action, then by all means, do so. You may not always be able to trust what the surface relationship with your child is indicating but you can trust God’s prompting.
- Talk to them. Keep the lines of communication open. Make sure they know you are still interested in their lives and watch for changes in behavior. As teens grow and develop and start changing; they can be difficult to talk to. So, often, we have the tendency to back off and disengage, waiting for them to come to us. Don’t do that. Stay involved. Be connected. Ask questions and more importantly, make sure they know you still care about what is happening in their life. Continue to nurture them through this time but recognize that they are in a new stage in life. Don’t just tell them what to do, help them come to the right conclusion and learn to make the right choices.
- Complement them. It may sound silly and I know this gets harder to do as they get older. Not because they do less noteworthy stuff but they have a tendency to roll their eyes or get embarrassed when you point out their great qualities and achievements. Don’t let that stop you. Let them know they are valued!
- Point to the Word!! Keep pointing your child to the never changing Word of God. When they need advice, back up your response with scripture. Part of our role as Christian parents is to help our children develop a life-long relationship with Jesus Christ. It is vital that they know the answer can always be found in Scripture.
Don’t lose heart. Stand firm. Boldly, consistently and lovingly present Truth. Pray God’s light shines brighter than the counterfeits of the world.
Galatians 6:9 (NIV)
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Praise God for His faithfulness!
Susan Greenwood is a blogger, speaker, curriculum writer, Bible study leader and skit writer (skitguys.com). Her passion is to help families become rooted and grounded in the Word of God, so, they can live through unwavering faith and find true joy through Jesus Christ. Susan blogs for bible.org, CmConnect.org and her own site susangreenwood.net. When she is not writing, Susan enjoys life on the farm (although they do not farm) with her husband, Chris, and their three teenaged sons, Austin, Donevan and Kyle. Her all time favorite thing to do with her family is watch a movie under the stars while roasting marshmallows, eating s’mores and sipping a big hot mug of coffee.