By Megan Schrieber
When our children were younger, my husband and I garnered many compliments on their kindness and manners. The one comment that left me uneasy would fall along the lines of us doing a ‘great job raising them’. They were all under the age of 12 and we knew we had a host of challenges awaiting them beyond exercising good manners. I would joke and ask them to circle back when those same children were 50 to revisit their analysis.
We decided early on that raising a child to be faithful, ethical, and a purveyor of the truth was our end goal in their earthly walk; and being a saint and arriving in heaven was our end goal for their eternal walk. But how do we do that with the current culture? Bullying, drinking, juuling, sexting, hooking up, contraception, porn... the list goes on. We may never fully know the solution until we are in our 90’s, but for now I share where we have seen fruit in their faith and ethics walk while navigating the teen and college years.
Honesty. This parenting tool has tremendous power to build up or tear down. Know your child, know the situation, and know where they are in their walk all while being honest. Honest about your past, your failures, your mistakes and, most importantly, your redemption. When your 15- year-old asks if you drank in high school: be honest. The questions get harder, so be prepared. Always remember to be age appropriate but do not forget they have already heard and/or seen things way before their time.
Vulnerability. This tool is much harder than being honest, but it works in tandem with honesty, creating an authentic bond with your child. We can be honest about our underage drinking with them, but it is our vulnerability to what lead us to make the said choice that will open their heart to see a situation in a different light. Responding “Yes, I drank in high school, but I shouldn’t have,” gives them no relatability to you. A vulnerable response like, “I remember how I felt...I was so insecure about how I fit in and I actually thought that drinking would bring me to a cooler status.” Now you have a serious conversation starter.
Revelation of God’s Plan This tool requires us to have a close relationship with God, Our Father, so we can illuminate to our children how God never forsake us, even when we are not making the right decisions. Be honest and vulnerable when you connect the dots of how God was present at every stage of your life: during the good choices you made and during the awful ones you wish you never made. Reveal to them how God’s redemptive power has penetrated the darkest corners of your life. Let them see how God worked profoundly in your life and they’ll begin to search for it in their own.
Discernment While this tool seems like a monumental undertaking in and of itself, a simplified version of discernment can be less intimidating by allowing our children, no matter their age, to begin the process of understanding God’s voice, our voice, and the enemy’s voice. God’s voice often leads us to focus on the other, in encouragement, truth and love. Our voice often leads us to focus on ourselves, in a manner of insecurities or fears. Satan’s voice often leads us to focus on where we have failed and sinned. The enemy seems to start out reasonable but quickly escalates to lies and betrayal. The internal conversation may go like this:
God’s voice: “Be honest with your son, he needs your love and encouragement on this topic.”
Our voice: “But if he knows the truth about my high school drinking, he will think less of me and not respect my discipline.”
Satan’s voice: “You did your fair share of misbehaving. How is he going to take a fraud like you seriously?” Once you can recognize these patterns, you can tackle the parenting issue with Our Heavenly Father as your leader.
Parenting requires thousands of talks on a myriad of topics; however, we need not get overwhelmed with the next battle we have to fight, we simply lean into God’s goodness knowing that he has equipped us to lead his children through our honesty, vulnerability, revelation and discernment.