This is absolute best we’ve discovered in the rapidly growing tragedy of Christian families losing their children and grandchildren to Satan’s perverted world, or the perverted carnal church system. We see this at work in our own family. I personally made several of these mistakes with my own son, and learned too late. You don’t have to I pray.
Twenty five years ago, at the growing church I attended, teenagers were having sex in the back of the church building. Of course, the lead pastor I told refused to believe it, even after I told him I was hit on by two married church leaders (one an elder) for homosexual sex. Both leaders are now gone from the church and their families and fully engaged in that lifestyle.
Think it can’t happen to you? Think again. Watch, read, and get to work. Let’s take our heads out of the sand. Become prepared. Satan is focused and relentless. Are you? Michael is an expert in this and gives practical how-to’s to help avoid being the next statistic. This is riveting. I have both resources, but get the DVD if you can only afford one. Be careful of some of brother Michael’ s high testosterone “make them eat sand – kill your enemies” style. But overall, this is a startling wake up call.
By: Michael Pearl of No Greater Joy Ministries
The homeschool movement has matured to the point that we now have a large pool of graduates from which to survey our successes and failures, and to modify our course accordingly. The first wave, in their late twenties to early thirties, are now married and have children of their own. There are many success stories among them.
Success can be measured by tangible or visible achievement, such as the many attorneys, doctors, scientists, teachers, and statesmen who are now making a difference in the world and in the lives of the individuals they touch. But success is best measured by the emotional stability and spiritual perspective that homeschooled young people have carried into their marriages.
Regardless of the prestige of their vocations, we have a new generation of godly parents, not having been tainted by the world. They are now building heavenly marriages and raising a fresh new breed of stable, godly children. While the public school system continues to degenerate into a drug-stupid, sex-oriented, illiterate morass of misfit, Marxist clones, the homeschool movement is producing intelligent, clear-thinking, confident citizens ready to stand in the middle of cascading corruption and declare their allegiance to God and family.
However, not all homeschoolers become success stories. A few fail to measure up fully, while a small percentage fail miserably. Not all homeschool families create themselves equally. Homeschool children are the product of their parents and the culture they provide. There is nothing magical about homechooling itself. It is just a context in which to conduct parenting without interference from humanistic government and the influence of contemporary cultures, which are causing the “devil-lution” of society.
When parents choose to homeschool, they are choosing to become the primary example and the prevailing culture for their children. They are “cloning” their worldview—an enormous commitment of responsibility before God.
However, there are two problems. In the first place, some parents are not always good stock for “cloning”. The world doesn’t need more people “just like them.” Secondly, and this will be the main point of our present discussion, there is nothing easy or automatic about culture cloning. You cannot take it for granted that your children are going to adopt your perspective on life. It takes serious commitment and wisdom to duplicate your heart and soul in your children. There was a time, many years ago, when the community life (church, school, the extended family, friends and neighbors) all pointed the children in the right direction–a godly direction.
Sometimes when parents failed to be good trainers and examples, their deficiency was rectified by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and the local church, around which all social life revolved. But no more. The average church today will send your children to hell as fast as the local video rental store. Community life has gone the way of the old familiar front porch and grandma sitting there shelling beans. Today, you have to be on guard for your uncles and cousins, who may attempt to molest your children. Our present culture is scary enough to send a family packing to the Amazon, taking their chances with drug lords, anacondas, and malaria.
We are receiving far too many letters from parents who tell us that their older children, 15 to 18 years old, are jumping ship, bailing out, changing sides, looking for the meaning of life on the other side of the tracks. Parents are shocked. They tell us, “I kept them from the TV. We homeschooled and homechurched, were careful to only meet with families of like mind. We taught them the Word of God and protected them from evil influences, but the first chance they got to join the world’s parade, they did so without hesitation.” One woman wrote and told us that she discovered that her two teenage homeschooled boys had been engaging in sodomy since they were young. Another family discovered that every one of their children were engaging in group incest in the first degree.
Children everywhere are finding ways to access pornography on the web. One kid was slipping into his neighbor’s house when they were gone. A sixteen-year-old girl ran away and shacked up with a druggie. In two years, she was a drunk and a drug addict with a child and a broken jaw where her shiftless man busted her one for sassing him. When one family discovered that their children were engaged in incest, the mother and father stopped going to church and took up drinking themselves.
The whole family went to hell with an “I don’t care” attitude. One of the girls wrote to us to decry their shameful condition. She told how the family had done devotionals every day and did not watch TV. They did all the “right things”, but it just did not take with the kids. She got saved after getting married and having three children, and then became concerned for the rest of her family, especially her lesbian sister.
I know this is depressing to you. It has depressed me to write it, but you need to be forewarned. So the question I seek to answer is, “What can I do to ensure that my children do not jump ship when they get to be 16 or 18 years old?” Let me reframe the question a few times, and then see if you catch a hint of what the answer will be.
What can I do to be sure that my children are actually embracing the values that we teach?
What can I do to prepare my children to resist the temptations of the world?
How can I impart a knowledge of good and evil to my children that will cause them to choose the good?
How can I forewarn and forearm my children without taking away their innocence?
How can I cause them to love righteousness and hate iniquity?
How can I cause them to be patient and wait for the spouse God has prepared for them?
It is hard to communicate with many of you because you have been blinded by the “religion”. Even now as you read this, you think I am talking about someone else. You are confident that your family is secure in Bible principles and religious devotion. You have given them a “packaged Christianity” and isolated them from any outside influences, and you are confident that they are safe behind the fence.
There are two problem areas that you must consider. The first one is your own example. You must be all that you want your children to be. You can’t drive teenagers; you must lead them. That will be the first point of our discussion. Second, you must not assume that innocence is a hedge. The enemy is not always on the “outside” of your home. There is a big enough and bad enough enemy within the flesh of your own children to scare an angel to death. A child who never even heard of sex of any kind, never saw an example, never has been tempted by any outside source, can discover it on his own and then engage in incest.
Genuinely good families who provide righteous examples, can have their children go to hell right in the middle of their carefully constructed and properly maintained sanctuary. While a father and mother are standing guard at the gate that leads out into the world, children of Adam’s descent can build their own Sodom from scratch, right under the best example that loving, careful, attentive parents can provide.
