There are three things most Christian parents desire for their children; that they be happy, healthy and holy. It seems simple enough, but the older kids get, the harder it is to force them to eat their greens, be nice to their siblings and read their bible.
When it comes to our children’s spiritual growth it can seem outright overwhelming. Where once sat an outspoken child full of enthusiasm and questions about God’s character, now sits a withdrawn, introspective, grouch who questions God’s actual existence.
This response to faith in our teens send us holy parents reeling into panic. We step into fear, fall into a lack of trust in God and succumb to a whole whack of crazy parenting, including religious parenting.
I’ve been guilty of being an over religious parent. Especially when my kids rebel I want to go into lock down and shove proverbs down their throat! It’s so tempting to raise our children under the law, cursing the world, pointing out their sins, expressing judgment on others as an example of what they shouldn’t do, constant criticism, hiding them under lock and key, instilling fear of them losing their salvation, focusing on works in the home and church and so on. Sound familiar?
This is when Jesus steps in and warns us of another form of bondage, religion. Did you know we can actually cause greater spiritual harm to our children raising them under the bondage of religion than if we left them to the wind? The freedom Christ unselfishly died for needs to be extended to our children.
Moms and dads, even teachers and grandparents have such a God given responsibility to reveal the love of God to our children through grace and forgiveness, just as Jesus extended that to us. Don’t be like the pharises demanding our child be stoned for their rebellion but rather be like Jesus who showed love, grace, forgiveness and yes a little stern talking to.
I’m in no way downplaying discipline; discipline done in love is essential. However, what religion does is say that what they did was wrong - therefore they as a person are fundamentally flawed and wrong. It is a constant reminder they don’t measure up. Grace and forgiveness says, that the behavior was wrong, but they are still valued and loved to the core of their God created being. Love really can cover a multitude of sins if we let it.
This article was originally published in City Light News March 2013