Pitfalls in Parenting

By Pastor Nate Powell

At ACC, we love kids and families. That was apparent in the previous week of VBS, and it is apparent in all that we do to invest in our kids and students. But as a guy who has been at this parenting business for more than 23 years, I’m reminded everyday that parenting is a hard business, especially if you are seeking to raise your children to love, follow & serve Jesus. And that is exactly what we are called to do.

Parents, let’s be clear about our biblical calling as parents:

  • Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Prov 22:6)
  • Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
  • And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
  • Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. (Proverbs 29:17)

So, understand that in the raising of your children, they are not neutral parties to be raised in some neutral way. We, as disciples of Christ, are to guide the to walk with and in Jesus. We are to guide them to follow the Lord’s commands. And we do so because children are a blessing from the Lord. As the Psalmist writes: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3-5)

As I said, we are to raise our children in the Lord. But that task seems to be growing ever more challenging, especially over the course of more than 2 decades of parenting. As I look at the landscapes that have changed drastically during my own time as a parent, I see four big challenges in the lives of every parent/child relationship, challenges that parents need to help students navigate.

Smart Phones/Tech: Many of us growing up had no TV in our rooms, let alone a gaming system, an unlimited video library, a phone or even a carrier pigeon. Yet, all of these things are combined in the Smartphone & other tech advances that we’ve seen in the past few years. While (like most things) these can be real blessings, they can also be real distractions. More and more, I see teens in a room full of people, isolated on their screens. This is monopolizing their time, pulling them away from relationships with people around them, and if left unchecked, will make them both unfruitful and unproductive. I was visiting with an educator recently, who reminded me that parents forget the power they have in both giving and taking away the rights of the smartphone. There are many parents who are unwilling to take away the cell phone from their kids for fear of appearing unloving to their child. There is a lot of power and authority that you have in both giving and taking away the privilege of the phone and other tech. Pro tip: Use device leverage to your maximum advantage. Give & take away the phone to promote the activity and attitude you want in your kid/teen.

Social Media & Internet: Until the last 20+ years, nobody had to deal with the pitfalls of the internet or social media. It has come with tons of blessings, but perhaps even more negatives. The reason is because for every positive we get from the internet (education/research, quick communication with friends around the world), there are more negatives (porn, toxic influences). Learning to limit the negative flow of content into our lives is very key, and our kids definitely need guidance on how to use these tools wisely. Knowing what I know now, I recommend keeping your kids off of social media as long as you can, and certainly not allowing them to open accounts before they are 13. It is good to not allow students to use the internet unsupervised or unfiltered. No devices in the Christian house should be off-limits for accountability from a parent. Pro tip: Set up your internet router with software like Circle, which can filter bad content, and can allow parents to turn on/turn off different social network access points.

Sexuality & Indoctrination: On every corner these days, we see the LGBT Agenda getting pushed, as well as an attitude that (for years) has pressed our kids into sexual activity and identity questions at ages that are younger and younger. This is why we see schools, libraries, and all kinds of kids TV being targeted to indoctrinate kids to the sexual agendas of those who would seek to convert them. The Bible is not silent on this stuff (Romans 1:16-32 & 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 for starters), and neither should parents be. We must be informed, and we must be open with our children about what the scriptures say. We must not just have “a talk” about sex, but many, age-appropriate talks to answer questions about gender & sexuality with our kids/teens. Pro tip: Educate yourself on what the Bible says & what Christians believe so you can have a ready answer when it comes to talking to your kids about such things. Walt Mueller & the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding have put together and excellent handout on “God’s Plan for Sex & Gender”. You can download the PDF by clicking here.

Schedules & Busyness: The final challenge I’ve seen in my days as a parent is one that I saw when I lived in Indiana when I started in youth ministry, and it worked its way here to Nebraska. It is the rise of club sports & year-round training in student athletics. Don’t get me wrong: I love sports, and we all love basketball around here. But the desire to fill the calendar with wall-to-wall training, lifting, practices and games has gotten out of hand. My reason for saying that is this: where is there Sabbath in the lives of families? Where is a day of rest and worship? Where is the priority of Jesus and the modeling of faith on the part of parents? Parents, if your kids see you minimizing the importance of church for an athletic or training schedule, don’t be surprised if they don’t exhibit signs of faith when they get older. Pro tip: Here is your permission from your pastor. Say no to games, activities & sports that involve Sunday morning. Make youth groups on Wednesdays a priority. If enough parents are willing to say no, there will eventually be change.

I hope you know that I am sharing these things humbly with you. I certainly don’t have everything figured out, either as a Christian or as a parent. I’m simply a disciple who has a few years of discipleship and parenting experience on me, and just wanted to share some bits of wisdom to help you as you seek to point your kids to Christ. I’m in your corner. I’m happy to be a resource. And I’m always praying for you.

I would encourage you to check out more from the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding. They have tons of good helps on their website for parents. They have weekly emails and multiple podcasts that deal with a variety of relevant topics to Christian parents. Read more at their website: cpyu.org.

May God bless and guide you in parenting today’s kids!

Pastor Nate

P.S. Have a bible question or other topic you’d like Pastor Nate to write about? Suggest it in an email to him: nate@auburnchristian.org.