If we’re going to parent well, we need to actively prepare our kids for the dangers of the world. But the timing of that preparation may be the difference between life and death. Join AMBrewster as he helps Christian Parents discover the best time to prepare their kids for the “real world.”
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Okay, let’s talk about the best time to prepare our kids for “the real world.”
Today’s episode is going to be on the simple side because our topic is not how to prepare our kids, but when to prepare our kids.
But first we have to be honest about our family schedules. You may be very different from the average family out there, and if you are — just hang on with me for a minute while I address the rest of us.
We are too stinking busy.
We’re doing too much.
The world and the flesh have convinced us that we have to be involved in everything at school and take our work home with us and keep up on all the hit shows and get involved in club sports and music lessons and participate in every ministry and own every pet and the list goes on.
And when the day or week or month is done, when we look back, we’re accomplishing a lot of things . . . but we haven’t matured through the process. In fact, we’re more tired and cranky and our relationships are more strained and brittle than before.
This really is a separate topic, but it affects what we’re discussing today. We are simply doing too much.
Since my family and I moved to North Carolina, we’ve been working to discover our new normal. It’s an exciting time in many ways because we get to choose what we do. So, our normal daily schedule is that all 4 of us are working during the same hours of the day. I wake earlier than everyone else does, and when the rest of the family is up, we dive into lessons. The kids do a lot of it on their own while my wife and I work on our respective responsibilities, and when the kids need focussed time from us, we immediately stop what we’re doing and help them with their work.
This plan is very important to us because it usually means that when the kids are done with their lessons for the day, it won’t be too long before mom and dad have finished up their responsibilities as well. And then we can all enter the late-afternoon/evening together.
And that sounds like an amazing plan! Of course, there are still chores and meals and the other mandatory things of the day. Everyone has their devotions. In the evenings, we read a chapter of a book together as a family. We all take care of the animals. And there are often outside requirements. Perhaps there’s a church service or Game Nights on Monday when a bunch of people come to the house. And then there’s the occasional youth group activity and emergency situation and unplanned opportunity to minister to someone. And — of course — there’s all the fire-fighter parenting that happens as we deal with issues that come up during all of these activities.
And after the busyness and stress of the week, there’s the communal desire to just sit around on our butts and do nothing profitable at all. And our kids aren’t even on a team or investing in their music the way we’d like! They’re not really spending any time at friends’ houses. Neither of my kids have any type of job of which to speak.
And our schedule may sound like a dream compared to some of yours.
So, what’s my point?
The point is that later this summer my son is going off to camp for a week. He’s done this one other time a few years ago. The camp was 30 minutes away, my wife picked him up and dropped him off, and actually visited him a couple times during the week. And he was about 10.
Now, he’ll be thirteen, traveling all the way to New England with our Youth Group and sponsors, be gone for the week, and travel back. So, here’s the question: is he ready?
And I can hear your wise answer . . . “I don’t know!” But neither do I.
He’s never experienced something like that before.
So, the question is . . . when do I prepare him?
I’m not even asking the harder question . . . how do I prepare him? I just want to know when I can schedule in the opportunity to even think about it with him!
You see, as parents, we get used to the fire-fighting sort of parenting to such a degree that we assume that’s just how it has to be. And — to a certain degree — we’re not God, so we’ll always have that dynamic at play in our parenting.
“What’s fire-fighting parenting?” you ask. Imagine a warehouse section of your city. Inside each of those buildings are fire hazards galore. And in that part of the city is a secret guild of anarchist arsons.
The fire-fighters in that city will spend all their time putting out industrial fires. There’s nothing else they can do. They don’t own the buildings, they’re not the police, their job is to extinguish fires that explode without a moment’s notice.
Now, let’s compare that to our parenting. Your children are the warehouses — born with a sin nature that is constantly lusting for their own pleasure. It’s a powder keg of destruction. And then Satan and the world are on a perpetual quest — like the arsons — to burn your kids’ lives to the ground.
And all we parents feel like we can do is share fire-safety tips a few times a week like a weary fire-fighter at a school where none of the students are really listening, and then wait for something to go wrong so we can be there as quickly as possible to minimize the damage. There’s going to be damage, we just hope we’re close enough to take the edge off before something really bad happens.
But imagine if we weren’t just fire-fighters. Imagine if we also managed the property. Imagine if we were able to secure it from negative influences.
We need to understand that — as parents — that’s our God-given responsibility too. Wouldn’t it be far better to invest our day emptying the warehouses of their toxic waste and flammable chemicals while we set up defenses in their lives to protect them from dangerous influences? That way, there would be far fewer fires that need extinguishing. There would be less loss. There would be more blessing!
What I’ve described is basically Proverbs 1:8-19, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction And do not forsake your mother’s teaching; Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head And ornaments about your neck. My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. If they say, 'Come with us, Let us lie in wait for blood, Let us ambush the innocent without cause; Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, Even whole, as those who go down to the pit; We will find all kinds of precious wealth, We will fill our houses with spoil; Throw in your lot with us, We shall all have one purse,’ My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path, For their feet run to evil And they hasten to shed blood. Indeed, it is useless to spread the baited net In the sight of any bird; But they lie in wait for their own blood; They ambush their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence; It takes away the life of its possessors.”
Solomon took the time to prepare his son before he encountered his first blood-lusting, innocent-ambushing, treasure-stealing lowlifes.
The following verses then describe how wisdom is being proactive. She’s going out where everyone will see her, shouting loudly enough for everyone to hear, using language everyone will understand, targeting those who need her most, and inviting them to join her.
