It is no big surprise to the Christian parent today that raising your child to practice what they believe is getting more difficult. Simply turn on the morning news or flip through a magazine at the store and you will find a variety of topics you never wanted to discuss with your children while they are below 18, or possibly ever.
I became a parent several years ago. My desire to raise a child in our faith and heritage was present even before I lost my first daughter and had my second. Practical application and desire are two different things, as most parents will tell you. So, the question becomes, how to we compete. The media available to children is bright, attractive, and easy access. The vocabulary is filled with convincing, if faulty, rhetoric. It’s hard to tell your child you think something is wrong when the world is asking, “I thought you believed in love?”
The first thing I will suggest is go to the source. God knew all the current trending topics before the term trending existed. Psalms 147:5 says “Great is our Lord, and of great power. His understanding is infinite.” You can’t come at God with information that will surprise Him. There are many practical application studies available directed at youth and Biblical family growth. Send your family into the world with knowledge by studying together. This will help your children feel secure in their own faith as well as demonstrate a lifelong behavior.
The other thing to express to your children is the idea that you can love someone without agreeing with them. It is not unusual to find amongst a family, or even a group of friends, differing opinions. This can even be a healthy thing. We learn more about the world by having a diverse group of friends. No one demonstrated this better than Christ who befriended tax collectors, women from different social groups, and even a centurion. For some reason our current climate as a country is acceptance means agreement. If someone steals my purse I don’t have to agree with what they’ve done, but I do need to accept it happened and cancel my credit cards. This is perhaps an extreme example, but the point is, you can accept someone has a different opinion and not agree with them.
It is important to prepare your children for the idea their faith may lose them friends. This is a harsh reality and one we hope as parents will never happen. Children will look for reasons to criticize. Everyone can name a time when someone made fun of them as a child or judged them unfairly. It will happen to our children. Speak with them ahead of time and share your own personal stories where standing with you faith may have been hard, but was ultimately beneficial. After all, they will never know a deeper love than the one God gives.
We can’t fix everything. Obviously this is only a brief touch on the very complicated topics before us as parents. It is important to express in love and make sure what you say is backed by the Word of God. Make sure to remind your children that everyone was created by God. This means that God loves them. It doesn’t necessarily mean He agrees with the choices they make in their life, but they are His. Let us be found to represent Christ in our family by loving our children enough to tackle the tough topics to help them prepare for what may lie ahead.