By Janet Pérez Eckles, Crosswalk.com
With iPhone in hand and a huge grin, Nicole dashed into the kitchen. “Mom, I got over 650 likes on my TikTok!” she said.
Life has changed. Tic toc used to be the sound of a clock. Now “likes’ on social media like TikTok often dictate our kid’s mood. Luring videos replaced playing with dolls. Rather than playing ball with neighborhood kids, video games clamor their attention.
The only problem is that when these new and popular activities consume our kid’s free time, they can become false gauges of their self-worth, identity and confidence.
With time, their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health is at risk.
But that risk goes down if parents choose courage. They become bold enough to toss out the world’s pattern and embrace God’s values instead.
The concept seems logical. But in this chaotic world, how do parents manage that? The answer is in recognizing who manages our own priorities, time and efforts as we raise our kids.
The battle can be fierce. That’s why we need to determine who will call our orders---the world, or God’s Word?
As we march into the battlefield of parenthood, we can count victory if we’re equipped with these four weapons:
1. Reject the World’s Ways
“Okay, kiddoes,” I announce to my 10- and 13-year-old grandkids seated in the back seat. “Are you ready for a quiz? It’s a multiple choice and you need to choose the right answer.”
“Yup, ready,” they say in unison.
Here’s the first question:
When we see on the news the number of people affected by Covid19 and we hear people insulting each other about political issues, what we must do is:
A. Go to sleep in fear and wonder why God is allowing all this.
B. We get mad and complain about how our life has changed because we can’t go to school like before.
C. We remember how great God is, how He’s mightier than any virus and we’re grateful He’s taking care of us.
D. None of the above
When they choose “C,”, I cheer and praise them.
As they grow up, they need to know life is filled with choices, big and small. Those choices lead them to a specific outcome—to follow the mind of Christ, or follow the distorted mind of the world.
If we’re not alert, the latter will lead them away from God’s perfect will for them. That’s why the Apostle Paul says, ”Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2).
Kids learn by watching. If parents refuse to conform to the world, kids will too. But when do stress-filled Mom and Dad begin this task? And how often should they engage in that teaching? All the time. Every chance they get. With every opportunity. “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:7-9).
Their mental health begins with a mind filled with God’s Word.
2. Have the Wisdom to Give Them Healthy Choices
“Read those ingredients,” Amy’s Mom called out from the kitchen. Can a seven-year-old know the meaning of reading ingredients on a box of cereal?
Amy does. She learned what goes into a product will be what goes into her body. Simple concept but powerful when our children learn what harms them and what promotes physical health.
Really? How can crazy busy parents take time to teach them that? That’s the challenge for most American parents. And statistics prove it. Studies show today there’s a greater number of children with diabetes and obesity than ever before. But who is to blame? Everything that tastes good seems to be bad for you.
So, what’s the answer? The solution is to give them choices. But those choices are made by parents as they walk down the aisles of the grocery store.
It’s down those aisles where victory is won. Choosing healthy items causes the pantry and fridge to be filled with good options. Kiddoes can grab a snack which was pre-determined by Mom to be a good choice.
“Lord, I’m asking for your wisdom,” Amy’s Mom prays as she enters the grocery store. Her budget is limited but her faith in God to lead her to nutritious options is limitless.
If you’re like most confused and frazzled parents, God understands and promises: “…If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
God’s wisdom is the secret ingredient to spark health for our children.
3. Have Courage to Overcome Negative Emotions, Starting with Yourself
Paul and Gina deserve the “great parent’s: medal. They spend time with the kiddoes, attend church whenever possible. They provide for them, set a good example and have dreams for their future.
But they have a problem. It’s their language. Although they don’t repeat offensive words, they express their worry about the virus. They comment to one another and to friends about their frustration and fear about the future.
We all do that. But when our children’s ears pick up expressions of fear, worry and stress, they embrace the same sentiments.
What parents do, children imitate. What parents say, they repeat and internalize.
As a result, Paul and Gina struggle with Maria, their 12-year-old daughter who finds it hard to go to sleep. She voices worry about the virus, about her parents’ job.
At her age, her concerns should be in other areas---her school work, her tasks at home, her commitments to her youth group and her obedience to God.
So, what’s the answer? Do we parents and grandparents put on a mask of happiness to hide our dissatisfaction with the world? Or do we voice what’s in our mind anyway?
God has the answer. His Word says in Proverbs 18:21, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.”
The words parents say, the expressions they repeat and the attitude they convey can either bring life into their children, or bring death to their sense of security.
Gulp. That’s a huge burden for parents to carry. It is, unless God’s Word controls their thoughts. These thoughts mold what they say-- words that align with His precepts.
Then they paint a new scenery for their kids. It reflects the beauty of God at work and showcases His faithfulness.
Consequently, kids receive the message that God is infinitely more powerful than the world’s crisis, the danger of a virus or threat to their finances.
This approach becomes parents’ greatest weapon in the battle against fear. It chisels away sentiments of insecurity and worry in our children.
As a result, we’re molding emotionally healthy children. They take daily doses of positive, edifying words. And these words of truth pierce through the negativity of this world.
4. Emulate Boldness to Make Them Warriors
Let’s not brag. But Alyssa excels in nearly all she attempts. She earned her black-belt in Karate. She sings beautifully. She’s a straight A student. Loves the Lord and lives for Jesus, her Savior.
So, what’s the problem? The world. The pressure to perform, to excel and to out-do others is fierce.
So, how do we ground our kids to look beyond the performance and stop the hunger for acceptance?
We emphasize God’s purpose for their lives.
One afternoon I patted the sofa beside me, “Sit here, Alyssa,” I said.
Even at 13 years old, she still complies with her Nana.
With every detail, description and color, I described Queen Esther’s life. The beauty she possessed. The admiration she gained. And the challenge she was given.
“There’s the secret,” I said to Alyssa, “God gives us all gifts talents and challenges too. and even disabilities. But none mean a thing unless we use them to give glory to God and bring others to Jesus.”
She listened. Then she asked, “But how about you, Nana,” she said, “how can your blindness be used for God’s glory?”
I explained how God uses our weaknesses, our failures, our victories, talents, even our disabilities. He can turn them all to opportunities for us to serve Him.
Over and over again, Alyssa’s parents emphasize that purpose for her life. Why is that important? Because similar to her, millions of teens, though unaware, are vulnerable. They’re tempted to look for meaning, significance and acceptance in the world around them.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. When parents accept the challenge to become bold in their convictions, they illustrate God’s purpose. They choose to be outspoken about the power of God. And while studying God’s Word as a family, they speak God’s calling for each of their children.
And while many are swept away by the current of gloom, evil and distorted values, Children exposed to a regular regimen of God’s Word may face attacks, temptations and lures. But they are spiritually healthy. Thus, they become strong warriors able to win each battle and end up victorious.
That triumph begins when parents recognize their position in each of the four areas where battles are won: Their physical health is important. Their emotional health is needed. Their mental health is a priority. And their spiritual health determines their eternal destiny.
God’s Word empowers parents to triumph in raising healthy children. That’s why rather than being overwhelmed by the task, they overflow with expectations and trust. Trust that God will pave the way, wipe out fear, put back peace and to each day, bring new hope.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
Janet Perez Eckles, international speaker, author and President of JC Empowerment Ministries helps thousands overcome fear, and through Christ turn trials to triumph. Learn more at www.janetperezeckles.com.