Chapter 7: Lies Women Believe About Children
Day 5: Shaping Your Children
Lie #31: “We are not responsible for how our children turn out.”
When is the last time you sat down and thought about what you want your children to be like as adults? Have you identified what character qualities you hope they’ll have? Have you considered what their spiritual walk should look like?
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of intentional, strategic parenting. And here’s why: Did you know that 8 out of 10 young people who grow up in the church leave the church after high school, never to return?
It never ceases to amaze me how many women come to Lifeline who grew up in Christian homes, going to church, some even to Christian schools, who are now far from God, their lives destroyed by drugs, alcohol, and immorality. How does this happen?
It starts with well-meaning, pseudo-religious people who raise their children passively, dealing only with issues that cause them enough pain to deal with, and letting things play out, often saying things like, “what’s the big deal,” or “I’m too tired to deal with this.”
It gets even more complicated when you consider the staggering number of “Christian parents” leading double lives. This never escapes their children’s notice. The double-standard causes the child to become resentful, and rebellion becomes inevitable. Some rebel to an extreme, others just follow in their parents’ footsteps, thinking they can walk with Jesus and the world at the same time. News flash: you can’t.
Ultimately, the result is that many see Christianity as a social activity and equate a relationship with God with church attendance a few times a month, at best.
I began by asking you what you want your children to be as adults. There’s a reason for this. You see, they don’t suddenly or accidentally develop godly character. They need to be trained – and that is precisely your job.
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul writes, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
I’ve heard people talk adamantly about not following the example of any man on earth, warning of the danger of idolatry. However, Paul himself challenged and encouraged the people he led to imitate him because he imitated Christ. This is what made him successful, and it would be what made his followers successful in their relationship with God.
Sometimes we need to see the example right in front of our face, because just being told something doesn’t always connect. This is especially true of children – they are natural imitators. They will copy whoever they are around, for reasons such as earning approval, wanting to be respected like the person they admire, or even just because it’s all they’ve seen modeled. For this reason, Nancy Leigh DeMoss writes, “What parents tolerate in moderation, their children will excuse in excess.”
You are the first and most influential example of a Christian your children will encounter. What they see you do, they’ll do. What they see you skip, they’ll skip. What they hear you say, where they see you go, what they see you watch, your values, your morals, your ethics… they see it all. And if you can do it, why can’t they?
Does this scare you?
I hope it does.
We’re far too quick to dismiss our influence over our children, minimize their capacity to notice our behavior, and think that we can just tell them to do it differently and they’ll do it because “I said so.”
Of course, the natural progression here is that, in addition to letting kids get away with what we ourselves indulge, we tend to let them go even further than us. Sometimes it’s within our power, sometimes not. But our choices in what we allow our children to do, where we allow them to go, who we let them socialize with, even when and who we allow them to date, set them up to either succeed or fail in their relationship with God at their most fragile time of life.
Parents have grown far too lazy and their children are the ones who are suffering for it.
And what about God? How does He fit in? Often, not at all. Many children who are growing up in what would typically be labeled “a Christian home,” are experiencing anything but a Christian home. Christ is not in the home. Prayer is rare, family devotions unheard of. Secular music abounds, the TV is always on something unwholesome, and the personal habits of those in the home are, at best, without thought of God, and at worse, downright wicked.
Christian parents, you have a great opportunity to instill godly character in your children. It’s in everything you say, everything you do, how you dress, how you walk, the way you make decisions.
I’m sure you’ve heard before that “more is caught than taught.” While true, it does not mean that you do not teach! Did you know that scripture says that the generation that came after the battle of Jericho, none of the people of Israel knew what God had done for them at Jericho? Could it be that the parents got comfortable, passive, and perhaps even took a little of the credit themselves? Teach your children what God has done for you. And if you can’t think of anything God has done for you, maybe the first thing you need to do is let him save you from yourself.
Eventually your children will reach the age of accountability, and then they must make their own choice for or against Christ. It’s your job to prepare them to make the right choice; but you can’t do that if you haven’t made that choice yourself.
The lie that we began with is “We are not responsible for how our children turn out.” It’s dangerous because it’s partly true, partly false.
Yes, you are responsible for how your children turn out. God gave your children to you. He gave you the responsibility to raise them to follow Christ. Live up the standard. He will hold you accountable.
No, you are not responsible for how your children turn out. Because regardless of how well you train and teach them, how much you prepare them to choose Christ, they must make that choice for themselves. You cannot make it for them. At a certain point, all you can do is let your children go and trust them to remember what you’ve taught them and to make the right choices for themselves
Let this be a warning, a challenge, and an encouragement to you, regardless of whether you have children, regardless of their ages, regardless of their circumstances. It’s time to take your life seriously, not only for your own benefit, but the benefit of your family, of your friends, and the world around you.
“We cannot plant seeds of half-hearted, undisciplined, worldly lives, and then hope for a ‘crop failure’ in the next generation.” -Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Key Points to Remember:
- “Your walk talks and your talk talks
but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”
- “What parents tolerate in moderation,
their children will excuse in excess.”
-Nancy Leigh DeMoss
- You must be intentional and strategic in your parenting.
- Your job is to train your children to follow Christ.
- If you imitate Christ, you can confidently invite your children to imitate you.
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.