I recently talked with a mom and her young adult daughter about sex and how she navigated through life, making solid choices in a world that screams otherwise. She credited it to this – she was taught sex isn’t something you *shouldn’t* do, but something you *should* protect and value. It wasn’t a ‘thou shall not,’ but rather an ‘I want to protect.’ It was a game changer for her. Sexual empowerment looks like choices and helping children see the value in making healthy choices to protect what is most sacred vs. dictating and demanding they follow a rule to govern themselves.
My mom was a school teacher and not only had gorgeous penmanship, but she also had a high value for it. Homework wasn’t just supposed to be accomplished in our house; it was also supposed to be done neatly. My writing was never perfected like hers, but even as an adult, whenever I write something sloppy, I have an internal check that I should either slow down or redo it. When we proactively teach our children who they are, we are helping them partner with God’s truth about them, which anchors them through life experiences. Example: God told me early on that my son would be a gentleman, so I have called it out since he was two years old. I have looked for ways he can practice being a gentleman (opening doors, helping with strong things, giving up his chair for an elderly lady, etc.). When my son does not act like a gentleman, something goes off inside of him that feels funny because he is acting in a way that is contrary to his true nature.
Children will exercise their flesh and act out; it is the nature of a child, but having the truth written in them helps guide them to become the person they are created to be. When children are not told who they are, they are influenced to become the things God never designed them to be.
Read Daniel 2 & 3 and act out parts of the story. Chapter 3 ends with the abundance of favor over their lives, but there are KEYS to the favor listed in the story. Talk about the king and how he used intimidation to rule his people. Share how Daniel asked and heard God speak and how God changed the circumstances around them because of what Daniel heard. How can a person go through a fire turned up seven times hotter and not burn? It all depends on who is in the fire with you. These chapters are so relevant for today.
Call to your mind when your firstborn baby was born, and you held them in your arms for the first time. Visit that memory for a bit. Then ask, “Jesus, will You show me a picture of how BIG Your Father is in relation to the baby?” Now picture YOU as that little newborn baby. Next, gather as a family in the living room, in the car, at the dinner table, or at bedtime, and ask Jesus together. This is empowering for children because they witness how God communicates with you, which increases their faith, and together you get to encounter Him. Spiritual hearing is a muscle that is strengthened by worshiping and praying. The more you do it, the stronger you become at it.
Often, we focus so much on the struggle instead of the victory. Take a piece of paper and draw a huge heart. Spend some time being quiet before the Lord, and then ask Him to show you what HE has written on the heart of your child (do this separately for each child). What are the passions, dreams, desires, and strengths HE has put deep inside of them? Write down whatever you hear, then deliberately partner with God to call that out in them. Be the parent who says, “Guess what God told me about you today?”
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.
People often ask me what I do for family devotions. I have done a variety of things over the years. My goal is to water their spirits every day just like I do their minds and tummies. I haven’t focused on the HOW as much as I have the WHAT. I felt led to buy each of them a personal devotion and a new journal for Christmas. I coached them on how to read, process, and journal. I felt like God was highlighting that my children are very comfortable with getting prophetic words for people, which I love, but sometimes we need to speak truth and life over people. It will only transform those around us if our words are anchored in HIS truth (the Word). I am having them read and process the following questions each day.
What did this reveal to me about who God is?
How can I relate to the story/Scripture?
What can I be thankful for because of it?
Who needs to hear this truth today?
And then they are crossing their chicken lines and growing in their capacity to ask God to highlight one person who needs to hear the truth they now carry, and they are speaking it over them through text, phone call, or email. I feel like parents need to hear this. Were my kids jumping up and down at the thought of a new journal and devotions? No. Did they fully understand the heart behind the concept of journaling? No. Did they do it on their own? No. Did they thank me profusely for caring about their spiritual growth? No. Did I do it anyway? YES!!!!! Because in this house, we serve the Lord, and this is what He has led me to do with them.
Over the years, I have gone after making sure the kids know the following safety boundaries:
Our family rule was: No man, woman, or child had a right to touch, look or photograph their private parts, and they were not allowed to look, touch or photograph anyone else. We called it keeping ‘sexually safe’ just like I would say, “Wear your helmet to keep your head safe,” “Look both ways to keep your body safe,” or “Don’t touch the stove to keep your hands safe.”
I want to invite you into part of my personal journey in keeping my own children safe.
