Tomorrow’s Halloween. Don’t freak out. “The word Halloween literally means the evening before All Hallows Day or All Saint’s Day, celebrated on November 1.” It goes back 1900 years—when the Celtic druids celebrated it as their new year—where the dead mingled with the living. Christian missionaries used the day to show the Light to those living in darkness. While you might hate Halloween, I hope you’ll stop hating it. While it’s a dark holiday, use it to show the light to those who are lost. It’s not every day the Lord brings the lost to your doorstep. When kids are most open to the Gospel, hand out a Keys for Kids devotional or a tract. It’s a seed that may make an eternal difference.
In a culture where mission statements and strategic plans are important for organizations and businesses, I’m wondering if you know what your mission is as a parent. Yes, we’re here to nurture and protect our kids, but is it to give them everything they need to be successful? Is it good for us to make our kids top priority in our lives? Shouldn’t our priorities be to put God first, our spouses second, and everything else third? Why? Well, when we put our kids first, they can become entitled and selfish. Shouldn’t our mission be to point them to a Savior who can give them the most important thing—eternal life? Statistics say 70% of Christians who come to Christ do so between their 4th and 14th birthdays.1 I hope that’s your mission. 1“An Introduction to the 4/14 Window,” ExplainEDtv, YouTube.com
“You’re the best!” “You were singing better than everybody up there.” “You hit the ball further than all the other kids.” If it’s true, you’re not lying. But if they’re not the best, is it lying to tell our kids these things, or should we be truthful? I know it’s important to help our kids with confidence. We need to show them how much we believe in them, but lying to them may hurt your relationship. Eventually, they’ll figure it out. Some will even wonder, “What else are they lying about?” Say things like, “You really gave it your all today, didn’t you? I’m so proud of you.” Or, “Your practice really paid off, didn’t it? Great job.” Speaking the TRUTH in love can build trust for the future.
That’s embarrassing. You raised your kids to love the Lord, be honest, work hard, and be a person of integrity. Then we realize—they’re not. We feel like a failure. Where did we go wrong? If we ARE teaching our kids those things, we’re not failures. We have to remember that we’re raising little sinners who need Jesus. We can’t expect them to be perfect little angels. Without Christ, they can’t be. What’s important is how we try to correct this. Don’t lose your cool and sin yourself. Sternly tell them WHY it’s wrong to cheat. It’s stealing. And it’s sin. I love what Proverbs says, “the integrity of the honest keeps them on track; the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin” (MSG).
I just got off the phone with a woman who gave a generous gift to Keys for Kids Ministries. It didn’t match her other giving, so I called her to ask why. She’s a single mom. She never wanted divorce, but the abuse was non-stop. She had dedicated her life to full-time service—but now she felt ostracized. Never having two nickels to rub together, she says God blessed and she gave. While she’s always prayed for God to fix things and to care for her kids, she realized He WAS—providing for their needs and allowing her to minister through her many part-time jobs and now her giving. It’s only a matter of time until we face a crisis. Will we give thanks in ALL things—like this lady—or question God? What example will WE be to our kids?
That IS frustrating. We went through it. Yeah, the work got done. We made sure of it. But when it came to turning it in, it just didn’t get done. Maybe that’s your situation, or maybe your child is just not doing it at all. This can be for a number of reasons. In my experience, some kids just want to be in control. For others, they’re embarrassed because they don’t understand it and are afraid to ask for help. Or maybe they’re just lazy. Whatever the situation, it all boils down to sin—yep, selfishness. If they’re young, change the behavior quickly before it becomes a habit. If they’re older, punitive but disciplined action will be needed. Speaking from experience, do it in love. My frustration and anger wasn’t very effective.
Our kids are adults. They have kids of their own. A lot of us dreamed about this. Happily married. Grandchildren. Utopia, right? Wrong. While our kids have good jobs, a spouse, and have those prized grandchildren we love, divorce, sickness, and abandoning their faith can be defeating. These are problems that many times we can’t help with. We can only come alongside our kids and cry with them, hold their hand, wrap our arms around them, and pray with them. No matter your situation, remind yourself that God is in control. There isn’t a reason things are happening, but maybe 15,000 reasons they’re happening. What’s most important? Be faithful, be supportive, look to God for guidance, and be ready to share your faith.
We’re all busy. Kids’ activities. Your activities. You feel more like a taxi service and juggler than a mom or dad. Adding one more thing seems overwhelming. Especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. Mom and Dad, the only way to ensure God’s Word is in our kids’ hearts is to read it to them and help them practice what they’re learning. Try this. Pick a Proverb each week. Read it. For example, Proverbs 13. Then pick a verse each day, and practice that verse. “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes” is just one example (Proverbs 13:1, NIV). When your kids obey, tell them they’re following Proverbs 13:1. You can also download our free Keys for Kids devotional app.
