God can turn foes into friends when he pleases. He that has all hearts in his hand has access to men’s spirits and power over them, working insensibly, but irresistibly upon them, can make a man’s enemies to be at peace with him, can change their minds, or force them into a feigned submission. He can slay all enemies, and bring those together that were at the greatest distance from each other.
Did you know that if you’re a parent, you can decide who your children are friends with? This plan doesn’t work entirely if you start trying to do this when they are teenagers; but there is some merit to the idea. When your children are little, you are the one that decides who they spend time with and how much time they spend with everyone. Use the opportunity when they’re young to begin doing the little things, and planning for the pre-teen and teenage years.
Screen their friends. It’s simple really. Encourage quality time with those people you want them to be around, and limit the time with those less positive influences. Just don’t become judgemental and separatist in your behavior.
Awareness. Become aware of who they are spending time around and become involved in their social life when the opportunities are there. Regular conversation with the
School. Be involved in the social parts of school life. Friendships at school are totally different than church friendships, and can quickly become a loud voice in your kids life.
Be Smart. Specifically in regards to smart phones. A parent who doesn’t know their kid’s FaceBook password is a parent who doesn’t know the company their kids keep.
Make yourself friendly. Make it a goal of yours to become friends with the friends of your kids. Volunteer to drive kids to events, host get-togethers at your house, and do whatever it takes to responsibly become a part of the lives of the kids around your children.
I Corinthians 15:33 “Bad company corrupts good character.”
I’ve had some limited experience meeting with newlyweds over the years. You know these couples, right? They love their soon-to-be husband or wife, and as I begin to sit down and talk with them I discover that their expectations of marriage are wildly different for marriage. He thinks that it’s going to be great to start a family soon, and she is excited to finish her 2nd graduate degree before maybe having kids. As the counselor, it’s my goal to help them set realistic and right expectations for each other. As the married man, it just seems to obvious.
Yet as a father, I’m more than guilty of holding inappropriate expectations for my own kids every day. I expect math to be easy for them, because it was easy for me. I expect them to love baseball, but they just want to wear the hats and drink Capri suns afterwards. When they’re young, it starts so innocently. Then they become teenagers one day, and I then hold the potential for my bad expectations of them to keep them from what they could become. I expect greatness to look like one thing, and I discover later on that greatness was there all along.
If your children regularly fail to measure up to your standards, you might be expecting too much.
Then there is the nasty flip side of expectations. Some parents expect almost nothing from their kids. In such settings, children can lose energy or passion because they are never helped to reach forward to those things which are ahead (Phil 3:13). In other homes too much is expected. Experience teaches that unreasonable expectations are the ideal breeding ground for discouragement.
As parents let us be guilty of encouragement, and let us be convicted when our expectations get in the way of who these wonderful children are becoming each day.
My kids live in a mistake filled world, and if I’m not careful they could drown in enough mistakes that they can’t tell right from wrong over time. As their parent, it becomes my mission then to adjust the error in a biology teachers opinion about when life begins, correct the low expectations of what their friend says are good qualities in a girlfriend, and showing grace to a neighbor confused about what makes them valuable.
When the people in their schools and the kids in our neighborhood begin to interpret life in ways that are not God-centered, I then have to spot the mistake and correct them. This isn’t about standing on soapboxes and shouting the truth to a random passersby. This isn’t an advocacy for more Christian schools or more church services.
This is me suggesting that we could engage our world in a way that helps our kids begin to define the mistakes all around them, because eventually they’re going to have to do this on their own. The key lays in getting your kids to open up and tell you much of what’s happening in their own lives.
Here are some things we’ve done in our home to try and “Spot the Mistakes”
- Find the times to talk. There are times where we can get our kids to share about school, and neighborhood things. There are also times that don’t work. Find what they are for your kids and then bounce down to this next tip…
- Ask some questions. Real live questions like: “What were you talking about with them?” I’d suggest you don’t wait til you have teenagers before trying this method. It has to be a question that you sincerely care about the answer, and not an answer you’ll use to later punish them.
- Don’t act shocked. Your kids will say some things that are crazy. I’m talking crazy on both sides of right and wrong. If you learn to stay calm and listen, I guarantee you that you will eventually have the opportunity to speak truth towards something less than crazy.
- Know your stuff. Don’t just get good at finding the mistakes, get good as bringing wisdom when it’s needed. Becoming wise, begins with knowing Christ and the ways of the wise. Could I make a parenting suggestion? Read Proverbs. Read it every day. Read it with your kids. Make wisdom like a brother and sister
1 Timothy 1:5-11 // The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love, love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence.
It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I ve been put in charge of by this great God.
In a book I’ve read many times, Parenting Beyond your Capacity, the authors talk about our tendency to treat God like we do the fine china. We only get it down for special occasions. In many of our “Christian” homes, Christ is simply not the most important thing happening. I have often times unintentionally put the emphasis on my childrens behavior to “get what they deserve” instead of using their behavior as yet another excuse to point them to Jesus.
Remember the old hymn? My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. There isn’t any way my kids are going to hear that hymn on any of our music players, but I want them to hear modern version of it in the way I lead them as their parent.
- It’s reminding them they need His forgiveness more than they need my forgiveness.
- It’s how I treat them as their father, knowing that I’m the first impression of God as father they will have.
- It’s not letting my problems with their behavior affect our relationship.
- It’s using their mistakes as the opportunity to talk about my own mistakes, and how Jesus saves from having to be perfect.
When I make Christ the most important, then I explain to my kids at every turn how they can see Jesus. Yes, I want them to obey, but I also want them to bring their problems to the one that asked for them…Jesus. I don’t want to create a home that makes it harder for my kids to find Jesus than he already is outside of my home.
Matthew 11:29-30 Come to me. Get away with me and you ll recover your life. I ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with meâ€”watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you ll learn to live freely and lightly.