Our family recently had the opportunity to visit with friends at their daughter’s birthday party. The kids had a blast, we ate some good food, and we were able to catch up on recent happenings. When we left, instead of walking away feeling refreshed and encouraged, I found myself thoughtful and frustrated.
During our short visit, the father expressed to my husband that we ought to enjoy these young years while they last. His reasoning? Once our kids hit the teen years, we would lose our children to the world and they would rebel.
He explained that all children need to work out their own faith and go through their own gospel experience. (Translation in my mind: they will through hard/bad things and THEN they will truly understand their faith.)
While I believe his heart was in the right place, he truly was meaning to impart wisdom, I believe him to be wrong. Do all children need to accept God on their own? YES! While it might sound like a cliche; God does not have any grandchildren. We don’t piggyback on our parent’s faith; we need to have our own. What I do not believe is that all children need to go through a hard, rebellious stage before accepting Christ as Savior.
I believe his children went, and are, going through a difficult stage. They used to be homeschooled and are now being exposed to the public school system. (This is not to say the public school system alone is responsible for their recent decline, but it sure does contribute.) The new friends and circumstances are having a greater influence in their lives than the parents would like. Their children are behaving in a manner that displeases the parents and, therefore, the parents surmise that all children will go through this stage, no matter what the parents say and do.
While there are no foolproof ways to keep our children from rebelling, there are steps we can take which help them make the right choices. Not all children go through this stage.
So, how do we go about preventing rebellion? I honestly think it all boils down to relationships. When our children know we love them more than anything and all our choices surround this fact, they are less likely to rebel. When our children love us in return, they will do everything in their power to please us and bring us joy.
The key to squashing rebellion is love. We ought to be loving on our kids constantly and allowing them to love on us. We ought to have open communication, with lots of talks about why things get done. When we love on our kids to this extent, we know who their friends are and their friends’ families. We know who is offering influence and we curb those choices; explaining them to our kids and why.
Incidentally, love is not casual permissiveness. (Meaning, we don’t just give them what they want.) Love sometimes means correction, discipline, and consequences.
I believe that when our children see the love that is evident in our relationships with God, in our marriages, and for them, they will naturally want to please us. This love also opens doors for how they view God.
Through our conversations, our actions, and our affection, our children see faith in action. They will see the blessings that come with a life lived for Him. They will see the distinction between those who rebel and those who obey. Our children will naturally come to their faith and without ever having to experience a tragic testimony.
Does this mean our children are perfect? Heavens, no. Truthfully, we aren’t perfected yet so why would be expect this of them? What this does mean, is that they will not willfully go out and hurt themselves, us, or God. While they might make mistakes, they are not doing so out of mutinous emotion.
I can always tell when I am failing to love on my children as much as I ought. Our children question my authority, they act out, and they have a hard time controlling their own emotions. This is a wake up call for me. I have somehow dropped the ball and need to bring things back into perspective. Once I get things back into focus, our children naturally resume their loving nature. The problem is usually me!
If I learned one thing from that afternoon with our friends, it was this… unless I want my child to contribute to this statistic, I need to be active about preventing it. I have a choice. I can allow this to happen or I can strive to prevent it. The only way I can see that happening is through strong doses of love.
When our children see our love for them and there is a mutual love for us, we can overcome most any obstacle.
Do you know a family whose children have yet to rebel? What do you think was the key to their success?