If you take the entire “guess” out of “guesswork”, you still have work.
Don’t assume you know what your son or daughter is going through. When you assume you know then it is easy for you to filter what your kids are going through with your own preconceptions and/or paradigm that you developed as a young person years ago when you were a teen or child. Your personal experiences should be the basis that you use to empathize with them in their struggles but not as the basis by which you judge them or their particular situation because you did not experience the pressure their culture places on them today.
Understanding is the key to leading.
How can you lead your child in a relationship with God if you don’t know?
- Where are they?
What I mean here is, where do they stand spiritually? Just because they were born in a home that has Christian parents does not make them Christians by default. They may or may not share your values. You would do them and yourself a great service if you would simply sit down with them and ask them about their spirituality. Don’t confuse church attendance with spirituality. They are not necessarily the same thing.
- Who is speaking to them?
When we were children the best way to keep us “safe” was to keep us isolated from society at home. The home is no longer a secluded refuge. Your living room or your child’s bedroom is accessible to the entire world via the internet. Check out their facebook profile, friends list, twitter, tumblr and/or the other host of sites available. Take their ipod or mp3 player and listen to it, all of it. These little devices can be the difference in their spiritual success or failure. There are many free resources online that you can use to judge the lyrical content of the music they are listening to.
- What direction they are going?
Spirituality is not neutral. So, what direction are they headed in? You, as an engaged parent, are the road, the fence and the safety net to keep them headed in the right direction and catch them when they fall down.
Remember, they are not miniature versions of you. They are unique individuals that are going through unique challenges that you never faced as a young person whether you were in church or not.
Youth ministry is not God’s idea. It’s a response to a deficiency in the family. With that in mind you as a parent must understand that the role of the children’s or youth ministry is not to parent (v.) your child. We do not, can not and will not replace you in your role of leading your child to Christ.
You must accept the responsibility of where your child is now and where they are headed. So many parents bemoan the spiritual condition of their children and condemn them for their spiritual location. Remember, if your child has ended up somewhere they shouldn’t be, they were following you. It’s easy to say, “I didn’t lead them to destruction,” but can we make the better statement, “I lead them to safety”?
Fathers, don’t exasperate your children, but take them by the hand and lead them in the ways of the Lord.
It’s easy to fight for what you believe is right and/or true. It’s harder and more effective to guide into what is right and/or true.
Affirm: To support or uphold the validity of; confirm.
Never minimize their struggles or accomplishments. Their life has merit, now. They must have something to believe in and they must be believed in.
Empower is not the same as enable.
Two children can grow up in the same environment, even the same household and have totally different mindsets. Typically the difference is that they were either enabled or empowered. This has great spiritual implications for our young people.
An empowered child is given permission to succeed.
Empowerment is based on knowledge.
An enabled child is given permission to be excused.
Enablement is based on ignorance.
“He’s like that because of his heritage” is a cop out. My father killed my mother with his bare hands. I do not automatically inherit that behavior. I can be influenced by my father’s behavior, but I have to choose to be that way.
1. something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth; an inherited lot or portion
2. something reserved for one: the heritage of the righteous.
a. something that has been or may be inherited by legal descent or succession.
b. any property, esp. land, that devolves by right of inheritance.
To receive a trait from one’s parents by genetic transmission.
You can’t expect John the Baptist if you didn’t start before the beginning.
So many parents tend to try to wait until their child is old enough to make his own choice, and it’s true, ultimately every person has to at some point make their own choice about their belief or disbelief, but the truth of the matter is that we are born pointed in the wrong direction. You can’t make the choice for your child, but you can be a great help to him/her if you are there, constantly pointing them in the right direction, coaching them, leading them, correcting them.
Remember, John was a miracle baby but he still had to be taught and guided as a Nazerite. Samson was also a Nazerite, it’s easy to contrast the difference between John and Samson. One was empowered the other was enabled. Of course, we can argue that Samson was ultimately successful because he killed more in his death than he did in his lifetime, but we can’t ignore the fact that he died blind and in bondage to his enemies because of bad choices that he was enabled to make as a young man. Delilah wasn’t Samson’s first Philistine.
John the Baptist also died in captivity to his enemies, but because he made the right decisions and wouldn’t back down from the truth.
Shame is based in pride.
Some people “punish” their children out of embarrassment because the child’s behavior affects what people think about them, not because the child does right or wrong.
I’ve seen kids running wild, making messes and exhibiting extremely negative behavior with their parent present and completely oblivious until they realize that the people around them are looking at them (the parent) in a negative light. Then, because they are embarrassed, not for the sake of their child, they over correct their child. They’ll punish the child or make a ridiculous threat that they and the child both know they will not carry out. They shame their child as part of the show that the parent is putting on to mask their embarrassment.
Discipline and punishment are not the same thing. One is based on education for character development and the other is based on training actions through fear and/or deception.