From time to time, I get inquiries and questions from parents. Not the average day in and day out things, I am referring to deeper, more introspective, faith-centered questions. This past week during a phone conversation, for example, I was asked: “I don’t know what’s going on with ________ (their child).” They went on, “I’ve done everything I know to do and things are not improving.”
So let’s start with these two things right off the bat: (1) Yes, I did ask for permission (names redacted) to share this; and (2) It is a question that is much more frequent than I can possibly communicate here. In fact, it comes in all the time in different ways. Some are more subtle than others, some are in chats and talks, but most noticeably – it is in face to face conversations. Lastly here, it comes from parents of who’s children are from 5 or 6 years old all the way up to 20 somethings.
In being a parent and raising a few myself, I can relate to the “seasonal” challenges that we all face. Children grow. They experience life. They deal with peer pressure. Their bodies and minds expand and change. They are developing personalities. This is all part of the God-ordered cycle of living. For any parent (no matter who it is) to say, “I’ve had no issues.” “There are no challenges.” “They’ve been absolutely perfect” – is all a facade and I would submit, a cover-up. Sure, there are some who just present limited challenges and follow instructions better, but in time, a season will come.
But for here, let’s just go on the premise that you or someone you know is having more consistent dire situations arising. Your child is rebelling. They are getting into trouble at school, at home, and maybe in social situations. They don’t listen. They act out. They are stealing and lying. And it is elevating the thermostat in the home.
Here is what I typically ask on the very front-end, to the parents:
- Are you praying about this regularly, every day, both in your own devotional time and with your family? Quite plainly: Are you taking this to God first and seeking His will and wisdom?
- Next level: Are you surrounding yourself with people, in the church, who can be an encouraging, positive, Christlike influence on you and your family? Meaning: Are you making a solid effort to honor God’s desire that you are a part of a community who can love and support you (the church)? It’s more than showing up when its convenient or fits your schedule. It’s actually giving priority to being a part of something bigger than yourself.
- And lastly: How are things in the home affecting this whole situation? Is there a lot of fighting, arguing, name calling, and disrespectful behaviors happening? You must know that in so much of life, a child will reflect the atmosphere they are exposed to: for good or for bad. What can be done, now…today, to change that atmosphere for the better?
You see, to talk about our children – we must first examine ourselves. We can’t dishonor and ignore God and then expect Him to be an active, welcoming part in forming and fashioning our children. He wants access. He desires our seeking. He so longs to be an active part in each of HIS children’s lives. And ultimately, we are all His children first.
I am hoping this helps you. It has helped me. The old saying: “It takes a village to raise a child” actually holds a lot of merit in my view. There is much truth in it. Allow the church, the family of faith, be a support beacon for you and your family. Bring your children to church and communicate that it’s a priority for you and your family. Trust God and pray frequently for your kids – as much as humanly possible. I assure you, if you stay the course, you will see incredible results. It’s just Who our God is!
Be a vehicle through which, “future generations are told about the Lord.”
In prayer and with great hope, for all of us parents!