For starters, you must sell your children on your worldview. It must be an active and aggressive sell. They cannot be fooled with pretense. By the time a kid is sixteen years old, he will know you better than you know yourself. Teenagers are forming their values based on what they see as valuable. No one can give another person his values. Generally, everyone values what promises to fulfill his deepest desires. If the thing you offer your children does not appeal to them, they will reject it, as they should.
Why would anyone choose a path that appears to lead to misery, boredom, or loneliness? How can someone value what is of no value? Teenagers want romance and passion. Girls want tenderness and security with their passion. Boys want a challenge. They must be engaged in conquest. Everyone needs a vision and the means to fulfill it. The quest for goodness and productivity is not enough to contain a sixteen-year-old. Duty and respectability will likely not be their controlling drives.
Many families have a tradition of being “good Christian people.” They are hard- working, honest, and respectable. They choose to live a “good life” and avoid the consequences of sin, and so they expect their children to see the wisdom of this lifestyle and choose it for themselves. They attribute their good lifestyle to their religious convictions. They could never even imagine that their children would choose a low-class life of shameful sin.
Parents make the mistake of thinking that their “good life” is a recommendation for the Christian life, but a “good life” can be lived by anyone of any religion, or by an atheist, for that matter, as observation so easily attests. There are Sodomites in the public schools who are happier than some Christians. There are fornicators and adulterers who love each other more than some Christian parents.
The movies represent evil people as full of life and fun. Video games, bursting with big-busted women and powerful young men slaying their adversaries, provide the boys with the conquest they need. A trip to the mall reveals to the young person that there is a lot of “loving fun” over on the other side. What have you got that is better? How do they know it to be so? You’d better believe it right now that they won’t for a moment buy an “old fogy’s” argument.
There are actually only two kinds of lives lived on this planet. The “natural life” whether in doing evil or doing good, or somewhere in between, and the “Jesus life,” which is much more than a life of doing or being good. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). The Jesus life is an abundant life of joy and love. It is a life of honesty, judgment, and sacrificial service.
There is no hypocrisy in the Jesus life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…” (Galatians 5:22-23). Peter says, “ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory…” (1 Peter 1:8). Do your children know you as a person who rejoices with “joy unspeakable”, and do they see your life as being “full of glory”? Then, what have you got to offer your kids that will hold them to your worldview? How is the life you have chosen better than any other? Prove it to them without joy, and you will have done the preposterous.
A “good” life without any passion is not worth repeating. Love is always passionate. So is joy and peace. Longsuffering is passionate in its quiet reserve, taking into consideration the needs and feelings of others. Gentleness and goodness are virtues that point to God like a big red arrow. Faith is as lovely as a cherub’s wings. Meekness never allows others to feel inferior, and temperance is the ultimate demonstration of the power of God in one’s life. The fruit of the Spirit is attractive indeed. Teenagers are attracted to attractive people.
If their parents are unattractive, they will fix their admiring gaze on someone who is attractive. A light-hearted spirit of joy and praise is attractive to everyone. Religious convictions worn only on the shirtsleeves are about as attractive as a man sneezing in your face.
The problem is that teenagers are not wise in discerning the difference between true joy and cheap laughter. But, they can easily discern when their parents don’t have any joy at all. And then, they come across a person of the world who is light-hearted and full of fun. What do you expect them to do? They don’t see the cynicism and rebellion behind the feigned joy. They just know that, for the first time in their lives, they have found a context for their passion. When they are with those kinds of people, they feel alive. They suddenly have hope that life is not always going to be dull and boring.
They find unconditional acceptance with the people of darkness, and since they have never really experienced God’s love, they think this is the love they have always missed. They will walk away from their miserable parents and right into the Devil’s den without any doubt that they have finally found true meaning in life. They are indeed fools, but their parents were foolishly naïve enough to believe that their teenagers would be content to accept the middle-of-the-road, principled but passionateless religion that never brought a shred of joy.
Parents’ ability to communicate their worldview to their children is mostly bound up in their personal relationship to each other. If Mother and Father have a romance that is visible, a joy that is uncontained, and a passion that is enviable, their children will want to travel the same road in hopes of reaping the same fruit in their own lives.Following is just one example of many letters we have received.
We know a family who homeschool their children and have been used by ministries as an example of a model Christian family. Their oldest son just jumped ship. He has a wild tattoo, pierced his ears, and dyed his hair. Besides his bizarre looks, he is totally rebellious. I must admit his jumping ship left me shaken until I read your article, and then I could see what led to his demise. His parents are fretful folks, always worried about spending money, the state of the country, or the evil influence of the neighbors or church. The last word I would ever use to describe them is joyful. Their relationship seems strained. If I were a child, I would not want to live with that family. I think that is a pretty good gauge to check myself with.
In our last issue, we addressed a growing concern: far too many homeschool kids are jumping ship at the first opportunity, throwing their Christian teaching to the wind and joining the world’s parade to hell. The first crop of homeschoolers has matured; the fruit is ripe; the time of reaping has come. It is not the day of judgment, but to many parents it feels akin to the Great Tribulation. Parents are seeing their own flesh and blood take on characteristics of the enemy. This is not a surprise to many of us.
We have seen it coming for many years, predicted it in our writings, warned parents that carefully constructed religious teaching and withdrawal from worldliness were not enough. The fences parents build are able to constrain children when they are young, but the time comes, around sixteen to eighteen years of age, when the kids have the power to choose and act for themselves. Every parent holds his breath. It reminds me of a verse found in Joel 3:14: “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.”
Where can a family go to save their children? Escaping from the world is like escaping from your own skin. While we peer behind us, hoping to have eluded the enemy, we discover that he is standing in our shoes. Many Christian families have been very careful to protect their children, only to discover that the devil is in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and even in the sex organs of a thirteen-year-old.
Many parents have had their faith shaken. “We didn’t watch television or associate with sinners; we taught our children Christian principles; why didn’t it work?” It is almost as though Christians are believing the leftist propaganda that environment and heredity are the factors that determine a person’s behavior. Parents seem to believe that they can condition their children into being good Christians by protecting them and teaching Christian principles. Reality has proven that old premise to be false: “Save them from corrupt influences, and they will never corrupt.”
