Sunday, October 5, 2014

Autumn Grace #5: Nurturing Children in a Tough World

It’s deliciously cool outside on this autumn Sunday morning in Florida, and my 9 and 13 year old daughters are thrilled!  They made me come outside to see for myself and then rewarded me with big warm bear hugs.

We’re all still in our pajamas, but I’ve already been up for a while thinking and writing.

I know how easy it is to get distracted from spiritual things, and I realize even more that when we moms aren’t fervently seeking God ourselves, we aren’t as likely to be attentive to our children’s soul health either.  It starts in our own hearts, doesn’t it? Then on our knees…

It’s not just the unchurched kids or the public school kids who are struggling. It’s a tough life these days, even for kids who have been raised in devout Christian home school families.

I remember once telling one of my daughters (then in high school) how thankful I was for her wholesome friends at church, and she shook her head and said, “Mom, you have no idea what these kids are going through. They are really hurting. Some of them are walking far from God, even though it looks like they are good Christians on the outside.”

So many temptations. So many dark paths. So many masquerades. Yes, we should be “gatekeepers” and be careful about where our kids go, who they hang out with, what they’re seeing on media. However, we are not tight cocoons for our kids, and we’re not supposed to be. Trials will come in the real world, and they need to be equipped to face them.

What can you do? (I’m preaching to myself here, of course.)

Live a life of grace and love – not just saying the words and going through the motions, but letting the Spirit of God flow through you and fill you.

Nurture your children well. Help them trust in a gracious God, with a vibrant sense of wonder at what he has created and what he is doing in the world now. Let them be so full of the genuinely good stuff that there isn’t room for anything else. Encourage them! Let them know how precious they are. Notice the good things they are doing, even the small steps in the right direction. Keep your criticisms fair and few, and your affirmations true and plenty. Have fun with them. Never lose your sense of humor.

Be aware of what’s going on in the world your kids experience, in your home and out. It can be stretching and uncomfortable. I’d rather stay in my little cocoon myself, but I know I can’t help them navigate through this world if I don’t know what’s out there: porn, drugs, alcohol, occult, violence. Research the trends, the issues and pitfalls that teens and tweeners face, what’s happening in pop culture. Be alert for signs of anxiety and depression.

Hold firm to reasonable convictions, but make sure they aren’t just rigid rules. Be gentle and pleasant in communicating your standards. Don’t freak out if they react. If the answer is “no”, be prepared to explain why. (You may need to work it all out in your own head first and anticipate their objections. You might even change your mind.) Be willing to offer positive alternatives and to collaborate with them in finding more options.

Listen to your children long and deep. Don’t ever too busy for this top priority. Treasure the quiet times when they are willing to open their hearts. Let them talk about their own lives and what they are seeing in their peers. Let them share ways they need you to change, even ways you have failed them. They have to know you care, that you won’t be too shocked, that you are at least trying to understand. They have to trust you. It’s not inquisition time or lecture time. It’s love time.

Pray daily and fervently for your family and for friends, for both parents and children.

What to Pray for Yourself as a Parent:
  • A warm and trusting relationship with your children, characterized by healthy and open communication
  • A healthy, cooperative relationship between mom and dad, no matter what the current family structure is
  • Forgiveness and release from bitterness, whether conscious or subconscious
  • Confidence and boldness to lead, even when a child attempts to manipulate or rebel
  • Wisdom to know which battles are worth fighting, and when to let your child make decisions (and face the consequences)
  • That you will be an example of godliness, wisdom, grace, and good humor

What to Pray for Your Children:
  • A heart which personally and fully understands, embraces, and shares the gospel
  • Reverence for God, and a passion to please and serve him
  • Continual filling, anointing, and equipping of the Holy Spirit
  • God-honoring family relationships filled with respect, affection, compassion and cooperation
  • Protection and strength to face moral temptation, cultural pressure, and even dark spiritual forces
  • Repentance and humble acceptance of correction
  • Guidance for decisions about education options, as well as future college and career
  • Maturity to make the right decisions for the right reasons
  • Wise priorities for using time
  • Preparation for marriage and parenting – pray for their future spouses, too!
  • Ask your children how you can pray for them!

Praying the Scriptures:

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

“…We have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” Colossians 1:9-12

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:22-23

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things… When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 11

(See also Ephesians 1:17-21 & 3:14-21 / Romans 15:5-6, 13 / 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 & 5:23-24 / 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 & 3:1-5 / 2 Peter 1:2-11) 

More reading? 

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles


  1. This world is much tougher for today's kids. I'm so thankful for the Holy Spirit that helps to guide me in raising my kids in this time.

    Thanks for such a great post.

  2. I love how you said to listen to your children long and deep. I think about cultivating the relationship now with our 1 1/2 year old that will enable her to be open with me. I never felt I could be open with my own parents, and thanks be to God that I was following close to Him on my own. But the relationship with the parents is key, I wish I had had that!
    Thank you for linking up with WYWW :)

  3. Stasia, I don't always do this! I am reminding myself more than anyone.

  4. I'm already struggling with "this world is so crazy" and my daughter is only 2.5yrs old. Thank you for the reminder to pray for her and not just try to hid under a rock. ;) I was never a worrier or a dweller until I had a kid. :)

    (Visiting from Capture Your Journey link-up and pinning so I can remember this again in the future. :) )

  5. Great post. This a great reminder to seek the Lord in our parenting!