Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
4. You decide their influences: you cannot do this when they move out, but you can do this as long as they live under your roof. Be your child’s greatest influence. Joshua, the great man of God said, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. -Josh.24:15” Joshua drew a clear line in the sand for his home that day when he said “as for me and my house we will serve the LORD.” He said you people of Israel can run your homes as you wish and you can worship whatever god you choose, but my house is going to serve the true God of heaven.
Notice that Joshua did not ask Mrs. Joshua if he could set the spiritual tone for his home, notice that he did not have a family meeting and ask the children what they thought was cool or popular with them. He did not search the internet for the latest trends and fashions or for the popular, politically correct vote….he stood up and said this is how God wants it and this is how it will be; WE WILL SERVE THE LORD! Please do not misinterpret my thought; the man of the house is not to be a cruel dictator, but a loving, Christ-like leader. He and his wife have the responsibility of leading the home together.
Although man and woman are created equal, God did create them with different roles and responsibilities. The spiritual man sets the direction of the home, given to him by Gods word and then he and mother raise the children in this way that pleases God. Dad and mom, you decide what and who will influence you children. You should carefully and personally pre-view any music, movie or show your children watch and listen to. You should randomly and regularly check their computer, text messages, and social network sites as well as personally meet their friends. This sounds extreme but your children are a gift from God, and you are responsible for what influences them.
We set this same pre-view standard in our home. Some time ago, a dearly beloved pastor to me, gave my children a movie that he said was good and that they would enjoy. Now I love and trust this brother dearly but I still watched the movie before I gave it to my children. I would be held responsible by God for giving it to them, not him. I am not saying lock your children in a box until they are 18 then let them out in the world…if you do that, you will harm them even more, but I am saying closely monitor and select for them those things that God’s word would deem safe. Set certain standards for this selection process; i.e. If anything does not line up with God’s word, keep them from it; if it opposes Gods word keep them from it; if it has the potential to draw them away from God, keep them from it; if it is popular and widely accepted by the world and entertainment industry, you should probably keep them from it. You are responsible for the influences of your children.
Keep yourself in the word of God and be sensitive to the Spirit of God when he speaks to your heart, He will always lead in the right way. Now in taking this stand with your children, take it the right way. Explain things to them, teach them why Gods word says what it does; don’t just say “Do what I say” Teach them the process for making good decisions so they can continue making godly decisions long after they are out of your care. Children that are forced to obey with no explanation or reasoning will often rebel when they are older and have more liberty. Set the tone and set it right the first time.
5. Young people need consistency: this world is constantly changing. You never know what is up or down sometimes. One day eggs are not healthy for you, the next, they are the “incredible edible egg!” God said “I change not” and as a Christian this is reassuring news. I know that the same powerful God that formed the heavens and parted the Red Sea is the same God that I call on in times of trouble. If God never changes, then neither does his word or promises.
Children need to know that home will always be there and that mom and dad will be married forever. They need to be reassured on a daily basis that you love them. They need to see you reading your Bible daily and leading them to church every week. They need to know that Sunday’s are for God and the other six days are for Christian service and vocational work. Proverbs 29:15 says “…a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” Children need consistent structure.
When children have a consistent environment, they develop more stable emotions and a productive thought process. It is easier for them to concentrate on learning their environment and developing motor and social skills instead of worrying about developing “survival skills.” I have seen young children in unstable homes be very socially withdrawn but on the other hand they were good at fending for themselves. Young children shouldn’t be left to walk themselves to school, find their own meals and structure their own environment. We shouldn’t just drop them off and pick them up and expect them not to be negatively influenced by the world’s crowd. Too much freedom and choice can be a negative thing.
As parent, God commands us to set the stage, lay it all out for them to follow. Give your child consistency in Biblical training, emotional support and good role models and you will see them develop into fine adults.
6. Love your children unconditionally: As any parent will soon find out, your children will fail and let you down. They will also go through a time of “change & adjustment” as they come into their pre-teen and teen years; these times will be difficult. I would like to address these two difficult times:
First, the failure. We all make mistakes and outright sins, but we have a promise from our heavenly father that his love is an “Everlasting Love” and that he will never leave us nor forsake us. As a Christian it is this eternal love & security that reassures me in times of my failure that I am safe and will never be deserted by my father in heaven. I know that my sins bring punishments and consequences, but I also know for certain that as a child of God, and that I will forever be his child. This unconditional love brings about many feelings; one of which is an overwhelming love for him who is so loving to me. How could you not be faithful to such a faithful God?
Another is confidence that when I fail, I know I will be punished but never forsaken. Children need this kind of love and security. They go to school and hear friends talk about their parents’ divorce and see things on the news about parents deserting their children and spouse. They need to know you love them and will be faithful to them.
Second, you need to love your child through their times of change. This is different than times of failure. This is times when you may become frustrated with corky or weird habits they form. All parents know that children go through phases where everything is overly funny to them, or they act out for attention, or even say “off the wall” remarks that make no sense. Children have their own personality, but I have found that personality, like other qualities, must be developed. In a sense they are finding their comfort place. It is important in these times to give your child some space. I am not saying neglect structure and punishment, but rather help them understand what is acceptable and what isn’t.
Often times this is a time when parents get frustrated and disconnect with their children; sometimes pushing them off or calling them goofy before they send them to bed out of frustration. Listen carefully, this is a monumental time. This is right before the teen years which will bring with them their own challenges. This is not the time to disconnect but connect. Love them patiently through this time and you will have a stronger relationship through those difficult teen years. I have seen many parents lose touch with their child in this strange pre-teen time and lose their teens to the world later as a result. Love your child to maturity.