Preparing Our Children to Face the World
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You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you (Deut. 4:40).
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Parenting is an adventure unlike any other. It's a crazy mix of boredom and drama, joy and pain, that teaches us some valuable lessons about our own life.
But amidst all the fun and frustration, it's easy to lose sight of the real objective of parenting. God places our children in our care for less than two decades, and what we do as caregivers during that small window of opportunity will determine the trajectory of the rest of their lives. The day will come when these adorable little creatures will have to step out and face the world’s ugliness by themselves, and we will not be there to protect them. Our job right now is to prepare them for that role.
How can we equip them to take on a world that is intent on destroying them?
First, we must make sure they learn at an early age the immutable relationship between behaviors and consequences. Everything in this world produces fruit after its own kind, regardless of our feelings. If we continually step in to fix our kids' mistakes and shield them from the effects of their foolishness, they will never learn the wisdom that is essential to living well. They will enter adulthood ill-prepared to make good choices, and life will be very cruel to them.
Second, we must teach them about God and His role in history. This world may seem a jumble of chaos, but behind the scenes is a Master Planner who is guiding everything to a predetermined conclusion. Our children must be taught that they are part of that plan, and that they must behave accordingly. Furthermore, we must reassure them that whatever the disappointments and tragedies we encounter along the way, God is still in control, and someday He will make it all right again. As they grow older they will need that bedrock of faith to help them weather the storms they are bound to encounter.
Finally, we must not only teach these truths, but model them in our own lives. The best way for children to learn the values of love, kindness, loyalty, patience, forgiveness, optimism, sacrificial giving, and all the other noble qualities that are so rare in our broken world, is to see them exemplified in their parents. They need to see a beautiful alternative to the hideousness that surrounds them.
We want our children to live happy and productive lives. For that to happen, however, we must equip them with the knowledge and skills that will maximize their chance of success. We have only a few short years to make it happen. Let's not squander the opportunity.