My daughter asked me one summer if she could get an app. After much dialogue, I agreed. The app was simply supposed to be a service for managing and tracking information. Fast forward to the present. I was away on a trip and noticed my daughter was not acting like herself. I called her numerous times and could just tell something was going on. I even FaceTimed her just to see her face. I hung up and said out loud, “She is lying. She is not okay.”
I came back from my trip and discovered a man was outside at night. Beer cans and bottles were left on different occasions in the same place; another night a pair of construction glasses were left behind. I felt a heightened sense of danger but could not for the life of me find my authority. Normally in situations like that, I rise up like Mama Bear and deal with it, but I was stumbling. It went on for a week. I discovered footprints outside my daughters’ bedroom window and one morning found evidence of someone in our backyard too. My fear was increasing. Clearly, they were not there to break-in, or they would have done it already. There was someone outside watching or worse yet, waiting. I was growing restless with concern. I met with the police and bought an expensive surveillance system. All the while my fear that there was present danger would not cease or back down.
I began to sense something so strongly in my spirit with my daughter. I would ask her questions, but her answers were not bringing me peace. She went to bed early one night, and my spirit was deeply agitated. An hour later I went into her room, turned on her light, sat down and told her I was not leaving until whatever this thing was broke. She lamented with great emotion that everything was fine and that she was not covering anything or intentionally lying.
Parents, sometimes we have to listen to our gut louder than our children. My spirit was alerting me, and it was to be heard, not ignored or dismissed. Yes, we want to respect their free will. Yes, they are becoming adults. Yes, we do not want to move into operating out of control. But if my daughter, who is still under my covering and authority, is struggling, in over her head or hurting, I cannot just turn from her because she resists me in the moment. It is my job to get involved.
Finally, I just started to pray out loud, pouring out my concern and sense that something was not right. I asked her again, and she said nothing. I continued to pray. “Jesus, what is this?” Finally, with great courage, my daughter mentioned that the app she got over the summer had private online chat groups (something that was NOT promoted ahead of time. One didn’t know about it until they were members). She began to tell me about the discussions from peers with instructions on how to pursue same-sex relationships and why kids should have sex before marriage. I asked what she thought about it and she said she knew it was not right. There was still something about this that was not matching the deep check in my spirit. I said, “Sweetie, you are right, that is not okay, but there is something else.” Her witnessing those conversations did not equal the danger I was sensing. She was adamant there was nothing.
I finally asked to see it and was MORTIFIED to discover my daughter was not talking with peers but grown men. Peers do not ask those kinds of questions and my spirit suddenly rose up like Mama Bear. The girls on this online chat were being deceived and lured. Because she violated my rules for safety AND ignored the warnings of the Holy Spirit she opened herself up to danger. And it was manifesting in the natural outside at night.
We walked through some serious repentance (she was horrified at the realization), deleted the app, rose up in our authority as a family and returned the surveillance camera.
God is serious about keeping our children safe, too. Holy Spirit put a check in my spirit that something was not okay. We have to get comfortable listening, honoring, obeying and responding to that nudge in our spirit and not talk ourselves out of it. My daughter had opened not only herself, but our family to danger and Holy Spirit was ON IT to reveal and expose it.
Declare this over your child, even when they are struggling and making messes. “I speak over YOU today there is still room for you at the table. Your messes are part of the growth process. There is still room for you. God has not weakened His gaze or affection over you. You have permission to be on your journey and learn as you grow! We live in a performance-based culture that values your A+ and rejects you for getting a C. God values your process and journey of becoming the full expression of who you were created to be. Break agreement with any voice telling you otherwise!”
A young boy stole some candy from his mom’s closet. She knew it, but he denied it. It is hard for a parent to know they are being lied to, but she trusted God would work it out. A while later, she went to him and expressed that she was disappointed and called out that he was a truth teller, but he continued to deny it. She remained in SHALOM despite the chaos. Finally, before bed, he came to her and confessed. He explained how candy tastes so good, and he wanted it so bad. She asked him, “Really? How good is that candy tasting knowing that you had to lie to get it and break connection?” He acknowledged it wasn’t very sweet after all.
This is an outstanding example of partnering with the Holy Spirit in our parenting and giving Him room to work on our children.
The other thing I want to point out is that the above interaction is how to train boys in purity. There is an emotional element to it for girls, but for boys, there is a self-control element. He is learning just because he wants something, or it feels good doesn’t mean it is worth the cost or right.