The old theology had a lot of truth in it after all. The fallen sons of Adam, in every generation, have the inherent capability and propensity to recreate sin, even in the protected vacuum of a Christian home. Children do not need to be exposed to “bad people” to do bad things. The children of Christians are not exempt from the lure of the flesh. Innocence is not a protective hedge, as we know by the example of Adam and Eve.
Christian character cannot be transmitted at birth, or passed on as a family heritage. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10-12, 23).
Enough! This is depressing. What of the Scripture that promises “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6)? It is still true and has proven so in the experience of tens of thousands of kids who have gone on to become stable, hard-working, righteous children of God who are now starting their own families and are already seeing blessed third-generation fruit.
We hear it often, “I did train them, but it did not work.” The key is in the word “train.” Not just any training will do, and that is what this ministry is all about. Biblical and practical teaching is what God has called us to, training up parents to train up their children so when they get older they will not depart from it.
We will now turn to practical teaching, most of which we have said or written before, but this will be the most direct, condensed, pointed discussion to date on these issues. We cannot complete the discussion in this publication, but we will continue it in future issues. Before discussing several of the concepts, we will first give a summary of all the points that we will discuss in this and coming publications. The many points to be made are framed in somewhat of a parable.
The Family Cruise
Every family is a ship with a captain, a crew, and sometimes passengers and cargo. It may be a pleasure liner, a research vessel, a boatload of pilgrims headed to a new city, a mercy ship, a cargo vessel seeking riches, or a stinking old tub hanging around port. There are many ships leaving port, each with its own captain, crew, cargo, and passengers.
Every ship has a purpose or destination before it leaves port; all on board are participants, regardless of the degree of their commitment, their lives affected by the passage and the destination. No ship is alone. Others are sailing nearby, and the crew becomes acquainted with many ships and their crews. In each port, there is a mingling and exchange of news and gossip. Every crew member is always weighing the possibilities and deciding if he is on the best ship.
No ship is an island unto itself. If a captain were to simply anchor offshore to avoid the corruption of society and to prevent his crew members from being tempted to switch ships, the hands would become very discontent. The ship must be going somewhere with a meaningful purpose, otherwise the crew would not long tolerate the drudgery of their daily duties. There is no romance in simply retreating, in seeking one’s own survival. The thrill of life is in the conquest of the obstacles of life.
Many fathers/captains are afraid of failure, so they go nowhere and do nothing but seek to stay afloat just outside the influence of other ships. The crew of a self-quarantined ship will stand at the rail and longingly watch other ships sail past to destinations unknown. They know that those ships going someplace, any place, are certainly more interesting than the stagnant calm in which they must exist. Younger kids will wish for something different, but fear and insecurity will keep them at the rail. However, there will come a day when they can swim well enough to risk going overboard to catch a ride on a passing vessel.
To keep kids from jumping ship and booking passage to a different port, they must have confidence that their ship is going somewhere, sailing to a port that offers tremendous possibilities. They should be able to stand up there on the bow and imagine the great new world to which they are sailing. They must have an exciting vision of great things to come and a hope of being significant in the coming events.
They must have a sense of mission, a full understanding of the history of their captain’s and ship’s endeavor. They should be familiar with those who have gone before and made to know that they are needed to carry on the worthy tradition. Only then will they endure the hardships of the voyage without crumbling under the burden of daily, monotonous routine.
They must feel that their voyage (and their part in it) is primarily a means of service to others, and that the boat and those on it are not the final end. Without a moral sense that comes from dedicating one’s life to service, they cannot have great courage and fortitude. The sense of moral rightness that comes from serving others is a driving force that will not accept defeat. It gives courage and fortitude.
The ship must be provisioned with entertainment, although the crew will not be satisfied simply being entertained passengers. The very essence of the ship must lie in its purpose, a mission beyond a simple pleasure cruise. They will not be satisfied being nothing more than cargo. They must feel needed as a vital crew member, not just a passenger.
They must be learning to pilot the ship. They should be made to know that they are in training to become a captain of their own ship and that they can be trusted with real responsibility.
They must taste of the glory and the triumph from time to time. They must be kept on the edge of expectancy.
There must be authority on the ship that provides security and promotes admiration. There is nothing more emotionally dissatisfying to young people than disorganization, lack of a top commander who is decisive, resolute, even hard and unyielding at times, but always accessible. The ship must have one authority that is respected. If the chief officer is subversive and disrespectful, it will cause the crew to commit mutiny or to abandon ship in some promising port.
It should be well known that the ship, though seeming alone most of the time, is part of a large armada, all traveling to the same location for the same great purpose. The ship and its crew should be in contact with other ships of the line who share the same destination. The crew should never be left with a feeling of isolation.
Every person on board must know that the captain is answerable to a higher commander who holds the power of life and death. The crew must be caused to fear the higher powers, including their captain.
The captain must conduct himself with dignity, integrity, and honor if he is to maintain the respect of his crew. Yet he must be approachable, willing to work harder and serve more diligently than they all.
The captain must be willing to mete out discipline when it is called for. He cannot vacillate or be squeamish in his role as commander.
Weathering storms together and overcoming adversity are not things to decry, for they create a bond between the officers and the crew.
The ship must be maintained in such a manner that every person on board takes pride in his ship.
Now let’s give closer attention to the first three paragraphs in our parable. The third paragraph sums up our present subject. We state it again.
To keep kids from jumping ship and booking passage to a different port, they must have confidence that the ship is going somewhere, to a port that offers tremendous possibilities. They should be able to stand up on the bow and imagine the new world out there to which they are sailing. They must be given an exciting vision of great things to come and a hope of being significant in the coming events.
Children are, after all, people—unfinished adults, full of untested passions and expectations. They are experiencing many new drives and pleasures. I remember when I was a child, the world into which I was growing was exciting and wonderful. I felt like a kid at one of those carnivals where admission is five dollars and you can ride everything as many times as you want.
At ten years of age, I wanted to eat one whole fried chicken and two chocolate pies all by myself (in one sitting), with no one there to stop me. I wanted a girl of my own to smell and touch. I wanted a boat to sail, and a gun and all the shells I could shoot. I wanted a truck so I could go places and see wonderful things. I dreamed of painting pictures and building structures out of lumber and metal. I wanted to touch everything and own two of them.
