Friday, November 22, 2013

Keeping Our Kids Christian

          Nothing helps foster humility like parenthood.  New furniture may come out of the box from Ikea with a set of assembly instructions for clueless people like myself, but children do not come out of their mommy with a set of instructions.  Too bad.  Because sooner rather than later, all parents pull their hair in frustration or wring their hands with worry as they struggle to raise their children and keep them happy and safe.  The unmarried and childless are often filled with wisdom and dispense confident advice about how to raise children, but actual parents soon discover that they have no real clue what they are doing.  All of us parents are winging it, even if we have to hide this embarrassing fact from our children and give them the impression that we always know what to do, and are never frightened or at a loss.  Like I said:  parenthood fosters humility.
            The world in which children are raised is a scary one, and dangerous.  It is not just a matter of teaching children to stay away from stove when mommy is cooking or not to talk to strangers.  The world is filled with more subtle perils, things which can not only take away one’s health or life, but can also take away one’s soul.  And these perils do not advertise themselves as perilous.  They are usually wrapped in bright paper and shiny bows and advertised as indescribably wonderful by the media, but they are spiritually poisonous nonetheless.  We cannot protect our children by shielding them from such dangers, locking them up in tall towers or hauling them off to live in monasteries at the age of six.  What then can we do to protect them from harm, to help them grow up to know and love Jesus with all their hearts, and to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness?  How can we keep them on the path that leads to God?

            There are, of course, no guarantees, and anyone who says differently is trying to sell you something.  We can do everything within our power and pray our little parental hearts out, only to discover at the end of it that our children possess the same free will that we do, and can still decide go their own way after all.  It is, I suspect, the most heart-breaking thing there is.  God understands this pain.  We all are His children, and we have been going our own way for some time now.  We can only do what we can do.  The question is:  what can we do?  How can we keep our kids Christian?  I suggest eight things.

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