Let me offer a disclaimer before we start, I will admit that I am not a parent and I don’t know all that goes into being a parent. However, I know EVERYTHING about being a child (lol) and a child that grows up in the church and a Christian household. Don’t read this and get defensive, read it for understanding. I’m trying to save you from having conversations with your child that will make you regret your choices as a parent. This is my opinion but feel free to comment.
1. Don’t have them in church EVERY night of the week. They don’t need to be there every night to learn how to have a relationship with Christ and neither do you. I’m not saying don’t let them go to bible class or be involved in church activities but give them a balance. Let them join a team at school. Put them in dance or gymnastics outside of school and church, giving them the opportunity to make friends in different places. Church every night isn’t going to save them or make them behave. The church is full of unsaved folk but I digress. I don’t think beating them over the head constantly will make them long for Christ. His love, grace, and faithfulness will do that.
2. Dance to secular music with them and in front of them. Secular music isn’t all bad and if you make them think it is, when they get older and finally discover The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, they’ll think they’re “sinning” or doing something that isn’t pleasing to God. Rather play Earth Wind and Fire’s September on a Saturday morning to wake them up. When they’re old enough play the RIGHT Kanye song (lol) it’ll spark a discussion. Listen to Lupe Fiasco and you can teach them something they won’t learn in church or school. If you don’t introduce them to this type of music, their friends or watching Empire will. You can’t shelter them from the world, so it’s better if you show them what good music sounds like so that they can later make the decision of what is and isn’t trash themselves.
3. Teach them how to date. Lord knows I could write a whole post on this one, but when they come to you to tell you they like someone don’t beat them with the scripture. Don’t tell them they’re too young. I don’t have all the answers but perhaps start with meeting the family of the boy or girl they’re interested in and inviting them to dinner, out for ice cream, or a family event. Trust me, if you don’t teach them how to date, their friends will. You thinking they’re too young to date won’t stop their friends ,who are probably already sexually active, from telling them they can. They’ll just start sneaking around. No household is extempt from this issue. (Y’all remember 7th Heaven??) What age is too young to start this conversation? You tell me… I taught 4th grade the last 3 years and you wouldn’t believe the hard conversations I’ve had with parents about their children’s sexual knowledge/interest. Just talk with them about it…some of y’all already saying no and probably because you’re grown and still don’t know how to date. Listen, every single human on this planet needs guidance. Guide your kids or someone else will.
4. Teach your kids to pray outside of church. If you teach them that God is someone who is always there to confide in about anything, it can help with the cycle of only coming to God when we are troubled or want something. Yes, teach them the “Now I lay me down to sleep” but as they mature, teach them to tell God about their day, to say thank you for all he’s done, and share with him any concerns they have. Teach them how to have quiet time with God. Our society is so obsessed with “The Universe” and “Ultimate Beings” who grant our wishes. But God is someone we have to commune with. When we talk to him, he talks back and like a father, he desires to spend time with us, his children. You’ll be teaching them RELATIONSHIP. Again, they’ll appreciate it.
5. Spending time with your family outside of church/ church functions. It’s simple, but everyone isn’t doing it. This is part of how you build a relationship with people in your family and equally as important, create memories. Go to the movies, the zoo, the amusement park, and on a vacation! You could pick one Saturday a month and make it a family day, don’t wait till your kids get too old and be upset that they’re spending more time with their friends than you. This is a relationship like all others that needs to be BUILT.
6. Don’t lie on God. Don’t lie and tell them God doesn’t want them to go to a sleepover or a classmate’s party. Just tell them you’re uncomfortable with it. Don’t lie and say you’re going to pray about a decision involving them knowing that you’ve already made up your mind and just can’t bare to tell them “No.” Doing this will make them grow up thinking God doesn’t want them to have fun. It might also give them a false sense of how God answers prayer. Just don’t do it.
7. Stop telling your daughters that they’re inappropriately dressed for church. If you’re going to say something to your daughter, tell your son as well. I can’t stand when church folks correct women and young girls about their clothing. It’s bad enough that some preachers do it, but there are parents and grandparents who perpetuate this problem. Ask yourself: Why are some preachers so obsessed with correcting the way women dress? Am I supposed to be held responsible for your perverted and nasty mind, come to church dressed like a balloon with my skirt down to the floor, and no makeup whatsoever because red lipstick turns you on? I think not. (And yep, I’ve heard a preacher call out women for wearing red lipstick) Can you address how a man can make a woman lust after him? Are you going to shave your beard and not wear cologne because it makes me want you? Probs not. Obviously I could go on and ON about this subject. But as a parent, if your child comes to you about this issue, don’t you dare pin the church’s religious ideals on how your young adult daughter is dressed. The church needs to address it’s patriarchal system.
You don’t have to take my word for it, the Bible says to “Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Read for yourself so that your actions and decisions are justified by the word.