As I got a little older and came to know the Lord as my personal savior, I developed new passions. I wanted to change the world and to make everybody do right, which included wanting to convert sinners to Christ. By the time I was eighteen years old, I wanted to straighten out my parents, my church, and all my siblings. I still wanted a girl of my own to smell and touch, but by then I had decided that I also wanted one who could talk to me and listen to my ideas about changing the world. I was now down to two pieces of pie and only half of a chicken. Today, I want two pieces of chicken, and I pass up the pie.
I got that girl when I was twenty-five. I still touch and smell her, and she listens to my ideas and I to hers. We talk long hours about the needs of others and what we can do to help. We have not changed the world, but we have dedicated ourselves to the task. Life has been richer than I could have ever imagined.
Now, you may think that this is just an old man reminiscing. Maybe so, but listen carefully to his musings, for I am going someplace very important to you with this line of thought. Today I took Laura Rose, not yet three, down to the sawmill to help me debark some trees in preparation for sawing. She picked up the tool and grunted dutifully while she dug at the bark.
When a slab of bark broke loose and fell away from the log, she was delighted with her power. She was helping Big Papa. She was important. She is not a passenger on a pleasure liner. She is part of the crew. When she comes into the house, Deb doesn’t send her into the playroom. She is not even interested in the big box of toys that we keep for the kids. She wants to put clothes in the laundry, wash the dishes, mop the floor, fix dinner for Big Papa, or any constructive chore that Deb is doing at the time.
He loves my Kubota tractor, especially when operating the front-end loader. While he is doing manual work, he keeps his eye on the tractor. If I let him drive it about once every hour to go get a tool or to move a log, I can keep him doing the boring chores with enthusiasm. He loves to operate a chain saw, weed eater, or any power tool. He has been eyeing my red truck—no, not yet! He is too uncoordinated.
You can’t just use kids as a source of labor. They will not be happy being nothing more than domestic servants onboard your ship. You must, from time to time, with some supervision, let them do the navigation and pilot the ship. I keep the kids in my charge on the cutting edge of experience, never allowing things to stay boring for long. If we are moving sawdust, and I make him do the shoveling but don’t allow him to drive the tractor, he will soon become dissatisfied.
But, if he gets to dump the bucket of sawdust after loading it, he is content to rake the sawdust out from under the sawmill and put it in the front-end loader, just so he can drive the tractor a mere 150 feet to dump it. You can’t just drive kids; you have to let them steer. Even Laura Rose thinks she is driving the tractor while sitting on my lap with her hands on the wheel.
There are many other things kids can do besides driving a tractor. Give a boy the tools and knowledge to disassemble electronics, and, hopefully, someday reassemble them, and he will love the ship he is on. Give a teenager a job that pays money, and then let him spend it as he pleases, and he will not be leaning over the bow envying others. If you keep your kids on the cutting edge of experience, they will feel sorry for those who do not have their captain and are not on their ship. They will never jump ship. It’s the greatest!
Kids must be able to stand up on that bow and imagine the world to come. This thirteen-year-old boy is building a list of hopes, a vision for the future. He wants to be somebody, do things, go places, live life with a bang. He is developing role models, and I seek to be prominent among them. He has a fine father whom he admires, who does things with him. He is on a different ship, but our ships are running a parallel course, his father and I sailing to the same destination. For a little while our paths cross, and I, among others, reinforce the values his father is teaching him. He is developing confidence that there is hope in his circle; that his dreams can find fulfillment on the ship his father is piloting. This young man will not jump ship if he is confident that the ship he is on is going to deliver him to the shore of his dreams.
If you have a seventeen-year-old whom you treat as a passenger, not allowing him to take significant responsibility, not listening to or instituting his ideas, he will not be content on your ship. He already thinks he is smarter than you are. The only way to prove that he is not, is to go along with some of his ideas until they fail; and when they do fail, act surprised and encourage him to try again. Never say, “I told you so.” If he is to grow, he must experiment, resulting in both failure and success. Until a man has failed, there is no steel in his bones. Just be thankful that you can be there to facilitate and supervise his endeavors.
As my boys got into their later teens, I found that upon occasion they did have fresh ideas that were better than my “old fashioned” way of doing things. The first time a father backs up on his own position and admits that his son is right, is a time of incomparable bonding and trust. The boy will become happier and more content than you have seen him since he got his first shotgun. And you will find him more willing to respect your wisdom when it is manifest.
My boys and I often discussed issues and concepts: politics, philosophy, science, war, the Bible, human nature, rocks, plants, construction. Anything you can think of, we talked about it. I respected their opinions, even when I disagreed with them. As they got into their middle and later teens, I could see a growing desire to beat me at anything.
I remember challenging my daddy to arm wrestling until I could finally beat him. I didn’t really want to put him down; I just wanted his respect, for him to appreciate that I was a man. I never “let” my boys beat me at anything. When Gabriel was about nineteen or twenty years old, six foot five, I beat him wrestling. Made him eat sand. It was a great feeling—a measure of my manhood. I am afraid that now I could no longer take him wrestling. I acknowledge his strength. Both the boys now run circles around me in math. When we are figuring house plans, there is no question but that I yield to their figures. It doesn’t keep me from trying to catch them in an error. That always helps make my day.
I am making a point about the nature of children, especially boys. My boys are just like I was when I was young. Your boys are just like mine. This drive to be respected, to be recognized as a force to be reckoned with, is born in boys, but it takes control when they go through puberty. If your ship provides an outlet for your sons to express themselves as apprentice captains, if they see hope that they will not always be just labor on the lower decks, they will stay on your ship with hope of greater things to come.
I see many fathers and mothers resisting their sons’ drive to be in control. They are resisting a tsunami. A boy’s drive to conquer, lead, and control is inevitable. If you are successful in crushing it in a fourteen or fifteen-year-old, and if you can keep him docile and sweet, you have destroyed his manhood. It is a truly sad thing to observe.
Here is where my stories are going. Children who are treated as passengers and not crew members will not be content on or in their ship. Laura Rose is never a child who is “in the way.” The thirteen-year-old boy I’ve talked about is not just a spectator, told to do his schoolwork, to be quiet, and to stay out of the way until he grows up. He is a man. He is a crew member. When he is with me, I am not just using him; I am training him to be the pilot of a ship, just as Deb is training Laura Rose to be a wife and mother.
