Helping Children Make Wise Decisions

How can children best make decisions? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I have been reading a book called Grand Theft Childhood which is about claims that violent video games produce violent kids. (Review coming.) I read a section recently based on the interviews as parents and their kids were interviewed separately and they were talking about the ESRB rating system. For those who don’t know, that’s a video game system that rates video games in a similar way to how TV shows and movies are rated.
The mother was sure her 13 year-old son wasn’t playing any games she didn’t approve of. He gave a different story. He and his seventeen year-old brother knew how to trick her. When they went to a video store to rent a game, they sought out the worst one they knew she wouldn’t approve of. After she said no, they found the one that they really wanted which looked good by comparison then and she approved.
Most of us likely grew up with such tricks. Children I suppose have always been trying to manipulate their parents. For instance, do you want to do something that could be dangerous? Ask Dad first.
Now I don’t know the religious status of this family, but I did see a problem here with how we raise our children. These boys are teenagers and their mother is still having to approve their decisions? If they lived in biblical times, the youngest would likely at least be preparing to have his own children and the oldest likely already would.
How long can this last? When the kids go to college, does anyone really think that they will ask for Mom’s approval? Not a bit. They will immediately be doing the things Mom forbade them from doing.
What do you do then? Won’t they leave home and mess up immediately? Won’t they be the ones the parents tried to prevent them from being? There is a solution.
Don’t make the decisions as they get older. Begin early on teaching them how to make good decisions. Give them a worldview whereby they can make informed choices and they will be their choices as well. If they make mistakes, they own them and suffer the consequences. If they make good ones, they also own them and reap the benefits.
For many parents, it can be tempting to be helicopter parents and hover over their children to protect them from all harm. You can’t. If anything, in the long run, this will likely lead to more harm for your kids. If you teach them instead how to be wise in decision-making instead of just going by what feels good at the moment, you will set them up for a lifetime of success.
Remember, your job as a parent is to be the one to actually work yourself out of a job. When your kids reach the stage where they are making wise decisions independent of you, then you have succeeded. The old saying is that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day but if you teach him how to fish you feed him for a lifetime. If you make your child’s decision you protect them for a day, but if you teach them how to make wise decisions, you protect them for a lifetime.
Also, if you want a resource for younger children, I definitely recommend Elizabeth Urbanowicz’s Foundation Worldview resource.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

The Influence of Christian Parents

How important is a Christian education to a child? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I recently read J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity in Conflict. This is being read for school and if I read something for school, I don’t really want to do a book plunge on it for the most part. Machen in his day was one of the most influential New Testament scholars and was revolutionary here in America.

Machen wrote about the virgin birth, which I do affirm, especially and so much that even a 100 years later, we’re still talking about what he wrote. He was a man of great learning and one of the great Princeton Theologians. He also went and studied abroad in Germany.

The book is largely an autobiography of his and he does touch lightly on the education he got in the secular schools growing up, but if there’s one aspect of his life that was influential on him remaining a strong Christian, it was his parents. His parents were devout Christians and also very learned Christians. His father was a lawyer who in his 80’s started learning Italian and reading Italian authors just for the fun of it. I don’t think as much was said about his mother, but her character shone through and through.

Both of them encouraged Machen to read and learn and both of them encouraged him to ask questions. They were not people who shied away from doubts and Machen did often times have doubts. However, as time goes by, he gets more and more help in getting a higher education, but one can see throughout his life, the great influence his parents had.

When he studied abroad in Germany, he was not in a conservative environment at all. He was in one where he was challenged every day and yet, he held on and argued his case well and read all he could of his opponents. What really helped him so much? The preparation he had at the feet of his parents.

Christian parents. This is for you. Please never lose sight of the influence that you can have on your children. For all you know, you could have another Machen growing up in your household.

That means that you do take them to church regularly, but don’t just do that. Educate them in your home. Make Christianity something you live seven days a week and not just on church days. Do not be afraid of your kids having questions and if you don’t know the answer, go and find it.

I am sure some atheist readers could say something about indoctrination, but the reality is I expect most parents will somehow raise their children up with their values. I suspect Muslim parents, Mormon parents, Jewish parents, and atheist parents all do this. You don’t really want to force your kids, but if what you believe about ultimate reality really matters to you, you will pass that on to your children.

If you’re wondering some on how to do that, I have a resource for you. I recommend you check my friend Elizabeth Urbanowics’s program Foundation WorldviewHer work is aimed to help extremely young children start to learn about the Bible and how to think and about what it means to be a Christian.

Raise your children well. Welcome their doubts and questions. Be there to support them. Our world is not a safe place and you will have more influence than anyone else.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)