Monday, March 13, 2017

Praying for My Kids Leads to Me Praying for Your Kids

I prayed for my kids today. I prayed that they would avoid or rise above the tools, the jerks, the mean kids that populate our schools. As I prayed I wondered where those kids come from. What is their home life? What makes them tick?

Then I prayed that my own kids would not be the type of kids I was praying for their protection from. 
You see, if we accept the fact that we're all sinners, then we have to accept that our own little angels might not always be angels. There is no one righteous. We all needed the sacrifice of Jesus for our salvation. That mean that each of us need strength to not be the reason another person has to endure.

For awhile, way back when I first had a child of my own, I assumed these monsters grew under rocks and were the spawn of some wild dingoes that were allowed to integrate into regular society. 

But then Jennifer and I had a second child. And we encouraged them to play together. That is, until we didn't. There were moments when we suddenly felt more like pro wrestling referees than the parents of two (mostly) normal children.

Then we had a third child.... wooo boy!

So that is why I prayed for my kids and your kids. But when we're done praying, how can parents help their children to fulfill these prayers?

Remind them how they feel...

That's right, the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. I know, pointing this out means admitting our kids aren't perfect. It might mean receiving eye rolls from them as they smell another lecture coming their way. But since much of how teenagers behave is based on their emotions, it might be a good idea to keep them focused on how they feel when they are mistreated. 

If you remember the pain you felt when you run full steam into an electric fence (it was an accident, I swear) then you won't likely do that again. Unless, of course, you're attempting to drive traffic to your YouTube channel. Likewise, if your teens remember the pain of being mistreated, it might help them to treat others better. 

I believe most Christian teenagers don't start out looking to hurt others. It happens because they forget. Or they simply don't have a plan for dealing with real life situations. So... 

Discuss situations with them that often come up. Let them brainstorm.
Failing to plan is planning to fail. And since teenagers, like most of us, want to be a part of solving their own problems, we should tap into their own creative solutions. 

Jerks have existed since all of us were in school, even if our teenagers believe we used tablets made of stone for our schoolwork. Tap into some of your own repressed memories of bullies. Use some stories to discuss resolutions. At this point, your good stories help and your horror stories are funny. Oh, and they can relate what not to do. 

If the remember how they feel and they go in with a plan, many of our prayers will be answered. But don't let that stop you from committing to #3.

Continue to pray.
As my teenagers like to remind me whenever we are discussing the pitfalls of watching anything PG-13, 'Dad, we're hearing a lot worse than that in our schools.'

It's not exactly comforting, but it does remind me that they are not sheltered in a church service, or even a setting where everyone is expected to act like an adult. They are in public school, a place where I intentionally send them, knowing public education doesn't just come from teachers.

Now go and pray.

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