Quit Trying to be Cool and Lead Your Kids
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Read time: 5 minutes | by Mark Carter with Laura Forman
If you’re a parent, you have an invitation to respond to.
God invites us to LEAD our children.
To NOT respond to the invitation means we are assuming our kids will get all they need through media, friends we don’t know, music, and every other influence the enemy and the world can throw at them when we are not around.
For some parents,
• we feel the pressure to be cool,
• to avoid overburdening our kids with parental perspective,
• or to avoid any POSSIBLE pressure to change their behavior or thinking.
But none of these are a part of God’s job description for parents.
Go ahead and be a fun parent, but LEAD them without apology.
God’s vision for parents is found in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV):
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (emphasis added)
Part of walking along the way meant that as the child encounters new situations, the parent was THERE to help them think through what they are seeing in light of God’s word.
There are more enemies than ever trying to deceive, kill, and steal our kids FROM the way. We can’t stop this, and our kids also have a will of their own, so we shouldn’t take too much responsibility for what they will simply choose to do despite our influence.
But as far as it depends on us, let’s aim at all possible protections.
Here are two things God has led my wife Mackenzie and I to message/do with our five kids:
1. Slowly introduce your kids to ‘the world.’
We’re not talking about the planet here, but the worldly system of God-opposing values that the enemy tries to lure each child into embracing from day one (see 1 John 2:15).
From the moment they’re born, the timer is ticking down to when our kids will have to face the world without mom or dad.
WE want to be the ones to shape how our kids are making sense of the world they are encountering. While we can’t protect them from everything, we’re working to create the lens through which they see the world.
A mistake that many parents make is either:
- Introducing their kids TOO slowly to the world, so they are unprepared to deal with the realities of sin and temptation,
- Or, often worse, introducing them to significant worldliness too quickly by throwing them into the deep end of the pool, with no guidance or wisdom about those things that can truly hurt them and their life in the future.
For us, this looks like controlling the quantity and content on their devices through internet filters like Circle and CovenantEyes. We also watch most of our streamed TV and movies (Netflix, Amazon) through VidAngel.
Of course, giving our kids eyes to see the world is not just about limiting their exposure to certain things but helping them think through the things they ARE encountering.
We try to build-in time to ask:
- How they’re processing specific things they see online,
- What their friends think about this or that topic,
- What was godly, and what was evil about the show or movie we just watched.
Need help with leading teens? Lead them to Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is such a fantastic guide for helping parents understand the WISDOM lessons kids need, especially as they enter the teenage years.
2. Put books everywhere.
Of course, if they’re genuinely encountering the world, they will need much more than we can give them. That’s why teaching them to love books, reading, and pursuing a passion for learning will be among the best ways we can equip them.
Reading gives us eyes to see more of the world as God does. Good theology is good living, and they won’t have much worth saying if they don’t devour good information.
- Pray for your kids to develop a taste for reading.
- Spend money on books.
- Put books everywhere.
- Review and ask questions about the books they’ve read.
How is the Lord leading you to change, to greater impress His ways upon your children?
What is one small-yet-tangible action you can implement over the next week toward this end?
Heavenly Father, shape my heart to want what You want for my children. Convict me in the ways I have shied away from leading my children. Please give me the strength and courage to lead my kids, not by the world’s standards, but instead, to crave your ways.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Want to go deeper?
Pick up the Grace for Parents series at the Bible Leadership store.