Kids who see a path to the fulfillment of their dreams will stay the course through difficult times. They will trust those who have trusted them with positions of responsibility, those who were patient, who taught, encouraged, listened to their dreams and assured them of success. Believing in your children is not a sentiment, nor is it just so many words; it is trusting them with responsibility.
When a kid feels good about himself because he has triumphed, and you are the one who made it possible, who stood by him, encouraged him, put the rod and reel into his little unbelieving hands, showed him how to make something, how to use the tools, put the key in his hand, taught him how to fly and then stood on the ground and beamed with joy while he soloed, he will always want to be on the ship you are on. He will want to be on the ship that your friends are on. He will want to be part of the armada that is sailing to a city which has foundations whose builder and maker is God.
Boys/Men were created by God to exercise dominion and to subdue.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26-28). See also Psalm 8:1-6 and Hebrews 2:7-8.
According to the passages above, it is in the very nature of the male to rule in power and glory. It is God’s nature to subdue and exercise dominion, and he put that same nature into man. A man or a boy who does not seek to conquer, rule, and subdue is outside the will of God. Many mothers have never figured this one out. It is especially troublesome where a family has birthed and raised three sweet girls before they ever have a son.
Mother naturally expects him to be like the girls in personality and temperament. If she tries to force him into the subdued, sensitive role, she will meet with failure, either because he rebels and tries to conquer her, which is his nature, or because she is actually successful in turning him into a sissy, in which case she is the bigger failure.
Many fathers are themselves insecure. They never got to the place to where they felt like they had conquered anything. A man’s most rewarding conquest is his woman. If she idolizes him, he will be able to go on and conquer and subdue kingdoms, but if she rebels, he will never be satisfied and may become bitter and reckless and selfish in his pursuit of dominion. Such a father will resist his sons’ awakening drives to exercise dominion. He feels threatened by his sons. When a son challenges him, he takes it personally.
The father is desperate to conquer and subdue. For a little while, when his son was four to eight years old, father was the big dog, the conqueror; suddenly, the only little kingdom the father ever ruled was now seeking independence, and he fights it with all his emotion. That father will create a bitter, rebellious teenager. Most movies about teenagers assumes this attitude to be the norm.
It is a confident father who can be proud of his sons’ growing independence. I raised my children as if I would be dead and no longer an influence in their lives before they were grown. I raised them with the knowledge that they could be removed from my home by the state government at any time. I taught them self-reliance and independence from the very start. I made sure they knew Bible doctrine, understood the fallacies of evolution and the so-called social sciences to the best of their developing abilities.
The greatest triumph of a teacher is when he is bested by his students. I was at a knife-throwing tournament recently where the expert, high scorer, bragged that he was recently beaten by one of his students. To some fathers, it is a pain to see their sons become capable of pulling away and sailing their own ships. But to the expert knife thrower, it was an added brag that he not only was the champion thrower, he was also the champion teacher.
I say again, your children must have hope that they are on the best ship to prepare them to be captains themselves. They must be challenged at all times, made to feel worthy by the triumphs they experience.
You must provide the tools and opportunity for your boys to subdue. I remember one day after hard work, my boys decided they wanted to dig a cave in the ridge beside the house. Two of their friends joined them. Four boys between the ages of ten and fourteen, dug out five yards of rocky soil in about two hours. It was a mammoth task.
If I had made them do it for some valid reason, it would have taken them three or more grudging days, but when they were working toward their own vision, it was all play. Do you understand boys? Do you really understand men? That piece of hard ground had been lying there in defiance ever since Noah’s flood. It needed to be taught a lesson. It needed to be conquered, subdued, made to serve them. They beat it. They won. They benefited greatly.
A boy takes a BB gun out and stalks helpless, little, pretty birds all day long. Finally, he kills one. He plucks out the prettiest and longest feathers and sticks them in his hat. “…dominion over the birds of the air…”
I remember as a boy I loved to go down to the ditch that ran under the road close to the house, and there I would fish for crawfish. There was a pool of water there about eight feet across and about eighteen inches deep. It was full of the defiant little creatures with the hard shells and snappy pinchers. Over several years I perfected my technique for catching them. I would put them in a bucket and show them off to my highly appreciative and admiring friends. It was a big brag to catch a big, red crawfish that everyone was afraid to pick up. When they had all tried and lost their nerve, I would carefully pick up the monster and hold it up at eye level for all to see. To get further admiration, I would tease the creature with the other hand, tempting him to snap shut on my finger. “…dominion over the fish of the sea…”
When I was a young teenager, I would catch poisonous snakes and skin them out to make hatbands. “…dominion over every thing that creepeth upon the earth…”
The building of the Pyramids was the exercise of dominion. Even girls have a “quarter measure” of this dominion in them. They are nest builders. They don’t care to rope a bear, but they will take a little corner of the world and turn it into a home for their men and their children. My girls loved to build dwelling places. They would stack logs in the woods to make a house. They would decorate a treehouse that the boys built, or they would take a corner of the barn and turn it into a dining room where they would serve tea.
The physical world offers challenges to the male population. It is primarily men who chase tornadoes, seeing how close they can get, and photographing themselves doing so as proof of their prowess. Men are attracted to violent, belching volcanoes, high mountains, and the dangerous depths of the sea.
One of the Russian boys just got a new bicycle today. A few moments ago he came in with a badly banged up knee. He had jumped his bicycle off the porch. Anybody can ride on flat ground, but to sail through the air, to land without crashing (hopefully) and to get up and try something higher next time—what a thrill to defy the law of gravity, conquer, and subdue! I didn’t tell him not to try it again. He is learning. Let him put his face to the wind and discover his own powers and his limitations. All famous inventors were people who didn’t believe in established limitations. Their God-given drive to exercise dominion and to subdue was not limited by what others believed.
If you are going to keep your children happy and satisfied being on your ship, you must provide for the full expression of their dominion drives. There is much more to it than this, but kids have jumped ship for less. Take your son to the pilot-house when he is only three months old and put his hands on the wheel; then imagine him piloting the ship while you sleep, and then train him to do so.
