Setting the example and modeling the behaviors that you desire from your children are indispensable. You may think you are fooling them, but children are a lot smarter than you think as they are able to pick up on subtle clues in words and actions which you may not think they heard. And these careless words and actions you let slip in a moment of weakness or unawareness will reveal to them the truth that you thought was hidden away. It is never a good idea to harbor secret sins around your children, thinking that no one will ever know and no one will ever be affected because, the truth is, someone will know, in time, and there is always at least some impact on those around you, even if they don’t understand the influences that are shaping your behavior. There are, however, times in which you may prayerfully and with guidance from God and agreement with your spouse, withhold information or situations from your children because they are not mature enough to understand the situations and will be unduly burdened at their tender ages with the ugliness of the world. Moreover, if they catch glimpses of some of the ugly realities of the world before you are ready to reveal such to them, Satan may use the situation to weave mischief in the mind of your child. Unfortunately, there are times when they find out about certain situations when you were trying to protect them from knowing. When this happens, and the child is hit with something much bigger than their immature minds and hearts can handle, it is best for you to speak honestly and forthrightly with your children about the situation. You can turn it into a learning situation, maybe to discuss the biblical principles at stake and what should have happened versus what actually happened, and you can comfort and reassure your child that this incident does not change the world, nor does it change your moral principles, nor does it make them unsafe.
But as I noted before, parenting is a huge responsibility, and to get it right, you need God’s help. You need time alone with God, time meditating on Scripture and on God’s ways, time laying your burdens at God’s feet and seeking His will, and even time with other believers on a regular basis. These are the things that will give you a healthy spirit and make you into the parent that your child needs. As your children grow, you should also be growing and maturing, learning from God and gaining more wisdom about life, parenting, and how the world works. Your skill sets absolutely must grow and expand so that you will be ready for the more difficult tasks of how to train your children and prepare them for adulthood. You should have learned by the time that they become teenagers the fine art of being their friend, their sounding board for their problems, their encourager during their various trials, their mentor, shaping them toward the right behaviors, etc. You should also have learned the fine art of shaping their behavior with subtlety instead of the overt controlling measures that you used when they were younger children such as spanking, nagging, etc. You should be treating your teenagers with dignity and respect, allowing them to voice their opinions without constantly critiquing them. Perhaps they will express some thoughts that are immature, but you can ameliorate the situation by gently offering another perspective. Certainly, there will be times in which they will say things that violate the principles to which the family is committed, but you can correct them in a gentle or humorous way which does not wound their dignity, driving them back into emotional cover where you may not be able to reach them. This is a very vulnerable time for them, so these teenage years require more finesse and patience. But rest assured, if you have done your job right and followed Scriptural principles of love in raising them, you will begin to reap much of your work during these years, seeing your children accomplish so many things and seeing signs of their deepening relationship with God.
I hope to finish on this tomorrow. There was so much that needed to be written on the topic, and God has inspired me to write about the topics that will be most beneficial to you, my readers. As always, I am grateful for every one of you, and I pray for you often. I pray that my words will bless your day, encouraging you, strengthening you, teaching you, and arming you for a more fulfilled walk of Christian service.
I pray that you will always remember that we are all in Christian service, not just the preachers or the church staff. We are all “ambassadors for Christ” and all members of a “royal priesthood,” and we have been chosen to minister in areas which no one else can minister in but us. There are people that only you or I can reach for service, encouragement, or even witness of the Gospel that no one else can reach, not even the preacher. So take joy in your special, indispensable mission for this world, knowing that God loves you, He has great plans for you, He wants to help you learn to “move mountains,” and He wants to grow your Christian character, love, faith, and wisdom ever greater day-by-day.