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How to Train Your Children to Handle Worldly Pressures

Aug 18, 2007
Have you ever wondered why children raised in a Christian home often go to college and turn away from the faith? Or why most teenage and young single Christians really aren't any better at handling relationships than their non-Christian peers? I suspect that both problems have a similar answer.

When I was a teenager and young single, I had plenty of issues with relationships. I had one foot in the church and one foot in the world. Part of me really wanted to do things right (and I knew a lot about what was right). The other part of me was entangled in the relationship ideas the world offered. And I didn't have the sense -- or the training -- to be able to tell one from the other. They were all thrown into a pile in my mind and no one knew which side would come out at any given time.

I suspect I wasn't a lot different than most kids who are raised in the church today. Growing up, I spent at least eight hours a day around worldly kids (like most kids do these days). So I knew how they acted. But I also received good teaching from my parents and my church. So I knew a lot of truth.

This created a problem, though. While there was a seed of truth planted inside me that was nurtured and growing, I was planted among the thorns for most of my waking hours. I loved people and wanted to have good relationships. But I was conflicted. I didn't really know how to develop mature relationships. Most of my relationships were fairly shallow. Those that did grow almost always ended badly, grew apart, or became worldly in some way or another (except for some with strong believers).

It wasn't until I died to many of those worldly ideas that I finally began to develop lasting, deep relationships. And getting rid of those ideas didn't happen overnight. It took a lot of painful work to pull those weeds out of my life. Fortunately, God's grace was much stronger than the world's hold on me.

As parents, we can't keep our kids out of the world. They have to live in it and be a part of it. But how can protect them from having the same struggles as I had? The answer is in how we prepare them and how we expose them to the world.

Most parents have a more reactive method to their parenting. They throw their kids into the world and then hope to deal with all that the world throws at them once they see it in their kids. Doing this is akin to raising your children among the thorns and weeds. And, as the parable of the sower explains (Luke 8), when plants are young, they're far more susceptible to the thorns. In fact, the thorns can choke them out.

Instead parents need to have a much more proactive approach to training. It's far better to train your kids first, and then gradually expose them to the world to see how well they handle small bits of exposure. If they handle it well, commend them and build on it. If they don't, correct them gently and retrain.

As they grow in your training, they'll be able to handle the weeds and thorns much more effectively. When they go to college, they can deal with the added freedom and tough situations far better. And their relationships will be deeper and fruitful much earlier in life. Those deep relationships act as roots when the world comes against them. They can pull them back when the hardest winds blow. After all, a tall oak hardly notices the briars at its feet. But a sapling is easily overcome.
About the Author
Steve Kroening writes for Success magazine and also publishes Wisdom's Edge. You can get Biblical tips on health, finance, relationships, parenting, and success, delivered to your email inbox every week. Simply visit http://www.wisdomsedge.com and sign up for this free e-zine.
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