I cannot say for certain one way or another, but I had a few thoughts on things that may have helped them in the process of raising their children. In considering these principles, I realized these were some good guidelines for me as a parent to focus upon in my life as I raise my children.
First of all, our children’s socialization is important. The people your children spend the most time with are going to be the people they emulate. Our preacher once said, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” If our children are spending the bulk of their time with worldly friends and engaging in worldly entertainment, we cannot be surprised when they grow up to live worldly lives. It is a natural progression (1 Corinthians 15:33).
We need to find ways for our children to fellowship with Christian friends and role models. I personally think it is wrong to limit our children’s fellowship to only people their own age; the church is a family and I want my kids to be friends with the grandmas and grandpas, the aunties and the uncles, as well as all of the cousins, nieces and nephews. Maybe they will make only close friendships with people their own age, but they need to be able to be friends with people who aren’t their age also. This will make them well-rounded individuals and give them godly role models to look up to. It will also give them people who have similar values to talk to, or ask for advice.
In our case we are blessed to be able to homeschool. Our kids come with me everywhere I go and have met and created relationships with many different people. This is wonderful because they see how we interact with people from different walks of life and how we can let the light of Jesus shine in our community. We are also blessed with a variety of opportunities to participate in spiritual activities. Our youth group is very active and attends functions all over the state, and sometimes even out of state. We go to family camp, the kids go to training camps, and there are numerous youth camp options during the summer. Look for these opportunities and encourage your kids to attend. If you’re not sure about the quality of the function, ask around. Talk to youth ministers at other congregations and find out if the activity is doctrinally sound.
Secondly, the Bible teaches us in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 that we are to be talking about our godly values all of the time. In modern-day-speak, that might translate to, “Talk to your children about Biblical principles when you’re driving, when you’re at Walmart, when you’re at home, when you go to bed and when you’re out to dinner.” Essentially, find opportunities to talk to your kids about your Christian values all of the time.
Again, being homeschoolers helps us fulfill this commandment. I make Bible study, memorization and reading a part of our schedule. If your kids attend school you can still do this; just start your day with a Bible verse to think about, or talk about principles while you’re driving to school. In the evening take time to read a chapter of the Bible, or, if your children are young, read from a Bible storybook before bed. There are as many ways of doing this as there are people doing it; you are only limited by your own imagination.
Be sure to show your children how the principles we read about in the Bible apply to our daily lives. Once they know the scriptures, they need to be able to see those scriptures in action. For example, one time one of my kids said, “Hey Mom, that reminds me of when Joseph was in Egypt and he stayed faithful to God.” I don’t even remember what the conversation was about, but he made the connection between a life incident and a Bible story and I was ecstatic. Teach your kids how to make that connection through constant conversations.
Finally, the third thing I think pulls our children away from the Lord is when the lives of Christians look exactly like the lives of our worldly neighbors. The Bible calls us to be a set-apart people. We are to be holy and sanctified; we are supposed to look different (1 Corinthians 6:11, Peter 1:15-16). I love it when someone approaches me and says, “You look like someone who believes in God. Will you pray for my wife who is in the hospital? I’m so worried about her.” Or another one, “I can tell you’re some sort of Christian by the way you dress. Where do you go to church?” Both of these have happened to me and they caused me to rejoice for the opportunity to share my love for God with someone. Both of these happened because I look different than the world.
My husband and I discovered a few years ago that we were guilty of sometimes just “going with the flow.” Everyone around us did this or that and so it was just the accepted way of doing things. Suddenly, we realized we had never taken the time to look at these things in our life through the lens of our faith. When we stopped to really analyze how God would want us to approach this situation, we realized that we were doing things that would not be pleasing to Him. Some things were small, but some things were truly life-changing.
Consider some of these things: finances, our children’s education, birth control, dating. There are many, many more. We realized we had just done the same things our worldly neighbors were doing without really stopping to consider what God wanted from us. When we prayerfully considered how we should approach these things from a Godly perspective, we changed our hearts and changed our lives.
These are just three things that I came up with in that conversation. I’m sure there are more. But I am offering these up to you in the hope that maybe you will reconsider some of the things you’re doing in your life to see if they are truly bringing glory to God. And this isn’t a one-time deal. Once you start this process you will continue to do it over and over on regular basis. We will never get everything right, but hopefully by following some of these tips we can make improvements to our lives that will bring us closer to Him and help our children build a strong and lasting relationship with Him also.
By Fern Boyle
Fern Boyle is a homeschooling mom of six kids who lives in Enid, Oklahoma. Her husband, Doug, is an elder in the church of Christ at Garriott Road, and a pilot in the military, having served in both the Marine Corps and Air Force. Their time traveling from coast to coast has blessed them with friends in the church all across the country as well as many opportunities to grow as Christians. Fern enjoys running, hiking, reading and teaching ladies Bible class. She used to have other hobbies but then she had more kids. Her children are what she loves most, however, watching them grow and develop into wonderful young men and women.