Once you learn the incredible ways earthly relationships can impact or distort a child’s view of the godhead (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit), it changes the way, you parent. I am constantly looking for ways to reveal to them the reality of who God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit really are. There have been times when I have not modeled it well and have responded harshly or with impatience. When I go back to make it right, I will say, “Holy Spirit is never harsh or impatient with you, and I am sorry that I treated you that way.” One of the most helpful things you can say to a child going through a divorce is, “Do you know God will never leave you?” or to the child being bullied, “Jesus would never treat you like that.” Humans fall short, but God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit do not.
I woke to the sound of my daughter throwing up. I had to manage my nose carefully, or the mere smell would cause me to join her. I couldn’t bear the thought of her enduring getting sick alone, so I covered my nose and put my hand on her back, assuring her she would be okay. As I prayed over her, I began to think how incredibly nasty throw-up is. Yet I was praying that whatever was inside of her would come out. I began to think of poop and how utterly gross that is, yet without that daily function, we would die. God designed our bodies to get rid of whatever is making us sick. I thought of how our minds sometimes get filled with toxic things and need a good throw-up! I am more concerned with the lies my child may pick up after enduring an unpleasant situation than I am about the actual situation. It isn’t the event that causes lasting trauma; it is the lie and trapped pain that wreaks havoc on their systems. I often ask, “Are you willing to ask Jesus to show you if you are believing any lies because of (whatever the event).” It isn’t a matter of IF your children will ever believe lies; it is a matter of WHEN. We can arm them with creative ways to break agreement with the lie. I used to keep colored markers by the toilet. When Jesus revealed a lie they believed, we would write/draw it on a piece of toilet paper, and then they would toss it in the toilet and watch the colors swirl as we flushed the lie. We have burned them in the backyard fire pit. We have put them in the shredder. We have written them on the bathroom mirror and then used a spray bottle to wash away the lie. We have wadded them up in a paper ball and thrown them out. We have put them on the ground and stomped on them. Either way, help your child vomit the lies they believe.
I will be honest with you and say that two of my children’s love languages are easy for me; I speak their language with ease and fluency. Yet two of them have unnatural languages, even a little annoying to me at times. I started learning more about love languages when I became a single mom, and I assure you the LAST, the very last thing this mama wanted to do was to be childlike and play a game to get that quality time in. Ugh! It was almost painful for me to speak their language of quality time, especially since I was already with them 24/7, non-stop. But my children mattered to me, and God has entrusted me to steward them well. I was learning to lay ME down to fill THEM up. I am a good representative of A SIDE of Jesus, but Jesus has many sides, and my children allow me to become more like Him and walk in greater love as I let their NEEDS grow me into being more like Jesus. John 15:13-14 (TPT) – “For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends.”
Some of us come from very religious backgrounds and fear that if we constantly say, “Let’s ask Jesus,” it will push the child away from God, not towards Him. This is where the difference between a religious spirit and a relationship comes into play. When kids are thumped over the head with religion and Scriptures are being used as weapons of control, they resist. When kids talk to their earthly father, they are blessed because the interaction is alive and real and deposits goodies in their hearts. The same is true with Jesus: when they ask and HEAR Him replying, it builds a relationship. That is a good thing and is long-lasting.
Pray (out loud) – “Jesus, I thank You that (your child’s name) ’s spiritual ears are open and that he/she has the ability to hear their Father clearly today. Teach me, God, to be a good teacher of Your voice to the children You have entrusted me with. Give me creative ways to teach, model, practice, and usher my children into hearing Your voice. Thank You that You have good things to say to my children and that their lives change when they hear Your voice. Thank You that I am not an ill-equipped parent but that I get to partner with You in parenting. You knit them together and know more about them than I ever could. Thank You that I am not alone in this journey but can come to You anytime for answers and truth. Let my home be a home that stands on Your written and spoken Word, and let Your voice be the only voice that is acceptable. Help me lead my children to Your presence through living and tangible encounters with You. Thank You that You are in all things, and in all things, we can involve You.”
God seems to be highlighting a particular area, and I want to camp out and create some conversation on the topic of parents’ concern over keeping their children sexually safe. I have ministered to a handful of parents as God is setting them free from fear and moving them to rise up in their God-given authority. We welcome what we FEAR. It is like opening the front door and saying, “Oh, I see you. Come on in.” While that is not our heart, it is the nature of what fear does in the spiritual realm. Fear is not a tool of heaven and will not produce the Kingdom fruit you desire. YES! There are real dangers in today’s world, and there is a full-on demonic assault against our children’s identity and sexual purity. BUT God has answers and solutions to help us equip and protect them. You are on the front lines, and now is not the time to shrink back, surrender or admit defeat. It is time to rise up, get your armor on, and declare that your house will be passed over with the schemes of the enemy.
We can teach our children that Jesus is a 1st Responder who we can go to with our highs, lows, and everything in between.
