In reading through a recent radio blog post, “Entrusted with a Child’s Heart,” from the radio ministry hosted by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (of “Revive our Hearts” ministry), I found the following excerpt incredibly helpful and practical:
“Betsy Corning: The heart is depraved, and just isolating it is not going to work with the depravity of heart. So we have to figure out how are we going to deal with these things knowing even by accident our children are going to get exposed to things we absolutely in our hearts would never want them to know or see.
Nancy: How are you thinking through the process of guarding your children’s hearts, protecting them, but also not isolating them?
Gina: We had a really interesting season of every method of schooling, which directly bears upon how much they get exposed to different things at different ages. And the Lord is so gracious to show me the pros and cons of each: public education, private education, and home schooling.
It was a really big fear or a concern because no one really had the right balance or answers. And it is different for each family. But having this dichotomy of two sets of children, I realized the TV really cannot even be on with even innocent shows that are on basic TV without me being aware of what’s on. Even cartoons and things that you would think are harmless, they promote messages that are so subtle that are really anti-Christian and anti-Bible…
Sometimes parents give too many choices to their children. “Do you want A, B, C, D, or E?” Well, one of the best things that I learned from Betsy years ago was you don’t need to overwhelm them with so many choices and put them in the driver’s seat all the time. It’s nice to maybe give them maybe two choices if it is age appropriate and that just really helped me to refine what our goals are for our family…
Betsy: I think a big part in here is that when your child does encounter evil, and we have taught them what evil is—what the world is and how it is counter to the things of God—that they flee. They need to learn to flee temptation. But then they also need to internally decide how they manage those things. Sometimes they need to just learn how to repent of those things and turn away. But a key is to build self-control in their life but not just an outward behavioral self-control, it has to be an inward rendering, surrendering to the Lord.
It says, “I will set no abominable thing before my eyes.” It’s just when children grow up with these lessons, when they encounter those things, they know that they have a way back to the Lord through repentance. And other times they need to recognize evil and just say, “I flee from that.” Then to be able to come and tell their parents because they’ll have this connection with their parents, hopefully, that they can talk to them about.
I think the big thing is really to have a connection between parent and child. You have to have family standards set up when your children are really young so they don’t think that you are just being so mean and blocking them off from everything their friends are doing. So it’s just really important.
Nancy: How important is it to let your children, as they become teenagers say, express what they’re thinking and what they’re feelings are about the rules, the boundaries, the policies of your family? How much do you let them engage with you on that?…
Betsy: Well, initially, mom and dad have to decide those standards and stick by those standards. This would be age-appropriate because maybe your response to that to a ten-year-old is going to be completely different than to an eighteen-year-old, where you’re going to say, “You know, we understand this. We want to see what kind of wise choices you make.”
Nancy: But you certainly don’t just start that at age eighteen…
Betsy: No, you start that really between the ages of five and twelve when we are giving them some leeway to see how they respond.
Nancy: So you let them start making some decisions?
Betsy: Yes, but when it’s your family personal convictions and standards, that’s a completely different story. You and your husband decide, “This is what our family is about.” And you stick to them. In fact, I say, I put my fingers together like this and I say, “Dad and I are like this. This is what we’ve decided.” And you really have to hold tight to those because kids will challenge those every step of the way, and you can’t be wavering on those. I would say that is really a different story than guiding children by influences of choices that they are making for their lives and you are teaching them wisdom.
This is the matter of personal convictions you have for your family—sort of some standards that you have. This is the wonderful thing about kids. You’re going to watch your children and find out, “Are they internalizing these things for themselves?” And that’s what we call owning their faith.”
To listen/read this radio program in its entirety, simply click here.