Dear Mr. Pearl,
I was one of those children who jumped ship, and I did so for all the reasons you listed. My parents were hypocrites and expected the same from my sister and me. Our family was the perfect Pharisee household, though we “prodigal daughters” tainted that appearance. We never missed a church service; we always helped in church ministry, always witnessed to our neighbors, and kept the Sabbath day holy (if you didn’t count the fighting or abuse that went on behind our closed doors). Believe me, we had everyone fooled. When my sister jumped ship, I went back and told one of my mother’s friends the truth of what our family was really like. She didn’t believe me—I’m telling you we hid the hypocrisy very well. We did not tell, mostly out of fear of more anger and abuse that would come if we let it be known. Pride kept us strong, not God.
I jumped ship for 2 reasons. The first was to escape home, and I figured I might as well give them something to condemn me for since they were going to condemn me regardless of what I did. Also, part of me longed to know the good Shepherd and to lie down in green pastures. I had to jump ship because I was DETERMINED NEVER to become a Pharisee like my parents—I had to flee. My sister had no choice but to do as I did. Our parents still say it was our choice and they had nothing to do with it!
They are so blinded by religion and are confident that they trained us right, but that, due to some fault in us, it did not work. Just this past week they were proclaiming that we will one day come around to their way of thinking.
I love living in the grace I have found in Christ! I love that my kids love me, that my husband and I love each other; I love that I am free to choose joy and hope every day.
I can attest to the fact that when children are not engaged as vital crew members on a glorious voyage, they do acquire a greater sin than “rebellion.” They become angry, bitter, resentful human beings who are beaten down, broken, and will lash out at all attempts to be loved. Like a runaway dog that was abused all the time, when you try to feed him, he will bite you because he was trained to expect evil.
Beka was right—it is all about love. You were right—it is all about joy. And where does that come from? It comes from knowing Jesus. I wish my parents could really know Him. God has used you to reach so many, for which I am grateful, and I look forward one day to know that my kids know Him also. –AB
There it is! Children jump ship because parents make the voyage miserable. Facing that fact is the first step to recovery. When they are trained right, they walk right. And, you should know by now that training is much more than words and warnings, more than principles and precepts. When the example is wrong, the words can never be right, for our own attitude screams louder to them than do our carefully crafted religious words.
Parenting is the most accurate test of one’s true character. It reveals all the secrets and uncovers all that is hidden. Children reflect the soul of their parents; they manifest the heart that may have been formally concealed behind sophisticated screens and carefully crafted public perceptions. We parents can manipulate the public perceptions, leading others to believe we are something quite different from reality.
But, it is our children who become windows to our true selves, often opening the windows wider than we want them to go. They find and expose the real you and tap into and follow that reality as their guide. They bypass our words and emulate our vital centers. If the mother has a “bad” day, all the children will have a bad day, and Dad will have a bad evening. Bad days make bad weeks and bad years, which eventually turn into bad lives.
It is impossible to become a good parent without experiencing a revival within. There can be no duplicity. Parenting is not like a job where you meticulously follow the procedures and then clock out, knowing that you have played your part well. You can’t do the right thing as a parent without becoming the right person. Your children are just too perceptive to be fooled by outward displays. When parents have a transformation within, good parenting comes naturally, without all the struggle and deliberation. Pure souls living pure lives don’t need a great deal of knowledge about child training to raise good kids. Good children grow out of good soil.
America needs revival. The Christian church needs revival. The Homeschool family needs revival. Most of all, parents need revival, because the children won’t survive the Sodom in which we live without a revival that changes us from the inside out.
So, what can I do?
Many people have written, some of them just a little bit irritated, saying, “OK, there is a problem; my own children are near to jumping ship, so tell us what to do. Give us some practical examples.” They are missing the point. It is not about doing; it is about being. Get real. Love God until the joy of the Lord fills your cup to overflowing. Fall back in love with your spouse (that’s revival!), and enjoy each other in front of the kids! Let the Holy Spirit create discipline in you so that you use your time wisely and have more time to be with your children. It is a matter of perspective—of where your heart is actually fixed.
Your children are your legacy, the only one that will endure in future generations.
Parenting is the most demanding job in the universe. The CEO of a mega company needs to excel in a limited number of areas only, but to be an effective parent requires expertise in many areas. And, more than any other job—more than being a pastor or missionary—it requires purity of soul.Nearly everyone comes to parenting with a lot of counterproductive concepts. If God gave us a parenting test before allowing us to have babies, few homes would have a swing set or a box of toys. It seems that you have to be a parent to learn to be a parent, and by then it may be too late to improve your proficiency to do your children any good. Most obstacles that limit children’s potential are set in motion by the parents, and are rooted in their own fears, ego needs, inattentiveness, and unproductive habits. But parents are most often blinded by their ego and careless habits.
Thankfully, we don’t have to be perfect people, or even especially wise. We don’t have to be thoroughly informed as to all the ins and outs of parenting. We don’t need schooling. We need to be real—consistently real and caring. We need to be there. Everything else will somehow fall into place when our hearts are right. A right heart can make up for a lot of wrong headedness, but great knowledge and understanding can never make up for indifference.
You will get a much better response from your children when they perceive that you care more about them than you do about public perception. They are more perceptive than you give them credit for, and they always know your true heart—even when you don’t want them to.
Your children must be conscious that you really want them to have great experiences. When they see you putting emotional energy into them, they will respond with cooperation and openness. They will be moved by your willingness to invest yourself in their lives. Think of yourself as raising up a manager for your own company—someone to take your place when you are absent, and to assume your position when you are gone and no longer part of the equation. Working together toward common goals eliminates that adversarial relationship that poisons most families and sabotages every effort.
Sudden changes of heart with big efforts will not impress them. A lot of small gestures add up to big trust. You will create a climate of trust by never hurting—but always caring.
Respect and dignity
Teens will want to get out of a home that does not treat them with respect and dignity.
They will want to flee a home where they are not allowed to make a positive impact on the home and their younger siblings. You are not respecting your teenagers when you don’t confide in them, don’t listen to their ideas and treat them with the same seriousness you treat this article you are now reading. The last thing many parents hear as their kids are going over the railing is, “You didn’t listen to me.” Don’t get haughty and tell me how hard you tried and how much you care. Look at your family through the eyes of your children. That’s reality.
