Our family recently had the opportunity to visit with friends at their daughter’s birthday party. The kids had a blast, and we were able to catch up on recent happenings. But instead of walking away feeling refreshed and encouraged, I found myself thoughtful and frustrated. During our short visit, the father had expressed to my husband how he hoped we had enjoyed the young years while they had lasted. His reasoning? He went on to explain that all children need to work out their own faith and go through their own gospel experience. Now that our children were teens, we would lose our children to the world and they would rebel.
While I believe his heart was in the right place – he meant to impart wisdom – his words rubbed me raw. Do all children need to accept God on their own? YES! While it might sound like a cliché; 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. 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 relationship. When our children know we love them and our choices reflect this love, 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 have open communication with lots of talk about why decisions are made in our home. Love is not casual permissiveness. (We don’t just give them what they want.) Love sometimes means correction, discipline, and consequences. 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.
I believe that when our children see the evidence of love in our relationship 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 necessarily having to experience a tragic testimony.
Does this mean our children are perfect? Heavens, no! We aren’t perfected yet so why would be expected 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 children to contribute to this statistic, I need to be proactive. 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. Supernatural, unconditional love; which only comes from the Father. With His help will my children be victorious in working out their faith.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
~ Proverbs 22:6
Your Turn!: Do you know a family whose children have yet to rebel? What do you think was the key to their success?