This month many of us are sending our children and young adults off to school and colleges. As we prepare to do so, we wonder if we’ve done enough to reach, teach and help shape their hearts and minds. One thing that remains steadfast – throughout ALL generations – is that preaching and nagging youth do not work. Kids are people too, so while we must maintain boundaries with our youth, we should also find positive ways to relate to and love them individually. There is no “one size fits all.” Shaping the hearts and minds of our youth requires us to engage with them – frequently and honestly. It requires us to find out “what makes them tick” and use that as an “ice breaker” or common denominator. The goal of parents should not be to become their children’s best friend, but to earn their respect, listen to them, guide them, love them and give them our undivided time and attention, and expect – even demand – the same in return.
Parents naturally love their children, but in our busy lives, it’s sometimes difficult to translate that love into action. One of the most important ways children spell “love” is
T-I-M-E. Spending intentional time with youth helps unlock the heart of a child; they sense whether they are a priority in their parent’s life. None of us is perfect and there are priorities that will sometimes compete with our ability to spend time with our children, but open and honest communication helps foster good, solid relationships with them.
Raising children without boundaries and giving them everything they want often backfires. Many youth raised in this manner, grow up expecting the world to be their oyster and they crack or buckle when they learn that the “real world” can be cold, cruel and callous. They don’t know how to handle failure and disappointment, and more importantly, they may forget to put that spiritual foundation into practice. John 16:33 tells us that “In this world, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Therefore, if we have shaped the hearts and minds of our youth, they should not be surprised; they should know to call upon the Word of God, pray and even seek godly counsel to help get them through life.
Peace and power.
© Dr. Melvin O. Marriner,