There seems to be a running dialogue within conversations and articles recently addressing the subject of parents “losing their kids to the world” when they leave home. While this discussion has been thrown on the table before, the growing number of statistics citing numbers as high as 75% of teens setting their Christian faith aside after graduation is enough to compel any parent do a double take.
I’ll be honest with you–for the last (almost) thirteen years of being a mother, there are nights I’ve lost sleep over this one. A people watcher by nature, witnessing strong, godly parents struggle with a child who has made the decision to turn away from their faith can shake your confidence to the core.
I know what you’re thinking: We can’t parent in fear. Oh, I’ve been there a time or two…okay, A LOT over the years and am in complete agreement with you. I have also grown to understand that there comes a point when our children are responsible for themselves and will make their own choices completely independent of us. I get that.
BUT…in the same way that physical death (say a funeral) has a way of prompting us to consider our mortality–giving perspective to our fleeting earthly life; spiritual death of someone can often bring similar reflection. When I read the statistics and observe the deep sorrow that arises in the “loss” of a child, I feel the desire to reevaluate myself as parent on occasion.
Not doubt–biblical examination–the use of God’s Word (our road map) to make sure my parenting is lining up with scripture.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 — “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
2 Corinthians 13:5 — “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?”
Ends up looking something like this in my mind:
“Test yourself as a parent, Krysta, see if you are in the faith; examine yourself as a parent! Or do you not recognize this about yourself, that Christ Jesus is in the way you parent–unless indeed you fail the test?”
- Am I encouraging my children to know God and make Him known to others? Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Matthew 22:36-38; 2 Timothy 3:14-15 ; John 17:3; Matthew 28:19-20; Matthew 5:16
- Am I providing time for them to be in the Word daily, incorporating scripture as a way of life rather than an “extra”? Deuteronomy 11:18-22; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 3:5-6
- Am I teaching my children to apply God’s Word, handle it properly, and continually helping them develop a Christ-like character? 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 4:13
- Am I raising them to cultivate a faith of their own and carry a biblical worldview? Romans 10:17; 1 Timothy 1:5; Hebrews 11:6; 1 Corinthians 16:13
- Am I showing my children Christ, His unconditional love, and compassion for others through how I live my life? 2 Timothy 1:5; 1 Timothy 4:12; Ephesians 3:17-19; 1 John 4:9-11; Ephesians 4:32
- Am I giving them the tools they need to stand on their own? 2 Peter 1:2-11; Ephesians 6:10-18; Proverbs 1:8-9; Philippians 4:8
- Am I sharing my imperfections as a Christian with them–am I REAL?
Often, I fall short. It’s in those moments of realization that I am all the more thankful for God’s grace and mercy. Do I think I’m a “bad” parent? Absolutely not.
But when I consider the virtue–striving for “moral excellence“–that 2 Peter 1:5 instructs us to add to our faith in order to cultivate a true and living faith, I can’t help but think of the positive impact applying this same principle to my parenting will have.
Virtue within parenting means that we are always seeking to hone our skills and make changes if we need to–never settling with just getting by. (Ouch! My toes are really getting stomped on at this point.)
After many years of contemplating the question from every angle, I still don’t have an answer as to why so many Christian teens are leaving their faith. With endless amounts of books and articles being published on the subject, it’s clear that no one does. We live in a fallen world.
As I look into the eyes of my own sons and ponder their child-like faith, I imagine the day I will release each one of them into the world with these words…
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13
In that moment…that single step in which Will and I hand them back to God as He leads them into a life of service for Him, I pray that as parents we have lived and used His Word everyday of their lives to equip them in the best possible way.
For that is what God has asked of us.
May we as parents find perfection through Christ and may our imperfection be swallowed by God’s grace. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10