During my morning scroll through Facebook, I noticed an article that someone had shared that addressed why our daughters are going from princesses to promiscuity. I encourage you to read the article, and the link at the bottom that addresses the same issue in our sons. The author made a statement that jumped out to me and has remained on my mind all day: “We need to stop putting our children in adult situations and expecting them to make wise, God-honoring decisions.”
Much has been made about children being forced to grow up too fast. Many place this blame on the education system, as children are learning things earlier than their parents- and at a faster rate. There is plenty of blame to go around, but the blame must start at home. While are children may be growing up too fast, are dad and mom stressing their spiritual growth? Are dad and mom growing in their walk with the Lord?
Two instances stand out in my mind over the last several years. I think of the father who was adamant that his daughter was going to live a life of purity. He had talked to her about the issue in her pre-teen years and had the attitude that many dad’s have, “I will kill you and him!” As she became a teenager, he had several of his rings made into a purity ring for the girl, took her on a date, and gave her the ring and a challenge, and bragged at church about the evening. Within a couple of years, the father had his second (at least) affair, which destroyed the girl and the basis for the ring and her commitment. She soon became sexually active.
I also think of the teenager who attended church with her mother, yet she and her mother both had a sexual relationship with an older teenager.
Those examples may be extreme, but understand: our parenting has long-lasting effects on our children. I have seen multiple times that a child’s relationship with their parents, especially their father, has a significant influence on how they perceive God. For perhaps the first time in church history, many of those inclined toward belief–our own children–are actively rejecting or passively abandoning the faith. I am convinced that the problem is not what is happening at church but what desperately needs to happen at home.
No matter how creatively we proclaim God’s Word to children at church, they are more likely to believe their experience of the faith at home. That is why when the Youth Minister is pulling his hair out to determine why he cannot get the teenagers to attend faithfully and serve regularly, the Pastor is in his office without any hair over the same concerns with their parents.
While there are some things mentioned it the article that can be done to keep our children from growing up too fast, we need to be concerned about their spiritual growth. That same concern should exist for our own spiritual growth because we cannot lead our children where we have not been.
Let me offset the stories above with a positive example. There was a family in the church that did not attend faithfully. I visited with them regularly due to their lack of attendance, and they always had a good excuse. Most of the excuses, though, had to do with hunting season or the fish biting. I began to see some growth in the parents, which was confirmed one morning when the mother was asking about some youth activities and mentioned that the son did not want to participate because he would rather be hunting. Then, she said, “We have had it all wrong and we are making changes in our family.” They did make changes in their priorities and I watched this teenager develop a strong faith. That is what it is all about!
Tiger Woods became a great golfer because he had a highly intentional dad who taught him the disciples of golf at an early age. In a similar manner, we must be intentional about the spiritual growth of our children. It is one area where they cannot grow up too fast.