Parents don’t usually intend to lie in this way, but when wrapped up in the everyday issues many parents misrepresent the truth by substituting these common perspectives. You’ll notice that most of these “lies” have an element of truth behind them. Be careful about reading always and never into the truth or the response.
The first 4 lies are addressed in a short but meaningful video by Skye Jethani.
Values should be a part of a child’s development, but following Jesus isn’t about good values. It’s about putting faith in Jesus, even when a child slips in upholding values. Teach your children to have strength in Jesus’ work more than having faith in their own ability to act right. This is what Skye Jethani calls life under God.
2. “If my children get a great education in the Bible they’ll be great Christians.”
Memorize important scripture, learn the Bible stories, develop solid doctrine- Some people see these as the pathway to perfect love for God. They might be good, but they are not a guarantee of holiness. The Pharisees practiced this kind of spiritually, and Jesus wasn’t impressed. Skye Jethani calls this life over God.
3. “If youth group is fun for my kid, then I know they will grow spiritually.”
Fun in church programs isn’t bad, but it becomes bad when it is the means of feeling connected to the church and to God. Skye Jethani says this is the 3rd way that people falsely try to take control of the world, and in doing so try to take control of God. When youth group or church is about fun, we make God into a fun “vender” for our enjoyment.
4. “My kids will be spiritual when they are on mission for God.”
It is good to do the work of God, but doing missional things doesn’t make a person a follower of Christ. Being a Christian is being in communion with Christ. Our mission is an outworking of our love for God, not a means for gaining approval. God loves your child first, before they lift a single finger for his Kingdom.
5. “When my child walks away from their faith, I just need to get them around more Christians and they’ll come back.”
Many children walk away from their faith, and the natural parent reaction is to take control and to try to network the child back into the faith. Christian people are important for reconnecting, but in this way parents often become a nuisance in their child’s life. Allow these relationships to happen by God’s hand. Give that control over to him by praying for your child and constantly being faithful yourself.
6. “I don’t know much about the Bible so I don’t have anything I can teach my children about my faith.”
Your own faith is an important element in the formation of your child’s faith. If you don’t feel knowledgeable, working to improve your knowledge teaches your child a lot about the Christian walk. Passing spiritual development off to a professional also teaches your child something. Unfortunately, that something isn’t good, as they will learn that walking with Christ is something that is dedicated to certain times, certain places, and lead by certain people. Teach your children that Christ can permeate all aspects of life by living your life side-by-side with them.
7. “My compliant child obviously has a stronger spirituality than my spirited child.”
Don’t confuse obedience to you as a measure of maturity. Compliance isn’t a lone measure of spirituality. Do a simple survey of Christian leaders and you’ll find many who are spirited, high-energy, and creative children who didn’t sit still when they were asked as children. Understand that God makes all kinds of personalities, and help your children to grow according to their personality, without applying false expectations.
8. “Tough love is the key to teaching our children to maintain their faith.”
God’s way is grace. There may be times that we have to allow children to feel the full consequences of their choices, but parenting should be grace-filled as much as possible.
9. “I sent my children to Christian school/home school so that they won’t be exposed to issues of the world.”
Parents cannot shield children from the world. Wherever people are, children will be exposed to worldly choices. Christian schools and home schooling have different worldly influences, but either way, children will be exposed to the breadth of possibilities sometime in their lives. This isn’t to say that secular schools are better. In fact, children are likely influenced earlier and more often by non-Christian values in secular schools, but given the right guidance, these children can grow in a unique way that children who are educated in uniquely Christian cultures sometimes miss.
10. “I’m not important for the development of my children.”
You, mom and dad, are important. Your children see you. They see your morality. They see your faith. Your attempts to grow in your faith influence your child. Living faith each day before your kids helps them to learn to do the same. Forgiving your children when necessary helps them to realize God’s forgiveness. Accepting God’s love for your wrongdoings helps kids to be confident in God’s grace. You bless your kids each day. There’s no reason to be proud of this fact, but realize that God has given you a unique role in the lives of your children.
Parenting is difficult work. It isn’t something that should be done in isolation. At Etchea Coaching, we believe the best parents are those connected to strong churches that know how to connect them to people and resources that can help. We offer training and coaching to help parents and church leaders.