My little boys and I were cracking up at a vintage episode of The Cosby show. Before I could get to the remote to fast forward, a commercial break, complete with a woman pulling off her clothes, filled the screen.
My boys and I were out on errands and heard a song with a great beat in the store. Next thing I know, the boys are asking me the meaning of words they have no business hearing.
We’ve taught our boys that there are certain words they do not say (the closest a kid can come to swearing without saying the actual word.) So imagine my surprise when my 8-year-old son showed me the words in one of his favorite kids’ books.
Parents, we’ve got our work cut out for us. And my examples may seem mild in light of what some parents face. Try explaining an event like the Newtown School Shooting, or explaining crime, or even explaining two men getting married to your young, impressionable child. Now try doing it in a way that courageously exemplifies your faith and conviction, without filling them with fear, dread, or hate. Or try limiting your child’s exposure to concepts they are not ready to face, while they are receiving the Godly inputs that line up with your beliefs. Indeed, we have a formidable task as parents. It can seem overwhelming. We’re inundated with information, much of it with no foundation in the Word of God, and are supposed to filter it and help our children process it.
And all of this doesn’t even include our busy, hectic, fast-paced, pressure-filled lifestyles.
Two words for you: BUT GOD. While I’m not painting a blanket cure-all, I am saying that the Word of God has the answers we need. The Word may not speak specifically to every situation; however, there are profound nuggets to help us raise Godly children in a world that is deceived into thinking it needs less and less of His presence. You must be intentional; it does not happen by accident.
1) It’s critical that we as parents are aware of what goes into our children. Yes, natural inputs are important – less sweets and more fruits and vegetables. But it is our job to protect our children and guard what they see and hear. Matthew 12:34 says, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” What are you allowing on deposit in the hearts of your little ones? As parents, our goal can’t be to completely isolate them from life. We are to insulate them, build a firm foundation on the Word of God, then help them understand how to navigate the world around them.
2) While limiting what goes into your children, you still have to provide them with a lot of exposure. Sound contradictory? Let me explain. Expose your children to positive opportunities for growth and development – science fairs, museums, symphonies, and historical events. Help them understand the beauty and the joy present in this world that God created, and allow these opportunities to broaden their horizons. Wisdom can come from learning about the world around you. “Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Also consider their exposure to other children with similar beliefs, who can provide positive peer influence.
3) Inspire, encourage and motivate your kids. Iron sharpens iron. You be that iron. Don’t push them. Gently guide them. When I learn that one of my children has an interest in a particular area, you better believe I am doing all I can to give them opportunities to learn about it. As you invest time in your children to learn what they like to do and navigate it in a positive way, you’ll see them blossom. And excel. And isn’t that what we want as parents?
It doesn’t “just happen.” Make it happen. It’s no accident.