If you were to ask a young parent, do you think raising your children is more difficult today than it was for your parents, most would answer yes. They would immediately point to the conditions of our society and the many temptations facing their children. But, would they be right?
It’s true that there has never before been a generation with such access to information, good and bad. It’s true that the media has tremendous power to influence the minds of those who are watching and listening. And it’s true that alcohol, drugs, and sexually explicit materials are all readily available.
It could even be said that our society no longer has any real moral compass. What was once considered immoral is now openly promoted by the media and those of influence. They are calling evil good and good evil just as is written in Isaiah 5:20-23.
There was a time when parents could count on those in authority to help mold the character of their children. Expectation of moral behavior was reinforced by ministers, teachers, coaches and others. But we all understand that today the conduct and beliefs of these authority figures can no longer be taken for granted.
The fact that parents can expect more opposition than support from our society certainly makes the job more difficult. However, God has never given the church, the school, or the government the responsibility and authority to raise children; He gave that to the parents.
We live in a society where people want to retain authority but transfer responsibility and accountability to others. Unfortunately, many parents have become willing participants in this trend. They are abdicating their responsibilities for their children to others in the pursuit of finance or lifestyle, and then trying to hold those people accountable for the negative results.
You could even say it this way. Children are often sacrificed on alters of; the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things. (Mark 4:19) None of which have any eternal value but all of which have become driving forces in the hearts of many.
The truth is, things have not really changed all that much in the world. Solomon wrote this in Ecclesiastes 1:9 That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. (NKJV) And in 1Co 10:13 we read, There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Human nature has not changed and temptations in life still come from the same source. The devils still uses the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life to deceive us and our children. (1John 2:16) The belief that outside influences and temptations are to great for our children to overcome, even with the love and protection of the parents, is dangerous ground. It denies the power of God to make a way of escape and opens the door to the justification of wrong behavior.
However, if parents understand that what their children believe in their heart is the real key to behavior and that they are responsible for what is believed, then the times and conditions make very little difference. The Bible makes it clear that behavior is nothing more than a visible extension or manifestation of what the heart believes. And, if you listen to your children carefully, their own words will expose their heart.
Proverbs 4:23, “Keep the heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”
Proverbs says that the very issues of life flow from the heart. The word “Issues” here also means boundary or borders. We are told to diligently guard the heart, or in other words, control what it believes; it’s the treasure chest of beliefs. And parents are continually adding to this treasure through words and deeds. What children believe in their heart determines the boundaries and borders of behavior. Under pressure they always default to what they believe.
So, is it more difficult today? The answer depends on your perspective. If you realize that God has given you the responsibility, the authority, and His power to raise your children, then the condition of our society is not the issue. If you are willing to contend for their heart, filling it with treasures of the Word, then all the other sources of influence will lose their power and appeal.
The devil is trying to sell you a lie. He starts by saying, “you can’t possible control all the things and people that will influence your children.” That’s the truth. But then he follows with the lie; “since you can’t control these outside influences, you are not responsible for the affect they have on your children.” He is a master at presenting a big lie disguised in a little truth. He’s selling, just don’t make the purchase.
God gave you the power to influence the heart or your children. And God designed children to receive from their parents. Use that power and their heart will be yours to mold and shape.
God bless you!
Jim & Shirley Ertel