Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Many of the parents in my church growing up I’m sure believed they were doing exactly what this scripture teaches—laying a strong foundation of faith for their children. As I grew up, however, I witnessed many of my peers in church, and myself at times, fall privy to sex, violence, drugs, bad relationships, and all of the other pitfalls common in the world outside of it. Now, as a mother of two, trying to raise my own children “in the way they should go,” I often wonder, why did so many of us stray from that path?
I might need an entire book’s-worth of word space to answer that question in full, but in the effort to give children a Christian upbringing, in four key areas we may be inadvertently leading our children astray:
1. Refusing to understand the world they live in. I’m not suggesting that you spend all afternoon watching the latest Lil Wayne videos, but it would make sense for you to get a little bit of pop culture education every now and then, and not just the information you get every time some teen horror story pops up online. Take a little time to know what “these kids today” are listening to, what they’re watching, and what they’re doing online. Because no matter what you do or don’t allow in your home, you don’t have a lot of control over what they’re up against when they walk out your door. As Christians we like to talk a lot about fighting the enemy. Well, if we don’t know what that enemy looks like, how can we prepare our kids to do battle?
2. Not knowing how to talk to them. Talking is not the equivalent of quoting a scripture, saying “because God said so,” and walking away. Being able to effectively communicate with your children is letting them ask the uncomfortable questions and knowing that sometimes you may not have all the answers. Your kids should feel some level of comfort in being able to talk to you about their thoughts and experiences without fearing constant condemnation. Remember always that talking to your children also includes listening, even to those things that you may not want to hear.
3. Not arming them with practical knowledge. Kids are naturally curious. They want information, and will find it, whether you give it to them or not. I spent 90 percent of my time outside of school growing up in church and consequently, ended up with a wealth of (often erroneous) sexual knowledge, not from classmates, but from other kids at church. Educate is not the same word as condone. But covering our eyes and saying “If I don’t teach my children about it, the threat won’t exist” doesn’t get rid of the danger, it only leaves them ill prepared to handle it.
4. Confusing your walk with theirs. If you are like me, you probably still stumble and fall on a regular basis, and you’ve had a lot more time to strengthen your steps than your children have. You may pray, and read the Bible, instill Christian values in them and take them to church and Sunday school, and all of those things help to get your kids on the right path, but the reality is that each one of your children will have to find and know God for him or herself, in his or her own time. You can’t walk the road for them, but you can learn to find forgiveness when they veer off course and be the arms to help lift them up when they fall along the way.
BMWK — Do you agree with this list? Why do you think children of Christian parents succumb to many of the same problems as children of non-Christian parents?