There seems to be no shortage of both prodigals and wayward children these days and it’s freaking parents out.
Having three children of our own, my wife and I care deeply about this issue. As our kids get older the realities of this sinful world become more and more apparent. We already know the world is a scary place but when you see the affects of it becoming a potential stumbling block for your own, it starts to take on a whole new evil. It’s like you can just see the Devil waiting to pounce on the innocent. You just know that he would destroy them just as soon as look at them. He’s been doing this for thousands of years. If he can get our children into his deceptive grasp he will ruin the generations to come. He even goes after the Church kids and the PK’s too.
I think the reason it’s happening so much sooner these days is because many parents are letting it happen. Think of it like this. Surrounding each of your children are hundreds of windows and doors. Some of them are at their level to reach and open as they choose. Some are locked and some are higher up and only accessible by you. Each opening accesses new experience in this world. As soon as the window is open they will taste that new experience and once they do you can never get it back.
The lower more accessible windows are things like their own thoughts and fallen nature; those behaviors that come sort of by trial and error because we are fallen people. You cannot stop little Sally from hitting Sammy because that’s her choice. She seems to already know how to be mean without you having to teach her. Sally will likely enjoy hitting Sammy in some sense because it gives her a sense of control. But if her parents step in and tell her that that behavior is called sin and is displeasing to God who made her, it’s likely she will open that window far less. And when she does, and she will, you will be there to remind and discipline lovingly and accordingly. That’s what parents do, right?
As our kids get older they start opening some of the higher up doors. We can hardly believe it. At first it’s kind of cool that now they can reach their own cups, wash their own apple in the sink and get their own food from the fridge. But then you realize that with this new open door comes new challenges. The next thing you know there are more messes, more accidents and more injuries. Do you stop them from experiencing life? Of course not. You’re still there to teach them and show them how to learn from their mistakes and hurts. You are there to tell them “If you climb on the counter like that you’re going to fall.” Will they listen? Maybe.
Now they are somewhere between 8 and 12 and you cannot believe time has gone so quickly. Some of the joys of this season are that you can now talk and converse with them as young men and women. You are learning their very unique personalities and interests as they come into their own. And because we are a society that reacts hugely to pressure and trends around us, you see your kids looking very similar to the rest of the kids you know and some of it is because you opened the window, not them.
We live in the age of computers, tablets and personal devises. To not own one of these is quite abnormal. Every child older than 2 knows exactly what YouTube, Netflix and the Internet is. Many of even the youngest can access any game and any video, keying in the passwords as if they’ve been doing it for years. Most of us see it as cuteness that our little ones can do so much when most of it didn’t even exist when we were kids (When I was a kid there wasn’t one thing I needed to do that required a password or PIN), but cute is the last thing that will come to mind when you open the the search history on your computer and find, whether by accident or not, that a world of evil has entered your home through a back door called google. Who opened the door? We have not experienced this in our home but we are aware of the danger and will contend earnestly even now.
I say all this to serve as a loving reminder to you parents. Don’t forget the authority that God has placed into your hands to help guard, disciple and grow your children into mature adults. It’s often said that “Children used to respect their parents.” I’m not so sure that’s the whole story. Parents also used to raise their children. We need to be hands on and aware. Vigilance needs to become your new word.
As I said earlier, the Enemy does not care who you or your children are. He will wait for certain doors to open, some that you might open in ignorance, doors that may begin as innocent, but as you walk further in there is vices and snares.
For your young men, teach them early to diligently guard their eyes. It was cute to see them reach the top cabinet and experience a little bit of the grown-up life. But it will not be cute to see them reach the pornographic website and have it seared into their brain for life. And what if you’re not there at the time. What if the shame is so deep that they never tell you what they saw? What if they do not even know that such evil lurks out there? Have you told them? Do they know that you are their greatest asset on this earth, provided by the Lord, for their spiritual growth an maturity?
For your young women, teach them early to value the acceptance of the Lord; that they do not have to work hard for it. Teach them that their beauty and worth comes from Jesus and not from what others say about them. When she finds mom’s make-up bag and messily put on lipstick for the first time you will laugh a little, but it will not be funny when her life becomes an effort to please and satisfy the world with her body just so she can feel a little bit of acceptance.
In all of this your ONLY hope is Jesus. To see your children as Jesus sees them. To teach them with the care and diligence that Jesus teaches you. Many parents will not teach their children about holiness, righteousness and pleasing the Lord simply because they know nothing about it themselves. But you, the born again, Spirit-filled parent, “Train up your children in the way they should go, and in the end, they will not depart from it.” Love them with your words, your actions and your effort to shepherd them with care and protection. Let them see that life is ultimately about the glory of Christ and His Kingdom.