Rule by belittling
Never belittle their efforts or debase their person. Some parents’ leadership style is to demean, to cast their children in a role of unworthiness with the mistaken belief that it was their responsibility to prove by their works that they are indeed worthy. Your role must change from warden to friend. Remember Jesus’ words to His disciples: “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15).
Command and Control
Successful parenting is not found in “ordering” your children to be good and do the right thing; it is achieved in example and attentive organization of their lives. Children cannot be brought to a healthy maturity raised in an atmosphere of fear and punishment. Helping children develop their own persons will produce a family atmosphere and spirit of cooperation that is not possible under command-and-control alone. Children will not mature and develop independent decision-making when raised in an atmosphere where they know nothing more than being ordered to perform, even if doing so produces discipline and order when they are young.
The secret to teaching children to work is to give them jobs that they will enjoy carrying out. If there is no such job for a particular child, then structure a job with other incentives—like fellowship, or shorter duration—that will make the work pleasant. In the military or a sports team, the first concern of the leaders is the morale of the men and women. When optimism and hope runs high, you have potential winners. Think about the difference it would make if you had eight initiative-takers instead of eight foot-draggers. Give attention to their morale. Never keep pushing if the family has lost its morale.
The family’s morale will skyrocket when they clearly understand the purpose for their existence. Only then will they cooperate and accept the sacrifices of labor without bickering.
Don’t allow the family to stagnate in boredom and fear of failure.
The family should be constantly full of energy. Lack of energy is a ship-jumping waiting to happen. They need to share a compelling vision for their work, a good reason to believe it is important. An enthusiastic parent makes an enthusiastic work force.
Children are not happy if they are not given increasing responsibility. We humans are by nature always in need of reaching higher, stretching just beyond our reach. And we are not happy unless we’re regularly doing so. Give your teens all the responsibility they can handle, and then step back and let them try. Define the parameters in which they are allowed to operate, and then set them free to experiment, including failing (without fear of punishment).
Trust is a powerful incentive. Create an atmosphere that allows a child who makes a mistake to admit to it and take responsibility without recrimination. He can then use his energies to improve his performance rather than falling into the self-defeating trap of excuse-making. Kids make excuses when the consequences don’t allow any way out. They can start fresh with experiences that will enable them not to make the same mistake again.
Achieving goals is important, but how you arrive at them is more important. It is imperative that you do not undermine others whom your children should be respecting as authorities. And if your children see you acting contrary to the authority you are under, they will feel more free to not support you when they disagree with your policies.
Elevating your children
You know when you are in the presence of someone dedicated to elevating you. And, you also know when someone with a hidden agenda proceeds to tear you down, to humble you, to see you admit that you are wrong, and to make you try harder to win their approval. You don’t want to be around them. No doubt they think they are on a mission of righteousness, that they have a calling from God to hold up a higher standard, and you are their mission field. It stinks, doesn’t it?
Instead of tearing your children down to make them submissive to your commands, build them up so you don’t have to give them commands. Your job as a parent and the principal educator is to create a climate that enables them to unleash their potential. Given the right environment, you will be surprised at what they are capable of achieving.
Our constant drive should be to make them grow taller, to elevate them, not with flattering words but with space to grow, the opportunity to fail and to try again without shame or embarrassment. When your children see you taking pleasure in helping them develop and grow, they will take pleasure in doing the same with their siblings and with others. When they feel you have been patient with their failures, they will be patient with yours. When your children are hard on you, know for a certainty that you have been hard on them.
Raise your kids as if your getting to heaven was based on their good works and good attitudes. You want to get down to the bitter root? Ask them, “What do you like most…least about the home; what would you change if you could?” The answer will give you a chance to reexamine your own policies and attitudes as well as to provide an opportunity to instruct your children in ways that will give them fresh perspectives on your goals and your reasons.
When you listen to your children, you will come to respect them as people, and they will go along with your policies without grumbling, knowing that they have been heard and their views considered. They will greatly appreciate it when you find out what their goals are and then help them to get there. There is creativity and growth in providing and clarifying information. Those who have it, prosper. Those who don’t, stagnate. They have hopes and dreams and need to understand why what they are doing is important—how it relates to the big picture. Optimism and pessimism are twins, and are equally infectious in the home. Parents set the tone and spirit of the family according to one twin or the other.
Repent, or watch your children perish
This writer understands that there is more preacher and prophet in him than therapist. I do not seek to make you feel good about yourself. My goal is not to encourage you, but to inform you of your failures and to call you to repentance before God. It would be nice if, in reading my remarks, you would learn one more helpful principle or technique and successfully apply it to your children’s training. But, if you would simply repent and become a disciple of the man from Nazareth, if you were filled with the Holy Spirit of God, you would always have One to teach you, and there would be a sudden and radical shift in your entire life—including your relationship to your children. There it is, nothing held back. I cannot do otherwise.
If you want to almost guarantee that your children will not jump ship (other factors being equal), provide a community life that holds promise of suitable future mates.
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” so says the popular children’s rhyme. “No play” will also make Jack very dissatisfied with the life ship he is on, and when he gets old enough, he will observe the gaiety of others and begin to think about jumping ship for one that is more fun. If you are going to keep your children from longingly looking at other passing vessels, you must meet their need for diversion and entertainment. It is true that if left to themselves, children will overdose on entertainment, and, like Pinocchio, they will come to ruin on Pleasure Island. Yet, even with that danger in mind, the fact remains that children, just like adults, have both a legitimate and physical need to indulge in playful fun.
Mature, well-adjusted adults live to produce, and recreational play is clearly secondary, whereas small children live to play (“…when I was a child I thought as a child…”). Children would never work if not constrained and trained to do so. During their first twenty years, they evolve from full-time life of play to full- time working. There is also a rapid transition in their forms of play. In a period of fifteen years, they will go from tasting everything on the floor to riding motor cycles in competitions, or competing in international chess games. It becomes very difficult for parents to keep up with their children’s changing interests. I now clearly understand why God chose to give babies to young people, and not to us old folks. It takes a lot of energy to meet their ever-changing and increasing needs.
