I often find myself wondering if moms and dads know that they will one day stand before God and give an account of how they bring up their children. How would we bring them up if that truth stayed at the forefront of our minds? What would be priority number one in your life, in your family, and in your day-to-day planning if you really let that fact sink deep into your heart?
I’m amazed at the goals we have for our children. Some would never express it this way, but they seem to live as if their only goal is to get their child out of high school without getting pregnant, without getting someone pregnant, and without going to jail. Then it is off to college where they can sow their wild oats, get a good job, and live the American Dream! Is that really what we want for our children?
I have sought three things for my girls since I knew Kim was expecting—I wanted them to be healthy, I wanted them to be happy, but most of all I wanted them to be holy. My desire for them to holy has dictated my decisions in rearing them. I lived a very worldly life in High School, but I was lost. I do not expect saved people to sow wild oats—I expect saved people to grow in holiness.
In our life, for example, church is a priority. I know there are those who say—well, you are a preacher, but my being a preacher has nothing to do with that. I want them in church because I know it is God’s will for them to be in church. I’ve watched moms and dads let dance, baseball, music, or running lead them right out of church and for the most part their entire family goes with them.
Church is a priority in our schedule. My girls have always been active, but we will not allow someone else’s schedule to dictate ours. In other words—if I’m the parent and if church is a priority I will make sure it is a priority for them. I try to make sure they are home early enough on Saturday night so that they can get the full benefit of their time of worship. I know that our church isn’t perfect, but I also know that they have a much better chance of being around people who share biblical values here than outside of the church. It is amazing to me to see the number of children who drop out of church when they get to High School—moms and dads need to know that they will give an account for that one day.
Friends are a priority. Next to their decision to follow Christ there is no more important decision for High School students. I’m all about evangelism, but I’m not sending my girls out with a bunch of people who don’t love Jesus for the night. I encourage them to develop relationships at school, to be kind and compassionate to everyone, but at the same time I am not crazy. If your child hangs out with people who sleep around, drink, do drugs, etc.…don’t be so naïve as to think your child is the only one not doing those things. Soon or later they will be right in the middle of it all.
That’s not a slam on your child—that is just a true statement. Peer pressure is hard at any age, but when you allow your sons or daughters to be surrounded by people who do not love Jesus you are going to find them being pulled away. That’s true of friendship and that is true of dating relationships. Boys who want to date my daughters have to come talk with me. They have to love Jesus and they have to be able to talk to me about their spiritual walk. I want to see peer pressure work the right way—I want to see our Christian students surrounding those who are not saved and to have a positive influence.
I could go on and on, but I just don’t understand how our society has lost the perspective of the parent/child relationship. Someone has to be the parent and someone has to be the child. I want my children to love me and like me and want to be with me, but ultimately I’m going to base my decisions on my 48 years of life experiences instead of their 10-18 years of life experience.
As a parent of a soon to be college student, I would add one final thing. Recently I heard about a mom celebrating on Facebook that her child had turned 21 and was heading out to the bars for the first time. Scores of adults hit the like button and others were commenting that they wished they could be there. I don’t know the mom or the child, but really?! My daughter is entering college this fall and that education is a privilege and not a right. I am not going to throw out 18 years of expectations because she is now in college.
I will allow her to make choices, I will have to let her grow up, and I will have to let go of some of the reigns, but not all of the reigns. I can tell you this—if any of my girls become another statistic or a “Girl Gone Wild” in college I will not pay for that lifestyle. It is simple—they are in college because I am paying for it. Why would I pay for them to live a life that goes against everything I believe? In other words—they are not autonomous adults until they are self-supporting autonomous adults and even then I will continue to do all that I can to remind them of their call in Christ.
Moms and dads…what are your expectations? What are your priorities? What are you doing to show those two things? You and I will stand before God—dad, you are called by God to be the spiritual leader in the home. Are you leading or are you the king of referral?