kiddos and Christianity

Raising kids isn't easy, especially if you're a Christian. Sometimes it's even harder.

What's perhaps the greatest challenge is your ability to raise your kids to have their own relationships with God is greatly influenced by the connection you have with Him yourself. If you're playing games with this or presuming that checking into church for major holidays is enough, then it's time to recognize you're sending a hypocritical message out they'll one day call you out on.

On the other hand, maybe you're doing your best and are the real deal. Even then the world will critique you for seeming conservative. Who cares? Its criticism or disagreement doesn't negate your freedom to instill the values that matter most. The end goal is to provide your children with the tools they need to have their own walk with God.

One approach is to use a combination of the Ten Commandments as a template to develop your own family values.
  • Respect God: The first three of the Ten Commandments deal with respect for God and what it means to put him first in all things. This might inspire rules for your home including starting your day in prayer together as a family or filtering major decisions through biblical values before making them. Fold this into your entertainment, too - maybe it's time to ditch television shows that regularly take God's name in vain or listen music that has a great beat but is full of lyrics that contradict Godly virtues.

  • Keep the Sabbath Holy: The Sabbath is more about restoration than rest. Many Christian families interpret this to mean they should participate in church-related activities at every opportunity, including Sunday school, a morning service and an evening gathering. Other households take it a step further and refrain from certain activities such as shopping or eating out on the Sabbath. Whatever your values end up being, it's not to put a check-mark in your week but to engage in something truly relational and holy with God. Take the day off and power down your cellphone so you can better spend time with His people and restore them back to Him.

  • Honor One Another: The Bible mentions that children are to honor their parents, but also that mothers and fathers need to honor their children as they parent. This doesn't diminish the authority you exercise over your kids; however, you need to demonstrate that authority in the context of grace, love and respect. If taken to an extreme, children might feel as though they don't have the freedom to share their thoughts and feelings.

    More realistic values might include not permitting your children to yell, hit, kick or insult one another. You might also require that when speaking to you and their other parent, your children immediately respond with "Yes sir" or "Yes ma'am." These simple rules may seem conservative, but they'll do just that - conserve what it means to help everyone feel more respected.

  • Love People and Use Things: Another three of the Ten Commandments deal with wanting things that don't belong to you, be it vengeance or an object. Simply expressed, we're to love people and use things instead of loving things and using people. To instill this in your children, make it a rule that if anyone in your home wants to use something that belongs to someone else, he must honor that person asking for permission first. Likewise, help them to see that the friendships in their lives need to be less about getting what we want from people and more about being good friends to them.

  • Speak the Truth: Do whatever you can to avoid lying - it creates a home of people who can't trust each other. Jesus taught that our "Yes" should mean yes and our "No" should mean no. That can't happen in your household unless everyone agrees that you will gracefully speak truth to each other, even if it's difficult. Make it clear to your children that no one is allowed to lie -- and that includes you. Even when it's to avoid something uncomfortable, such as expecting another person to say that someone isn't home (in order for that person to dodge a call). 
One last thought... sometimes people say the only real way to help kids learn about God is to tell them nothing. What's ironic is the same people teach their kids the Alphabet, help them with math, and work on their Social Studies report on George Washington. The value to sharing spiritual values is the same - offer your kids a direction based on your best understanding of truth, and give them space to wrestle with it as the years go by.
Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, The Message)

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