She’s not waiting. In fact, she warns that if the guidance is spurned and a fire sweeps through their warehouse, it will be too late.
She says, “Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the Lord. They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof. So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way And be satiated with their own devices. For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them. But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”
Now, I’m not saying that we parents should throw our hands up and walk away when our kids get themselves into trouble. This woman being personified in this passage is wisdom, and we know from the “Teach Your Children to Learn” series that wisdom is taking what we know to be right and applying it to our lives. If someone rejects Truth and refuses to apply it to their lives, when they’ve finally set their lives on fire, it will be too late to live wisely. They will have no habits formed. Once their lives have been razed, they’ll have to start at ground zero. They’ll need to renew their minds, put off the sins of the flesh, and put on the fruit of the spirit.
My point is simply that it’s too late to teach your kids about sex until they’ve already done it or in the midst of daily temptation. Now, if you’ve neglected, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do what you can now . . . but — in a best case scenario — you need to start sooner.
And that’s the point of this episode. The best time to prepare your kids to do anything is before they have to do it.
We recently conducted our longest series which was a study in parenting angry children. And on many of the points, I observed that the best time to parent a violent, slanderous, clamorous, angry child is before they’re being violent, slanderous, clamorous, or angry.
Every business know this. This is why they have employee training. This is the point of school. This is why driver’s ed exists.
And yet too many of us think that attending Sunday school and maybe one other service during the week is going to prepare our kids to stand against evil and live holy lives.
“But my kids do their devotions every day!”
That’s great, they’re hopefully absorbing Truth, but who’s going to teach them how to apply that Truth? It’s great to know that “the lips of an adulteress drip honey And smoother than oil is her speech; But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, Her steps take hold of Sheol. She does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable, she does not know it.” It’s good to know that I should “keep your way far from her And do not go near the door of her house, Or you will give your vigor to others And your years to the cruel one; And strangers will be filled with your strength And your hard-earned goods will go to the house of an alien; And you groan at your final end, When your flesh and your body are consumed.”
But what does that really, practically, relevantly look like? It takes discernment and wisdom and logic and maturity to help our kids apply the Truth to their daily experience. In fact, the passage I’ve been quoting from Proverbs 5 goes on to explain why the young man failed. You see, the young man had been taught. He had people in his life helping him live a life that glorified God, and yet he chose to do his own thing.
How do we know? Listen to verses 12-14, “And you say, ‘How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! have not listened to the voice of my teachers, Nor inclined my ear to my instructors! I was almost in utter ruin In the midst of the assembly and congregation.”
This young man had people — teachers, instructors, a whole assembly and congregation — investing heavily in him so that they wouldn’t have to put out a fire in the future.
But when does that happen?
Normally the teachers and counselors get involved after the girl is already pregnant.
We need to do as Solomon did. We need to prepare our kids for what’s coming before it comes. We need to do what Deuteronomy 6:7-9 says by walking and talking the Truth with our kids all day long: “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” We need to bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4).
So, back to my opening illustration.
When am I going to prepare my son for the unique temptations that are going to arise in him and come at him from the outside when he’s at camp this summer? When am I going to take the time to even think about what those temptations might be or how I need to equip him to overcome them? When am I going to take the time to even know the best way to put out any fires that may arise?
Let’s be honest, we too often don’t even fire-fight well.
Am I going to work less, homeschool less, chore less, sports less, entertainment less?
And this is just one child with one specific situation in mind. I have two kids with very different temptations in their warehouses and arsons in their neighborhoods. Some of you have three or four or twelve kids.
Now, to be fair, many of us have our kids in Sunday school and the morning and evening services and youth group because we understand how important it is for our families to go to church. Perhaps many of you do encourage your children in personal devotions and have a family Bible time most days of the week. I’m sure many of you regularly pray for your kids and mediate on how you can best rear them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
That is wonderful! And that’s a great start!
“A great start?” some of you ask. Yeah, it’s a start. If we’re not at least doing those things . . . we’re missing the basics. Church, personal study, family study, and prayer are the fundamentals of a healthy Christ-honoring family.
One thing I want to start doing better is getting with each of my kids on a one-on-one basis. I do it fairly well on an in-home basis, but I want to be more premeditated by getting away with them and intentionally preparing to love on them and speak Truth into their lives.
Jerrad Lopes, from Dad Tired, takes his kids out for a special daddy time once a month. He schedules it like this. Since my son was born on the 17th of the month, then on the 17th of every month I would invest extra time in just him.
It’s a good start.
But I believe there’s more I can do, and it’s going to start with me intentionally and premeditatedly reevaluating my family schedule. It’s going to include me putting time in to know my kids and their potential struggles so I can prepare them before they’re in the middle of the temptation. It’s going to involve me knowing what Satan and the world are trying to cram down my kids’ throats on a daily basis so I can equip them for that as well.
Basically, I need to take another step in becoming an intentional, premeditated, disciple-making Ambassador Parent.
I need to invest more time in teaching, interpreting, counseling, and training my kids. And I hope you’ll rededicate to the same goals with me.
And share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so other parents can start preparing their kids before they burn to the ground. Let’s be better preventative parents instead of emergency parents.
However, if you are in a fire-fighting, emergency situation in your family and need special help, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
Remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love. But if we don’t intentionally and premeditatedly carve out the time . . . it probably won’t happen.
To that end, join us next time as we discuss “Parenting Strategies You Need in Your Home.”
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