As parents, we are charged with raising our children to be strong, healthy and ready for the world. We teach them all we can before they leave the nest. Our teaching license will not expire until death but our intensive instruction will be done while they are under our roof.
I fear that parents are too busy to spend the time necessary to help their children mature mentally. We send them to school and Bible class and we may think that is sufficient. But we would be wrong.
Arguably the most powerful passage in all of Scripture about teaching our children comes from Moses.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
The passage above is very challenging. This was given to the Jews but it certainly applies to us today. The passage in bold above must be our goal as parents as we constantly look for teaching moments. If we are creative, we will see them everywhere.
When we are in the car with our children or at the dinner table or whenever we are together, find a way to engage them in discussion. Start this early and they will be accustomed to it when they get older. Laugh and be silly as the situation warrants but find a way to teach.
Use questions and guide them through the discussions and let them come to the final conclusions on their own. Always be supportive in the process so they will feel safe enough to do it again.
The discussions must be organic, rising out of the context. Children will never tolerate phoniness. We must become skilled at looking for moral and spiritual situations to engage our children in scenarios that seem real to them. Don’t talk above their heads or they will close down.
As children grow, their minds must grow, as well.
- Teach them to understand and love God’s Word.
- Teach them humility and self-respect.
- Teach the, about Satan’s influence and sin.
- Teach them to see beyond themselves.
- Teach them to take ideas apart to divide truth from error.
- Teach them to make logical arguments.
- Teach them to reason through emotion.
- Teach them that morality is not situational.
- Teach them how to handle real world scenarios.
- Teach them about consequences and accepting responsibility,
- Teach them how to properly make application to themselves.
- Teach them that they should find useful lessons from every situation.
- Teach them wisdom.
- Teach them how to deal with the their peers and the opposite sex.
- Teach them to love learning and reading.
- Teach them to find their skills and foster them and use them for God.
- Teach them to understand their weaknesses and how to rise above them.
- Teach them to treat everyone equally.
- Teach them how to read people.
- Teach them how to handle conflict in a healthy way.
- Teach them to separate people from their actions.
- Teach them to be aware of their surroundings and to be cautious with strangers.
- Teach them the dangers of materialism.
- Teach them to take care of what they have.
- Teach them how to shop and to be frugal.
- Teach them to let things go and to avoid displaced anger.
- Teach them how to love themselves and others.
Countless more could be listed. The process never stops as they grow. We simply adapt to their age, interests and abilities.
Find out what they like and look for openings to engage them in their world. It is important that we know their friends and learn as much as we can about their universe. Only then can we penetrate their shell and accelerate the learning process.
We must build trust with our children when they are young so they do not erect a barrier between themselves and us as they get older.
- Give them unconditional love and support.
- Allow them to fail.
- Be willing to admit our failures and use them as teachable moments.
- Be the kind of example they can follow.
- Help them see the need for mentors.
- Don’t be intrusive or clingy.
- Learn when to pull back and when to step in.
- Learn their specific needs and boundaries.
Teaching our children to think for themselves is essential to their maturity. This process can also accelerate their spiritual growth as they analyze, make application and work through scenarios as a Christian with our assistance.
Along the way, we must keep the lines of communication open.
When they go through a difficult situation or conflict, wait until they have settled down and use questions to help them learn from they have endured. Taking situations and ideas apart helps them know what to keep and what to throw away. Hopefully, they won’t repeat their bad decisions too often.
By learning that God’s Word applies to their lives and guides them down better, happier roads, they will be more likely to develop their own faith as they grow in the Lord.
As we can see, this requires a lot of work and attention from parents but we need to be able to say that we have taught them all that we can to help them be mature adults on their own.