“And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, "Father, what is sexsin?"He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?" he said.I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.“It's too heavy," I said.“Yes," he said, "and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”
― Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom
As a parent, I’m not my kid’s friend. Yesterday I had a good sit down with my 13 year old. I took him out to lunch to talk about life, and congratulate him on making it to the end of the school year. The talk about girls and dating eventually came up. He has a few girls who’ve shown interest, and friends who suggest that he and this or that girl would be cute together. I reminded him of the firm rule in our house: you can start dating when you’re 16. This conversation got me thinking: though we have all boys, the rule would remain firm even if we had girls. In all my years in ministry, I’ve watched kids (many of them now adults) set loose like ships without a sail on an ocean of temptation, many of them bearing the scars and burdens of their relationships. I’m not here to tell anyone else how to parent, but as a parent, my role is not to let my kids “experience life.” My role is to raise godly young children, and to experience life WITH them, and teach them all I can before they become adults.
As a Youth minister, I’ve seen kids as young as 12 end up experimenting with and having sex. I’ve seen younger teenagers get pregnant and have kids. I remember when I began volunteering in Youth Ministry, I asked a rather…rambunctious 6th grader “What are you thinking of when you hold her hand?” To which he replied “I want to hug up on her.” “And when you’re ‘hugging up’ on her?” “I want to kiss her.” “And when you kiss her?” “What color underwear she has on.” Don’t get me wrong, kids with all the right raising and “know how” still make mistakes. Kids are going to make choices, but we, their parents, need to make sure that we are teaching and leading our kids in how to have healthy relationships before letting them loose to go and have one.
There’s things in life our kids can’t handle. We thrust things on them as if they can, and say “aww” when those things look cute, and wonder what happened when things went wrong. If God has blessed you with children, your role is to make sure they get to Jesus. To walk as Jesus walked (to the best of your ability) in front of them, and to teach them to walk as He walked. Sometimes, we can lay burdens on our kids they are not fit to carry. We treat them as friends, and let them make choices that they are not ready to make. God tells me “no” or “not yet” quite often. I am taught to wait on His grace and mercy when I receive this response. It’s not because He doesn’t love me; quite the opposite is true. Because He loves me, He calls me to wait for His timing, or for His final word on the matter. And this is how I raise my boys. To wait on God’s timing, to speak the truth as they are able to bear it, and to ask them to follow me only as I follow Christ.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 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.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
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.
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.
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.
Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.