Helping find truth for kids in a world of lies.
Last week on a radio show the host asked me, “Jonathan, in your book If I Had a Parenting Do Over, you talked about seven vital changes you’d make in parenting today. What is the one biggest parenting practice you wish you could do over?”
Without hesitation I responded, “I wish I had spent less time trying to block out the lies and more time focusing on the truth.”
Martin Luther King Jr. said:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
That’s amazing parenting advice, and it’s relevant today more than ever before. Today ‘Generation-screen’ is inundated with distractions: porn just a click away, poor role models infesting their Instagram feed, music with misleading lyrics, and every form of enticing entertainment imaginable from YouTube to Netflix. It’s easy for parents to become scared about these influences, panic and overreact. Sometimes we become so focused on finding the perfect defense we forget about our offensive line! (I know that well, I’m a Denver Broncos fan). Here lies the mistake. Once we find the perfect porn filters or software monitoring, we subconsciously think, “Whew. Now my kids are safe from the lies.” The question remains: So who’s gonna tell them the truth?
Mom and Dad have the amazing opportunity (not to mention responsibility) to talk with their kids about truth. Common Sense Media makes this clear in the very beginning of their article 5 Ways to Block Porn from Your Kids Devices:
You can set all the blockers, filters and parental controls in the universe, and not only will your kids still see porn, you still have to talk to them about what porn is, why it exists and why it’s not for them. In fact, using tech tools to limit adult content works best when combined with conversations that convey your values about love, sexuality and relationships.
In a world so potent with lies, today’s parents need to be that much more proactive about engaging their kids in conversations about truth. The big question is—what does this actually look like?
Here are three ways I have observed parents experience success setting the stage to dialogue about truth:
1. Don’t just drop your kids off at youth group
Key word: just. Church, youth groups and Bible studies are awesome ways for kids to learn more about God, build community with other believers, and connect with positive adult mentors. And yes, that two or three hours of church each week can be powerful, because the Gospel message is powerful (“the power of God at work saving everyone who believes,” Romans 1:16, NLT)… but that doesn’t mean your job is done.
When my kids were young, I remember a very eye-opening evening where our family was talking and laughing together in a hotel room (with my speaking schedule we spent many a night in hotels when my kids were growing up) and somehow the subject of “Father Abraham” came up. In a matter of moments we realized our kids had no idea who Abraham was. My kids had literally spent years in Sunday School. We just assumed they knew the story of Abraham and Sarah, or at least the silly song… Father Abraham had many sons…
I remember asking them, “Well you guys at least remember the story of Jacob and Esau… the two brothers who fought over their birthright?”
“Joseph?” I pressed on, hoping for a spark of recognition. “Coat of many colors. Sold into slavery by his brothers? Became ruler of Egypt?”
“Moses? Ten Commandments?”
“Oh yeah,” my son finally spoke up. “The Prince of Egypt” (referring to the animated film).
Lori and I sighed and looked at each other like, What are our kids doing in Sunday School each week…because they sure aren’t learning any Bible? But that blame shifting only lasted for a few seconds because it became obvious to us, maybe we should be proactively talking about this stuff as a family too! Duh!
Yes, I’m confessing that we really didn’t do family devotions of any kind up to that point. But at that moment…everything changed. And we started in Genesis 1, which was really easy because I had just taken an Old Testament class in seminary and Lori had just finished an inductive Bible study on the book of Genesis at our church.
Which leads me to another proactive practice…
2. Get rooted in scripture
Key word: rooted. Think of the tree in Psalm 1 planted by the river. It grew strong and green when everything not connected to a life source was dry and dead. When mom and dad grow roots, that’s when they produce fruit.
Yeah…that means it starts with us.
I remember hearing some amazing parenting advice for dads: If you want to be a good parent, it starts by being a good husband. A good marriage rubs off on the kids. We’re talking about the trickle-down effect. The more mom and dad become transformed by scripture, the more the truth naturally flows from them.
Click here to read more.
Source: Church Leaders