I’ve only been a parent for a little over a year now. Please keep in mind, this article doesn’t come at all from my experience as a parent. That would be like me writing about how to repair a Formula 1 race car. Sure, I’ve worked on cars, but I’ve got zero expertise in that area. Instead, this article is coming from my experience working with kids as a children’s pastor. A lot of times, this helps because it’s often easier to see problems from the outside looking in. So what are some of the most dangerous parenting mistakes that your children’s leaders see? Take a look at these three, and then join up next week to see three more!
Using your children as a weapon
Yes, I know that Psalm 127:4 tells us that children are like arrows. That does not mean what I am talking about here. Instead, I have seen far too many times a parent use a child as a weapon against something they don’t like. At worst, I’ve heard about parents coaching their kids to accuse adults of sexual abuse. But the more common list that I have seen is below. Have you done these?
- Using kids against an ex-spouse, such as talking badly about their other parent to them or around them?
- Using kids against church leaders, telling them not to trust them?
- Using kids against people you perceive as enemies, even using your kids to confront them?
Surely we can see how incredibly dangerous this is. Not only are the people in these situations creating a sense of distrust in people, but they are also teaching their kids that gossip, slander, and ridicule are OK. That can’t be done. If you’ve got someone that your child needs to distrust, go about it the right way.
I tend to get more frustrated with parents treating their kids with apathy than almost anything else. I really don’t have to talk about why not caring about and for your kids is dangerous, do I? Apathy can come about in many ways. I’ve seen kids come in the doors with shoes and clothes that are drastically too small, kids that have to do everything themselves for school, and kids that have to fend for themselves to eat. Apathy can also manifest itself spiritually. Do you believe that it is the church’s role to take over the primary role in forming your child spiritually? Do you allow the church to be the only spiritual discussion your child hears during the week? Make sure you’re not becoming apathetic to your child’s spiritual growth. Keep in mind, not doing these things doesn’t necessarily mean you’re apathetic to your child’s spiritual growth. It could be that you just don’t know the best place to start, or haven’t made it a priority. Not caring is very different from not doing. If you care, but just don’t know how, please let me know! I’d be glad to help out.
Disrespect of the local church
The local church has always been “Plan A” to reach the lost. God endorsed it himself. So when we attack the church, we attack the thing that God is using to reach people most effectively. Now, for our kids, we can “attack” the local church in various ways. No matter how private you think you are about it, your kids do notice. And at the end of the day, the way your child sees you treat church shapes the way they will treat God.
- Gossiping about other churches
- Sowing seeds of dissent within your current church
- Treating churches as “disposable” (church-hopping)
- Treating church as a backup plan (We’ll go to church if we’re not doing anything else)
Stay tuned for next week when I follow up with the next three!