As we are beginning Kyler’s senior year in high shool today (remarkable calm this morning by the way- sometimes the Holy Spirit acts as Valium) I have been thinking about all the ways we work to provide for our children while they are under our care. There are countless tasks to nurture and love and raise children. Yet for me, there have been times I realize I have forgotten that my job as a mother in the first 18 years of my child’s life is that of a steward. God has entrusted me to care for this child, but not possess them. The goal is to raise them and then launch them into adulthood. In other words, a huge important part of what I need to do, is get them ready to survive and thrive without me!
So, in light of that goal, I am offering my suggestions of important areas to train your children in, prior to launcching them from your lovely nest.
1. Teach them the gospel- as it applies personally to them. Often christian parents do not share the full gospel with their own children because they forget- my child cannot be saved by simply being around church or me. They are a sinner in need of a savior as much as we are! Your child needs to understand, they are seperated from God because of their sin, and God loves them so much He sent Jesus to die for them! But they must personally choose to place their own faith in Jesus’ death in their place.
2. They need to know how to handle and resolve conflict. Often, as adults, we are still working through our own fears of conflict so we neglect to teach our children healthy ways to confront sin, talk about hurts or resolve differences. We begin by modeling healthy skills to them in our marriages or other adult relationships. But also, by showing them it is ok to express their feelings and disagree.
3. They need to know how to take responsibility for themselves. This includes waking themselves up, arriving on time, making conversation with others, saying I’m sorry when they fail, getting and keeping a job, “showing up” for family and close friends and setting boundaries. In an era when many parents want so badly to shield their children from pain, it’s important to remember that it’s okay for kids to face some stress as they learn responsibility and those consequences will save them a world of pain later.
4. Teach them how to balance their checkbook, pay bills and budget. Teach them why credit cards are dangerous. Teach them why we tithe and how to save. In other words, give them some tools for managing money. The bible has so much to say about money for a reason- it is a powerful temptation to place it as the god in our life, and yet has just as much potential to be a tool used for good.
5. Help your kids identify their God given ‘bent” that can give them direction in choosing a future career, college and life goals. Kids don’t all come out driven and self-aware. Some kids come out of the womb declaring a future occupation it seems, while others shrug their shoulders and give the classic “idunno” when asked what they want to be “when they grow up” well into their high school years. One great blessing you can give your children in helping them understand their personality, strengths and weaknesses, so they can make a wise choice.
6. Teach them about sex. Not the “awkward, let’s read a book and pretend not to be embarrassed” talk, but conversations about the beautiful purpose and gift of sex. And how it is sacred and it can be the ultimate expression of love, but when experienced out of the context of marriage, is always destructive and can be completely devastating. Give them the facts of course, but the facts alone aren’t enough to prepare them to deal with such a powerful force.
I’m assuming you have already covered hygiene, education, living in a community of faith, college football (ok, maybe that’s just us), doing laundry, nutrition, dating and marriage, 80’s rock and the joy of eating Indian food (wait- just us again?) and for the love of all that’s good, let’s agree collectively to teach our kids that 7 forms of social media is probably enough so we can all quit having to spend so much time monitoring tweets!