Your oldest started talking right on time. Your second, early. But your third? She’s STILL not talking. Other than asking for a bottle or calling your name, it’s just gibberish. You encourage her. You coach her. Still, nothing. And then you realize, your OTHER kids are talking FOR her. In our family, our older two would actually put words in her mouth, saying things like, “Mom, she’s just asking for a cookie.” Or, “She’s saying that I didn’t do it.” Just be patient. When it comes to communicating, remind your other kids that little sissy needs to talk for herself. Then, ask her to point to things she wants. Then coach her. Mine talked late, but then didn’t stop. Spiritual lesson? Sometimes it CAN be serious, but don’t worry. Seek help if you need to, though.
As we look around the world today, we’re seeing persecution against Christians. In China, churches are being closed. Believers—jailed. Evangelism for those under 18—prohibited. In the Middle East, Christians are beaten. Ostracized. Yet outreach continues there. More Muslims are coming to Christ than ever before. What are we teaching our kids? Are we telling them that following Christ is easy, or a battle? Are we telling them stories of our brothers and sisters who are suffering for their faith, yet joyful because they love God so deeply? Suffering for Christ is an honor for our friends—is it for us? We need to remind our kids that being teased for our faith is expected. Remember, Jesus said if they hated Him, they’ll hate us, too.
I was one of those kids. I prayed the prayer. It was fire insurance. Then I lived my own life—not a Christian at all. As parents, our job isn’t to save our kids. That’s up the Holy Spirit. But our job IS to teach our kids right and wrong and, most importantly, the Gospel. The Gospel must be on our lips 24/7. Jesus was among the people, and THEY lost sight of it. It needs to be ingrained in their little brains that man is sinful, that we’re separated from God, and that Jesus—God’s Holy Son—had to die for us to repair that relationship. We don’t deserve it, but have to confess and believe it. Then, out of gratitude for it, we worship God and share it. We can help you teach it with our free kids devotional: https://keysforkids.org/getkeys
Cara asks: can you talk about “how to teach your kids not to act like barn animals”? Well, burps and far…—I mean, flatulence—can be the most entertaining of noises to some boys—maybe girls too, I don’t know. When they happen at unexpected moments it can create uncontrollable laughter. But when it happens in the middle of prayer, school, weddings, or church or funeral services, it can be embarrassing, especially if it’s done on purpose. When our kids are young, make sure you teach them to say, “Excuse me.” That’s obvious. We always told our kids at dinner, “If you have to ‘toot,’ go to the bathroom.” Forcing it in public isn’t appropriate in many cases, but let’s face it—while it’s gross—I can think of a lot worse things, can’t you?
Who doesn’t like an easy way to check information? I sure do. While easy is nice, it’s not always the best for our kids. But, in THIS situation, you might want to make an exception. Our goal as Christian parents and grandparents is to point our kids to Christ. Now, Keys for Kids has an easy way to do that. If you have an Amazon Echo or Dot, you can use your app to create a Flash Briefing that will play Keys for Kids and Parent Minute. Just go to your Amazon Alexa app, and then search for “Keys for Kids.” Tap “Enable” on both feeds, and it will be added to your daily Flash Briefing. Then, each morning, say, “Alexa, play my Flash Briefing,” and you’ll hear Keys for Kids and Parent Minute every day at your command.
Watching your parents go from active and “with it” to inactive and forgetful is pretty difficult. I guess that’s difficult at any age, isn’t it? But how do we help our kids process this change as life happens? I have a friend at church who was an amazing guy. He sang in the choir for 60 years, was active, walked every day. He was funny. Quick as a whip. Today, he’s just a shadow of that man—mostly unresponsive and confined to a wheelchair at the care facility. While these changes are hard for kids sometimes, use it as a teaching moment. Let them see you honor, respect, and interact with your failing parents. Remember, they’ll be in the same situation with you before you know it.
I can’t imagine a more painful conversation. Knowing that your own flesh and blood aborted your grandchild. There are many ways you can handle this. I love what John Piper at Desiring God says: “Jesus offers forgiveness for women who have aborted a child. He offers it to men who have encouraged their girlfriend or wife to abort their child. He offers it to employees of abortion clinics. And he offers it to those who are apathetic and doing nothing about this great evil in our society.”1 As parents who find themselves here, we MUST extend forgiveness and unconditional love. This is a time to be Jesus. Maybe God will use this to do an amazing work in a daughter’s life. 1Abortion: A Topical Survey, “Offering Grace to All Involved,” DesiringGod.org