As our daughters approach new seasons of life – one adolescence, one the world of 16, and another moving away for college – cut-and-dry, black-and-white answers about boundaries can be as clear as mud! Don’t get me wrong, there are some easy absolutes, but when it comes to protecting them from bad choices and bad influences, how little or how much do we shelter them? To what extent until what age? When does a tight hold become harmful to their spiritual growth or survival?
Arguments that appeal to common sense simply make things murkier. How can we be relevant to the world if we can’t knowledgably talk from experience about the same shows, experiences, books, music, plays, etc.? Isn’t it better for our children to experience temptation and even fall while they’re living under our roof and we can walk them through it? Will their faith become their own if we don’t place them in situations where it’s tested and they have to press hard into God to resist temptation or survive a fall?
I’ve never read or heard a scripture that tells us to expose our children to evil so they’ll be better equipped to stand against it when they leave. Not only that, but scripture doesn’t give a whole lot of weight to our common sense. In fact, it says the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God. Conversely, the wisdom of God is foolishness to the world. He says not to lean on our own understanding but in all our ways acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths, not according to our thoughts and ways, but according to His.
That’s what I want. Not to check my brain at the door so I can bury my head in the sand, but to have God’s wisdom as it applies to common sense.
The bottom line is this:
Raising our children God’s way
is going to be foolishness to the world.
I recognize we can’t protect our children from everything, especially with the relentless onslaught of lyrics piped through speakers in retail stores, images and messages on billboards everywhere, conversations overheard and sexual behavior casually displayed in public settings, what once would have been considered R-rated television commercials and movie previews slyly slipped in with family-friendly programming and films, peer pressure to experiment and experience new things, and the general awkwardness when everyone is doing something you’re not.
We are in the world.
At the same time, we can do whatever it takes to protect them from intentionally participating in those things, even by proximity. We can point their eyes to the One more worthy than anything dangled before them as the moment’s must do or have.
We must desire something better than what this world has to offer, or what it offers will start to look pretty good. The heroes of faith in Hebrews chapter eleven endured because they desired a heavenly country. “Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16).
Do we want this momentary home to be the best our children ever experience? Which do we value more, their temporary or their eternal? Which is harder, living with rejection in this world or acceptance in hell? Do I want my kids to be comfortable for the vapor they spend here or tortured for eternity?
“Oh, Shauna, don’t be so dramatic!!!” you might exclaim. Am I, though? Isn’t this all about their souls? Even if they are saved, the devil remains a formidable enemy against their usefulness to the kingdom of God and their availability to be effective.
So we must be their advocate.
That’s the reality we face as parents continually pointing our children to the cross. If we don’t, by default or neglect, we’re leaving them as prey for the devil, and we all know where he’s headed.
Am I going to let laziness or distraction or discouragement become a foothold for Satan to get a grip on their shoulders and pull them down with him? Or am I going to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5)?
The boundaries I set for my children are naturally going to expand as they grow older. As hard as it is, I do know there’s a time when we have to start loosening our hold. We are there in varying degrees with each of our children; have been for a while with the oldest. There is a gradual letting go to independence that must happen, a time when we do have to step back and let them live their lives directly accountable to the Lord. Ultimately, they are going to have to choose biblical convictions for themselves as the result of the work He is doing directly in their hearts.
The danger is the unrelenting pressure to widen the boundaries too far and too fast when our kids are too young to handle the independence successfully. When they’re too immature to make decisions in circumstances that require maturity. In a lot of cases, our “No” doesn’t have to be a “Not ever,” just a “Not now.”
Lord, challenge our common sense with Your wisdom even as it is foolishness to the world as we become more wholly Yours.