(Whether a parent yourself, or a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, a neighbor, a teacher, a scout leader, or whatever your role in the lives of the children around you, this important series will give you valuable tips on how to influence those kids for the Lord! To access the entire “Bringing up Kids God’s Way” mini-series, please click here.)
We see it around us all of the time. The rebellious teen goes against his parents; parents throw their impossible child out of the house; A 16 year-old runs away and her parents don’t realizing it until hours or days later; Teen-and even pre-teen!-pregnancies on the rise; Children getting into drugs, alcohol, sex; Children terrorizing or killing other children . . . And the list goes on. How often don’t we hear kids, especially teens, saying: “My parents don’t have time for me;” “My dad doesn’t understand me;” “My mom doesn’t want me around;” or “My parents don’t even like me!” But hey! Our kids aren’t like that, are they? They’re just innocent little kids! We would hear such words in our home!
But then we wake up one day and realize that our kids don’t have the time of day for us, and we wonder: “Where did we go wrong?”
It happens, friends, even in the best of homes, with parents who have the most love and the best of intentions!
Why? Studies have shown that the major reason kids get into drugs and alcohol is they don’t feel loved or accepted or understood. Kids generally act out the behavior they see and feel at home, and they tend to bully because they feel out of control, like no one understands them, like they have to take it out on someone. Basically, kids rebel because they are angry! Is it any wonder that the apostle Paul admonishes parents to avoid things that will make our children angry? “And you, fathers, DO NOT PROVOKE YOUR CHILDREN TO WRATH, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 NKJV) But how did they, in a home that may have been filled with love and good intentions, get to be this way? I would like to propose that the basis for much of what makes kids angry, much of what drives them to rebellion, is not so much what we, as parents, do, but rather, what we DON’T do! These behaviors happen when parents don’t take the initiative to have a relationship with their children! But wait a minute. I’m being a bit judgmental, aren’t I? Most of you likely DO see your children as important. You DO want a relationship with them, and you always have! What you don’t understand is why they continually shun you!
Friends, wanting a relationship with your children isn’t enough. You have to avidly pursue that relationship with them, and I cannot emphasize enough how important this is to establish right from day one! If little children know their parents love being with them; if little children know that they can always turn to grandma and grandpa with their problems; if little children know the lady next door or their teacher or their scout leader will always listen to them; if little children know that their aunt or uncle will always love them unconditionally; if this is the message given to children throughout all of their childhood, then when those same children hit teenage years, you will be the first one they go to when they have problems! Your teens will share their thoughts and fears with you, and your home will become a safe haven, a place of escape!
And perhaps most importantly, your ideals will form a much broader base in the value set each child must form for himself or herself. This means that your child will stand a much better chance of knowing the Lord, a much better chance of staying out of drugs and alcohol, a much better chance of staying out of premarital sex; a much better chance of growing up well grounded and mature. If we could only realize the value of relationship in our children’s lives from birth on, then much of what teens go through could be prevented.
Like any relationship however, a relationship with your kids must be nurtured. You can’t expect your child to open up to you if you’ve never given them the opportunity to do so, if you’ve never encouraged it. You can’t expect your children to understand that you love them unconditionally if you don’t show them your love by doing things with them, spending time with them, listening to them, being part of their lives . . . On a DAILY basis! And if you don’t have the opportunity to be part of their daily lives, then do so whenever you possibly can!
And how can this type of a relationship be nurtured in our fast-paced society?
The answer, naturally, is multi-faceted, and will be addressed in the four upcoming devotionals. We will first focus on the importance of three vital words: Stop, Look, and Listen! Then we will take a close look at the role of communication. Join us next week for Bringing up Kids God’s Way, Part 6bi: Stop!
In His love,
(To access the entire “Bringing up Kids God’s Way” mini-series, please click here.)