It’s easy as Christian parents to try to press our children into the shape we think they should be.
So they’ll get out there and fight the good fight.
So they’ll slay whatever “dragon” (piano, football, high academic achievement, good-paying job, wise choices, etc.) we always wished we’d slayed.
So they’ll save the world, … or even just be saved themselves.
But what happens when that sweet little one you raised up to know Jesus and to do all the things you wanted him/her to do launches out of the cookie cutter into some other shape your heart wasn’t prepared for?
- Love your children and have grace for them. Remember all the ways God has rescued you and brought you to Himself, and then trust Him with your children’s lives. 1 Peter 4:8.
- Give your child room to question and explore. Many times, it is the one who resists and doubts that becomes the most passionate of believers once convinced of the Truth. (Look at CS Lewis!) Use your child’s doubts and questions as an open door for Truth to walk through. John 14:6.
- Give your child the freedom to make mistakes. Our failures are a great way to learn. Think back on your own life. What has God taught you through your mistakes? Like our 12-year-old said one day to his little sister: “There are two ways to learn. Take mom and dad’s advice, or mess up. Either way you learn. But the first way is easiest.”
- Let your children be children. Remember they are still growing, still learning, even as you are. Your ideal of what your child should be may not be God’s, after all. Isaiah 55:8-9. Let them play, pray, learn, and discover God’s purposes for their lives together with Him and with you.
- Lay all your opinions, ideas, and judgments about your children at Jesus’ feet and ask Him how He sees them. God did not create this child to right all your wrongs and become what you never had the chance to be. He created them to know Him, love Him, and lead others into His love. Only He knows the many purposes He has for them; only He knows their future. Don’t fight against God’s purposes. Join Him.
- Be their safe place. Listen to them. Repeat back to them, “I hear you saying you feel … because…. Is that right?” Acknowledge that their opinions matter. Apologize for any way you’ve contributed to their pain. And pray with them, seeking the Lord for what He says about each situation. (See Part 2: Modeling Listening to God Before Making Decisions.)
- Let God change you. The best way to pave the way for your children’s freedom is to be free yourself. (For Bible studies on listening to God’s voice and finding freedom from strongholds, sins, and wrong thought processes that control your reactions rather than the Holy Spirit, try Dare to Become a Kingdom Culture Leader, Volume 1 and Volume 2; or Dare to Be a Mighty Warrior and Delight to Be a Woman of Wonder.
- Don’t worry. But do pray. If you’ve given your children into God’s hands, then rest in His sovereignty, love and power to draw them to Himself. Don’t just worry with your eyes closed. Philippians 4:6-7. Truly pray for them: for the veil to be lifted from their eyes so they can see Jesus as He really is, for whatever walls of doubt or pride to come down, for the things of this world to leave them empty and longing for Jesus, and for whatever else God shows you to pray for. Seek the Lord for Scripture to pray over them (a powerful way to agree with God and pray back to Him what He’s already said).
These children God has blessed you with He has placed in your care a short amount of time. In the first few years, they will lean on you like you lean on Him. But when they reach around age 10 or 11, they will begin leaning on someone or something else. Prepare them well to lean on Jesus. (See Part 1: Arm Them Well with the Word.)
If your children have already passed that age and are not leaning on the Lord, all is not lost. Keep praying for them and loving them back into His arms. And let God change you. In the end, it may be the difference they see in your life that draws them back to Himself.