As parents, we are the gatekeepers of the home. We control what goes in and what comes out. We dictate relationships, attitudes, conversations, rules, and matters of faith.
This is not a back-to-school debate about which type of schooling is best for our children. No matter where we send them, even if we keep them home, they are faced with things of the world every second of every day. We cannot hide from the enemy's ploys to get his hands on the hearts of our children.
Satan will even cunningly deceive parents to achieve his goals.
For the last few months, as my daughter has been working at her first job, she has come home with plenty of stories that leave my eyes wide with shock. Unfortunately, the ways of the world are not new to me, and they are not new to her. We have never sheltered our kids within our home. We are a family of open conversation and constantly doing the best we can to prepare them for life.
As parents, we have always felt it best to prepare them by not covering their eyes from the worst. Don’t mistake what I am saying; I do not deliberately put the world in front of my child’s face, but I do not hide it from her either. What’s out there for our children is a mess, and if we don’t prepare them correctly, we will feed them directly into the mouths of lions.
We are up against a great onslaught of influences in our children’s lives.
School, work, friends, tv, social media, Youtube, news, family members, doctors, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, pastors. The list could take up the entirety of this article, but the smallest number listed are within the church.
So the question is, are we throwing our children to the lions?
As parents, we are the gatekeepers of the home. We control what goes in and what comes out. We dictate relationships, attitudes, conversations, rules, and matters of faith. It is a big task we are undertaking as gatekeepers, but there is no other job of more importance than this.
Are you keeping the gate closed to the lions that hunt?
As much as we may think it is harmless or nothing worse than we faced as kids, we deceive ourselves. Our kids are up against a great deal more than we ever were. The influence is more powerful.
I have witnessed it firsthand working with youth girls for so many years. My choices, influences, and destructive behavior as a teen pale in comparison to what is happening online, in schools, and in the world today in front of our children.
So, where do we go from here? How do we protect them in the lion’s den without sheltering them completely and never letting them see the light of day? How do we shape our children rightly and prepare them for what we know they will face?
1. Be Vigilant
As parents, we can be distracted by work, our phones, and endless tasks so much so that we are not paying attention to the little things. Maybe there are warning signs, a plea for attention, or attitudes that have suddenly become the norm. Your child could be becoming more secretive, wrapped up in a device every chance they get, or even failing grades in school. All of these and more mark a need in your child, and often they are a cry for help. Don’t brush it off as a passing phase and don’t excuse it away, but pay attention and have conversations when they are needed.
2. Talk About It
When we are vigilant, we will be forced into tough conversations with our kids. We should be having these conversations regularly. Whenever we see something wrong or inappropriate, we will talk about it. Don’t turn a blind eye. Don’t pretend it isn’t there because it will be there waiting for them when they grow up and leave your home or when they head out the door for school. Having honest conversations helps them engage with a culture that is overwhelming most days. It’s more than telling little Suzy that it is wrong; instead, explain it, dig into it, go to the Scriptures, and be honest. If you do not have an answer to the problem your child is facing, it’s ok to say you don’t know and reach out to a trusted friend for help.
3. Encourage Boundaries
This may be one of the hardest areas to navigate, especially when dealing with a teen. Boundary-setting is important and can be a tool they use their whole lives. Each child may have different boundaries, but this may look like saying no to sports that interfere with church, saying no to extracurricular activities that have had a negative influence on your child, setting device limits, and blocking adult content. There are many other boundaries you can set; this is healthy for the whole family. We need boundaries to thrive and function in life. Don’t just set boundaries for your child, but lead by example.
4. Say No
It is okay to say no to things. In fact, it might be the most beneficial choice we can make as parents. Our children are growing up in an instant gratification culture, where we get what we want, and we can get it instantly. It conditions the heart to believe that this is how everything works, and “no” becomes a very limited part of our vocabulary. Our kids need this word in their lives; they need to learn that saying “yes” to everything isn’t a good thing. They need to see your example. If your priorities put everything before God or church, they will follow suit. Say “no” to long hours on devices, distractions, or things that interfere with family time. Teach your children to say “no” to toxic friendships and “no” to bad influences.
This may seem simple, but we must be parents who are slow to speak. Our children may say things we don’t want to hear, but we must make eye contact and listen to every word. When our children feel heard, they will come back again and again and bear their hearts. There is a time to chime in with answers and advice, but it is crucial that we listen to every word before we do.
Daniel, when faced with death in the lion’s den, did not fear because he knew God was with him. God will sustain our kids no matter what they face. Daniel didn’t wait until he was in the den of the lions to call on God; it is what put him there in the first place. Following God does not ensure that the lions won’t surround us, but it will equip us to face the den with peace. This is the lesson we need. We can do all of the right things as parents, but if we are not encouraging a life changed by the gospel in our children, then we are doing it all in vain.
No matter where your kids go this fall, whether public school, private school, homeschool, college, jobs, or out with friends, remember the lion’s den they are headed into. Prepare them for what they will face, listen to them, encourage them to create boundaries, and most importantly, pray for them and point them to the gospel.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Raung Binaia
Michelle Rabon is a wife and homeschooling mom of three who feels called to help women thrive in their walk with Jesus every day. In 2012, she started Displaying Grace, a ministry that is focused on helping women engage with God’s Word. Michelle has also served in women’s ministry for the past five years seeking to equip women in the local church through Bible study. When she is not writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, being close to the ocean, and drinking a lot of coffee.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
You can read Rhonda's full article here!