Throughout your child’s life you will need to have plenty of important conversations: sex, purity, money, friend choices, responsibilities, identity, anxiety, body image, social media, dating, marriage, fighting, alcohol, hard work. You get it.
We must never forget the even more important conversations: the gospel, reading the Bible, daily prayer, family devotions, sharing the gospel, importance of church membership.
It seems that often these conversations can be harder when we are merely living from one “big” conversation to the next. While in between each big conversation is nearly little-to-no daily meaningful conversation about life and godliness. About fears and hopes. About trials and celebrations.
Small Deposits over Big Talks
When there is not a daily culture of encouraging and welcomed meaningful conversation in the home between kid and parent, then we should not be surprised when our child wanders off into troubling sin.
If we are not careful, we can wait till our child has fallen into an error, and only then gather them to the table to have a “big talk.” Don’t mishear me. Big talks are needed. However, this should not be the steady diet of parental instruction. When it is, our parenting becomes consistently reactionary rather than intentionally proactive.
I want to encourage parents to prioritize the home around daily small deposits of conversion on all matters pertaining to life and godliness.
God’s Word speaks to this.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Eph. 6:4
To “bring them up” in the instruction of the Lord means an on-going, daily deposit of instruction to your children about how to love Jesus and live like him. This means we don’t just wait for the monthly “blow up.”
We are called to the be on the frontlines of instruction in all major cultural and biblical issues for our kids, not the 7th grade boy at the lunch table.
“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” –Deut. 11:18-19
God’s Word shows that parents are to engage with their kids daily about the words of the Lord. The smaller, daily deposits of conversations create an encouraging culture in the home where the child knows there is not one question they cannot ask mom or dad.
Set the Tone of Communication
As parents, we must communicate with our children that we love their questions and we love to talk with them about challenging and meaningful things. We must communicate and set the example of being encouraging and gracious to our children when they come to us and ask: why should even believe the Bible? Or when they gather the courage to confess, “I’ve been lying to you.”
We seem to all love the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), until it’s our own son walking home in shame, preparing his speech for us.
While we are serious on God’s Word and serious about discipline (Eph 6:4) we must in not in any way demonstrate unkindness or disrespect to our children. We must not provoke anger, degrade their character, assume the worst, or embarrass them in front of others. This is the fast track to destroying communication in the home and create a quiet climate where children live in fear to talk. This will lead to a home of hidden sin that kids do not want to bring to the light.
Rather, within a loving home where conversion is on-going, respectful, and encouraging, the child and teenager knows that any question, any fear, any struggle is welcome around our table. They know internally that their parents will welcome any question with great joy.
As parents, we need to see the amazing grace of God that our children would trust us with a big faith question they are wrestling with or confess sin to us. This not the time for you to be bothered, but praise God that they would come to you. Then by God’s grace you are given a chance to start the conversation, and work through it together day-after-day.
Parent for Eternity
We are playing the long game. We are parenting for our kids to be Christ-following adults. Our kids are not our own. They belong to God. We are stewarding them for the small amount of years we have with them, to point them daily to the grace that is found in Christ alone. Point them to the one who has lived perfectly in their place. Point them to the one who can heal their brokenness and redeem their story to use for God’s glory.
Our job is to live closely to the grace of Jesus ourselves, so that it will spill over onto our children. We need the grace of Jesus daily for our failures just as much as they do. We need to see that we are more like our kids than unlike them.
One More Thing: Join us for our Marriage Conference
A climate of conversion will only take place in the home if it is the climate of the marriage. Our marriages must be defined by on-going, daily deposits of conversion that involve more than just finances, sports, movies, and gossip from work. We must be engaging our spouse intentionally and daily about all things pertaining to life and godliness.
To help strengthen this climate in our marriage, join us February 28-29 for our marriage conference: Marriage Up Close and Personal. We all need our marriages strengthened in this way. I hope you will join us.
Look to Jesus. Press on in the fight.
· Parenting by Paul David Tripp
· Parenting with Words of Grace by William P. Smith
· The Faithful Parent by Martha Peace, Stuart Scott
· How and When to Tell your Kids about Sex by Sam and Brenna Jones