Here’s a short list of mistakes that all parents can make when it comes to seeing, understanding, and biblically responding to the spiritual growing pains of life. (This is as much to myself as to others.) Stop and think about it—and pray for godly wisdom in responding to the issues of your children’s hearts with proper compassion, authority, and biblical instruction.
Too often, when our kids struggle, this is our reaction:
1. Denial – denying issues or naively thinking that there aren’t any issues to deal with.
2. Embarrassment – hoping others don’t find out about an issue—which causes me to not seek help or counsel.
3. Defensiveness – taking offense at someone’s attempt to deal with an issue, or allowing my child to avoid personal responsibility by blaming others.
4. Unresponsiveness – knowing there’s an issue but hoping it will just go away on its own (you know—a phase).
5. Weariness – knowing there’s an issue, but being too tired to respond, or becoming discouraged that nothing I’ve tried appears to be working.
6. Duplicity – not wanting to deal with my own issue, and thus, creating an allowance for my child’s.
7. Over-reaction – blowing up over the issue rather than contexualizing it biblically and responding appropriately.
The answers: 1. Expect your kids to struggle. 2. And, since everybody’s kids struggle, don’t be embarrassed when they do. 3. Be supportive when another authority loves your child enough to help—even if the child whines about it. 4. Don’t expect issues to disappear, they usually get worse. (See this article about passive parenting.) 5. No matter how tired or discouraged you are, don’t stop doing the right things—like praying and laboring. 6. Be willing to examine your own heart first so you can authentically help your child. 7. Put every issue into the context of obeying and honoring God, and respond in that light.
Let’s face it, our best parenting skills cannot cover the fact that we’re human! We all have blind spots. And our children all have an enemy who is targeting them. Every kid has issues and every parent is called of God to biblically nurture and lead through those issues. Expect the enemy to come after your kids—and ask God for wisdom and strength to do the right thing when he does.
“…bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4