Can you raise godly kids in this generation? The answer is yes and no. Yes, we can influence our kids towards godliness, but only the Holy Spirit in a child’s life can move them towards godliness. I know that I am helpless to “change” any of my five children, or myself for that matter, without God’s intervening grace.
Hopie and I are reading aloud the story of Adoniram Judson. During his college years, he renounced his belief in God, befriended an athiest and lived like the world. After graduation, he returned home to break the news to his parents. My heart sunk for his mom who had taught him to read at age three from his father’s bible. She had done her job, and she must have been heartbroken. We all know that Adoniram Judson did turn to Christ and did great things for God. Imagine, though, if his mom had neglected to teach him at such a young age about his loving Creator and his obligation as a created being? I’m sure her mom-heart would have been riddled with guilt during his wayward years. And I’m sure that God used the influence of godly parents to impact him. As parents, our top priority must be to to disciple that little one in the ways of their Creator. These are His kids and they’re on temporarily loan to us.
When they are young, you should simply talk about God. In our home, whatever I learned in my devotions that morning was what we talked about. I also kept it simple, short and conversational.
Talking about what I was learning helped me to properly represent God to my children. (as much as I knew how.) Statements like, “If you do that, God’s gonna get you!” or “You probably had a bad day because you missed your devotions this morning!” misrepresent God’s mercy and heart, and can do damage to the child’s perception of God.
Simple statements that show God is here and cares for our lives were common, like “Oh, isn’t God good to provide _________?”, “Are you scared? Let’s ask God to help us.”, “Would God be pleased with biting your sister? No, He is kind and wants us to be kind like Him.”
2. Don’t make parenting about you. Make it about God. You’ll drive your kids away faster than ants off a burning log if they sense they are on display like trophies, trotted out every once in a while to show your excellent parenting skills. (Imagine how that would feel if your husband treated you that way, showing you off to friends, only to show disappointment when you didn’t meet his expectations. sigh) Obedient children for God’s glory is a good thing. Obedient children for the sake of looking like a conscientious mom is a bad thing. Motive makes the difference. Parenting is about God’s glory and behavior modification in anyone is because we want to be like Jesus, and we want to obey God’s word, not because we need to have the approval of others as “good parents.”
3. Choose your child’s friends. Be aware of what’s influencing your children. Yes, I did just say that you should choose your child’s friends. That’s my job. Why? Because they’ll become just like the people they hang around, plain and simple. Teach them to walk with the wise. Surround them with good examples, whether they are their age or not.
4. Remove distractions. Constant electronic input isn’t a good thing. We all need time to process and be alone with our thoughts. Electronics and entertainment can be a dulling agent on their souls. Limit their time with electronics. And guard their hearts when it comes to electronic influences. If it doesn’t have a world view that would make God “smile” then get rid of it. You don’t need it. It’s not best for your family.
5. Help them in their Christian walk. When they are teens, do a book study with them. Pray about things together. Talk with them everyday about “Our God.” Live life in front of them that is authentic. When you fail and they know it, admit it and confess it to them. When you fail again, ask forgiveness again.
6. Have so much fun in your house that there’s no place they’d rather be.
We’ve been in youth ministry for about 18 years, and two comments break my heart: When I hear a mom bemoaning the fact that her kids are such a burden and she speaks of them as though she can’t wait until they are out of her hair. The kids know and feel that!
It also breaks my heart when a young girl tells me “I hope I am NEVER like my mom!”
Moms, our kids know whether we like them or not. They can tell by our attitudes and priorities. We should be the most sympathetic, encouraging, fun person to be around. I mean, think of it from the perspective of the child. If your mother can’t stand to be around you what message does that send to a child about their self-worth?
Make your home fun. Have family pizza night, movie night, plan special events and day trips, joke, laugh, go shopping with your teenage daughters, stay up late and watch movies with them, tease your sons, talk to them, ask them about their lives, be kind to their friends, make special foods for them when they come over to hang out.
7. Just say “No.” Sometimes we think that in order to be fun, we’ve got to say yes. We don’t like to be told no and we hate telling our kids no. But there is no fun outside of God’s law…not permanent fun.
Anything that would dishonor God will bring out kids heartache in the end. So, saying NO is simply a boundary of protection and self control that is for our good and growth. I will set no wicked thing before my eyes. I will let no corrupt communication proceed out of my mouth. I will have NO other gods before God.
Keep on keeping on, Christian mom. Your job is not easy, I know, but your job will impact generations!