How much will we as parents end up costing our children? I ask this in all seriousness and many of these thoughts are my own reflections on my relationship with my children and my Heavenly Father. If we as Christian parents are willing to sell our children to the world for a few fleeting moments of glory, how much more are we willing to sell ourselves?
I would love to see my daughter play sports at the level that I know she is capable of – she has more athleticism in one arm than I have in my entire body. I would enjoy seeing my sons on a football field in their teenage years and competing in the most glorious game ever invented. With another daughter on the way I envision the day that she walks into the room and everyone looks and says, “Hey, that’s Limbo Harding, that girl can play.” If you as a parent are honest you probably have the same thoughts: for you it may be gymnastics, the band, softball, cheerleading, or a myriad of other options.
So what are we willing to pay? I will not discuss the physical price, practice times, etc, but rather I want to look at the souls of our children for a moment. If you desire for your child to be a cheerleader are you willing to let her attend events with others just so she will fit in better with that group? What about your son as a baseball player are you willing to turn a blind eye to the events he attends with his peers because you want him so badly to be successful at baseball? Will we send our kids to movies that we know are harmful to them and damaging to their relationship with Christ, just so they can hang out with their peers at school and not feel left out? Do we desire for our kids to fit in so much that we push them to do things that they normally wouldn’t do so they can be a part of the “in crowd”?
I say we do and at an alarming rate that should cause us to question our own relationship with Christ. There is very little, if any, difference in the movies our kids watch versus the movies that all others watch and we are paying their way. We are encouraging them to attend the functions, school sponsored or not, that turn into a very thinly veiled sex-focused party as is evidenced by the dancing, photos, and other not so easily seen results. We are buying them the same clothes and going into debt at the same rate as our neighbor who cares not one bit for the name of Jesus, because preemptive to our relationship with Christ is this passion we have to make sure our child is part of “the group” and they must have the correct clothing and accessories to fit. We uses phrases such as “boys will be boys” and wink and nod encouraging our sons to be disrespectful towards women and in so doing we teach them to treat women as a sex object. We encourage our daughters to dress “cute” and display their bodies because the latest fashions “fit” that way. We buy them iTunes cards and never, ever ask them what music they are buying because quite honestly we don’t want to know. We put televisions in their rooms, with no restrictions, and then simply roll our eyes when we see them watching pure wickedness.
Parents, we are to be the ones that our kids turn to when something arises that they feel inadequate in handling but sadly many times we are simply turning them back towards their problem with no answers. If our children came to us today and told us that they desired to drop out of whatever sport/club/extra curricular/school activity that they were involved in due to the amount of peer pressure what would our response be? I see three possible scenarios: Quit today – a bitter pill to swallow especially considering the cost that these activities are costing us today, and not a likely option for many parents (quitters…ugh); personal protection – we will attend every single event, practice, and any gathering that our child has to be a part of, actively involving ourselves not through our presence but through our actions (sitting in the stands while your son or daughter is hearing absolute filth on the bench is NOT necessarily being involved) and providing a barrier between our child and their peers; the “Christian” smile and “answer” – “well honey we just have to realize some people are like that and we just don’t have to be that way, now I love you and you just do what you can do”. Out of the three responses number three is probably our most favorite answer and with it we are consigning are kids to the world without a fight at all…because we want them to fit in.
It is no wonder our kids grow up and leave the church and more importantly Jesus at a rate that if not so damning would be laughable. We are selling their souls for the feeling that we get by watching them perform, and hoping one day to hear their name announced as our child. A few months back I read a heart-breaking story of a young skater whose father started him on steroids at the young age of 13 so that he could become a champion skater. Now the father sits in prison and his now 19yo son vacillates between part-time jobs and wonders if there is a future for him. After watching our performances where we sell out our “beliefs” so they can have a few moments of glory, if it ever comes, they are so unimpressed with a belief system that has no true values that they abandon this belief the first moment it contradicts with their feelings and desires.
Now here you may insert that you believe that your child must be able to handle the temptation of the world because such a reality will not simply disappear once the said child becomes an adult. To use a time-honored teenage word, DUH! However there is not a parent around that would hold a match to their child’s arm while they tell them they just want them to experience how hot fire really is. Neither is there a parent who would repetitively throw their child off the roof of their home just so they could better understand the danger of heights. This foolishness of subjecting them to a bad influence to better enable them to make the right decision is a lie straight from the mouth of the father of all lies, Satan. Certainly we can’t shield our children from everything but this thought process that they might as well learn while they are young is absolute foolishness.
So what shall we do? Would you allow your child to stop some function if they honestly told you that if they continued they were convinced that it would have a detrimental effect on their spiritual walk? Would I? Well, my child was not the one who was charged with bringing himself/herself up in the care and instruction of Jesus Christ – I was. Ephesians 6:4 “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
May God have mercy on us and most especially our children. May we look to the Word of God for help in making decisions that will impact the lives of our children for all eternity.