Lauren greeted me one Sunday morning in her brand new (adorable) outfit, along with a scowling face. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “I feel UGLY!” It was intense, and she was really feeling it. I simply hugged her and said, “Catch and release, sweetheart.” I have taught them they can catch those sneaky little lies that wreak havoc on our emotions and release them. I didn’t have to tell her it was a lie as her agitated heart was proof enough that it wasn’t of God. I have empowered her to RELEASE those pesky lies and not massage, embrace or feast on them. By the time we walked out the door, she was at peace again. I asked her later how she was doing, and she said, “Man, that lie hit me hard out of nowhere.”
Let’s face it – as adults, we don’t always catch and release this fast, but this is what the next generation looks like when they are intentionally taught from an early age that they can catch the lie and release it. Teach your child how to catch and release!
Corporate love works well for the one in authority but not so much for the receiver because it denies their creative expression and teaches them they need to look like, sound like, and act like everyone else. Each child is different, and we must learn how to dance with them alone. They have different styles, personalities, likes, interests, talents, desires, and ways of connecting. The sooner we realize this as parents, the greater joy there will be in our homes. It is impossible for a child to feel seen, heard, and valued when expected to be someone other than who God knits them together to be.
Examples of corporate love: expecting everyone to work, eat, get dressed, and do homework at the same speed. Some children just move faster/slower.
Expecting everyone to respond to the same style of communication. Some children need things spelled out more, said with greater tenderness or more engagement, such as eye contact.
Expecting everyone to adjust to your spoken love language. Children speak their own language and may not have a natural high appreciation for yours.
Expecting everyone to value and appreciate what you value and appreciate. Some children are just simply not going to follow in your footsteps but need to find their own journey.
Expecting everyone to be happy when you are happy, tired when you are tired, or hungry when you are hungry. Children have different needs based on their own bodies.
Ask Jesus to show you if you are expecting your children to be mini-you’s in an area that God wants them to BE who He created them to simply be.
Children might be world changers in training, but they still have childlike immaturity that needs to be cultivated so that they can endure the assignments God wants to give them to change the world around them for a lifetime. Character is a stone in their foundation that must be laid in childhood.
Character Counts is a downloadable digital resource that we created to give parents the How-To in equipping their children with godly character. We provide you with fun and engaging activities to do with your child to empower good character.
Picture a funnel. Do you give your child so much freedom at an early age and then, as the year’s progress, begin to take away their freedom? Or do you start with smaller freedoms and gradually increase it as they display self-control to be able to use freedom wisely? Oftentimes, parents have this mentality that if they put restrictions on their small child, they are breaking their spirit, harnessing them, and controlling them. I beg to differ. When we allow our children to do whatever they want whenever they want, we are teaching them that the world is open and free. While that may be a perfect world, it is not the reality in which they live. The truth is if they steal, they will go to jail. If they speed, they will pay a fine. If they do not pay taxes, the IRS will knock on their door. The world is full of consequences and models God’s principle of reaping and sowing. There will be a time when you will have to say NO to your child, yet the more you teach them they can have whatever they want whenever they want it, the harder the battle will be for them when reality hits. Let’s flip the funnel upside down and limit their freedom as they have the self-control to manage themselves. We do not allow a one-year-old to climb the stairs because their little legs are not strong enough to carry them. We do not allow a ten-year-old to drive a car because it will create greater harm. The same applies to our parenting. You are not stifling them; you are building them up for success for the long haul.
P.S. Teenagers do not like their freedoms taken away! You will have fewer battles down the road if you start out small and build upon them. Entitlement is a tricky thing to break.
Since the enemy is fear-based, I never wanted to teach my children in a way that educated them so much they were afraid of being afraid. I simply explained that God has an enemy who is jealous of Him and wants to be like Him (enough said). It is wrong to think that God is on one side and the enemy on the other, battling it out. The enemy is ALWAYS on the bottom because he is already defeated. Children need to have an accurate view of the ‘battle.’ The battle isn’t of random wins and loses like a football game, but that we are always victorious over the enemy and his ways always! While it feels true at times that the enemy is winning, the truth is that God is unmoved from His throne as ruler over A-L-L things. Read together 1 John 4:4.
Teach the children – Take out a sheet of paper and fold it down the center bringing the left side of the paper to the right side. Write God on one side and enemy on the next. Under God write out the things associated in their life with Him right now (provision, peace, safety, joy, covering). Under ‘enemy’ write out the things associated with him (fear, worry, doubt). Rip up the paper and tell them that this is not the truth about what is going on. Grab another sheet of paper and fold it in the middle (fold the top part of the paper down) and write God on top teaching them that God has no equal. Read Isaiah 40:12-31 together. Then take a pen and draw a line an inch from the bottom edge and show them the truth is the enemy is Jesus’ footstool. Romans 16:20.