The key to providing proper and adequate entertainment is that you must thoroughly enjoy seeing them immersed in good healthy fun. Children have always loved pushing or riding something. They love the thrill of simple things, like sliding down a steep, grassy hill on a piece of cardboard, or sledding on snow and skating on ice. Kids love wheels, even at the earliest age, and will continue to do so until eventually they are begging to take “your wheels” out for a joyride. I just love putting one-year-olds on plastic riding toys and teaching them to push themselves along with their feet. They soon graduate to a tricycle and then on to a bicycle. Can you remember their thrill when they first rode without training wheels, and how exhilarated they were when they mastered roller skates, skateboards, and skies–the faster the better?
When I was a kid, my daddy assisted me by bringing home old wagon wheels and axles and scrap boards. Lawn mower wheels are excellent. At eight years old, along with the rest of the neighbor kids, I would build what we called a push car—something with four wheels, a seat, and a way to steer it. Dad would bring home buckets with the remnants of bright-colored paints, and we would paint our push cars to be the snazziest in the neighborhood. Then we would find a hill where the road was momentarily empty of cars, and, while one person rode and steered, the other would push him as fast as legs could go. It was then “freewheeling” it to the bottom of the hill to see whose car was the fastest. Yes, there was many a wreck, and the pusher would sometimes fall flat on his face in the road. And, yes, occasionally the cars would turn over or crash into the ditch. But, the “challenge and the thrill” is what made it all fun.
My parents played their parts quite well. Daddy provided the raw material and an occasional suggestion as to improvements in the design. Mama was fitly admiring of my paint job and ingenuity. Grandma liked to watch the races, especially if there was a crash. To finally get Dad to sit on our masterpiece of a push car and let us push him was the ultimate thrill. And to see him sitting there so vulnerable and so stiff and scared, just added more to our “great” achievement.
Times change and toys change, but children remain the same. They have an inherent need to tackle challenges and turn them into thrills. They will climb to the top of the tallest tree, jump into the water from the highest spot they dare, and then later they will “need” to see how fast the family car will go. It is dangerous being a kid, always has been, but to them it is just sheer fun. We adults must provide restraint and caution while we still can, before they get big enough to get out of our sight too quickly. But play they will, and play will inevitably find the thrill in everything, whether it is a ten-month-old climbing to the top of the stairs, or a ten-year-old climbing to the top of the fire tower, or a twenty-year-old checking out hang gliding.
Girls start off playing much like the boys, but with a little less of thrill seeking. They love horses and bicycles, but they also enjoy practicing to be mothers. Young girls, right down to the one-year-olds, entertain themselves with playing house and family. Mama Pearl, my wife, just bought a two-foot-long broom for ten-month-old Gracie. She spends a lot of time “sweeping” the floor. Almost three-year-old Laura Rose has her own little china tea set. She will spend an hour playing with the dishes and pouring tea for everyone. When my daughters were six years old, they would bake something and expect the whole world to stop and indulge in their delectable delight. I was delighted with them for their many attempts, even when I often had to pretend to swallow and then slip outside unnoticed to get rid of the unpleasant mouthful.
Parents who habitually push their children aside, not wanting to be bothered with their frivolous play, will lose the hearts of their children. It is not enough to allow time for your children to play; you must “sacrifice” your time and yourself and play with them. You don’t have to physically be there at the swing set all the time, but they must feel that your eyes are watching them from the kitchen window. You can even stop your work and run outside occasionally to laugh at them or to be “amazed” at their abilities.
I sought to be the most thrilling source of entertainment available to my kids. I actually pushed them to do the daring thing. I helped them set up a jump for their bicycles, encouraged them to swing higher, do flips off of the rope swing into the pond, or difficult dives from the diving board. I took them skating, and we raced around the rink. When it snowed, which was only once or twice a year in Memphis, I stopped everything I was doing just to play with them. We would make a sled and go find the highest hill. We would even try at full speed to make it through the sharpest curve, and “piled up” time and time again until we finally got it right. We were rightly proud of ourselves and congratulated each other profusely.
At times I took the boys into the swamps where we regularly caught or killed snakes, and caught sacks full of fish. We speared the very large fish or shot them with arrows. Exploring new “uncharted” territory was exciting, something we greatly enjoyed. I practiced baseball with the boys until they were good enough to not be embarrassed playing on a local team. But one season was enough for them. They liked the wild places much better, and throwing knives filled in the empty spots between their exciting outings with me.
We had a pond for the kids to swim in, but they would get bored swimming alone by themselves and started begging me to join them. When I headed toward the pond, they all got excited, and the ones who were not already in the pond would rush to join us. They knew I was going to add a new dimension to the fun, even though it might be nothing more than my watching and laughing as they did some new stunt in the water.
Now, important as it is to be involved with your children in their younger years, the most critical time for entertainment is when they get to their middle teens. At around fifteen years old, their social life becomes a significant part of their entertainment, and, in many cases, it is their primary concern. Social entertainment, has the potential of impacting them very negatively and is much more demanding of discerning parents. It is at this point that many parents make the mistake of trying to completely fence off their growing teens from other young people, lest they do something foolish and destructive, either physically or morally.
When my kids were getting into their early teens, I set up a volleyball net in the “holler” back of the house and invited other families to join us. Girls and boys their own age came to play. We were always there to oversee the kids together. They got to socialize with the opposite sex naturally, and without resorting to the dating pattern so common in modern society.
I will be quite plain about the social life of teenagers. When kids go through puberty, especially boys, mating becomes a consuming interest. They begin to live in a daydream/night-dream world. You can’t prevent it. It is absolutely natural and is quite glorious and wonderful. It is God’s design, intended to cause them to want to marry and reproduce. Furthermore, by divine design, the sexual drive constitutes the most controlling temptation a boy or man will ever face. It is the ultimate test of character and the bedrock on which self-control can be established. On this single pivotal point, young men either shipwreck, sometimes never to recover, or they grow strong in character, possessing their vessel in honor and sanctification.
Girls are not initially possessed of sexual drive, but their desires for romance and their God-given need to be treasured and possessed by a man renders them vulnerable to the predatory conniving of immoral males. Girls can too easily become junkies for male attention, selling themselves cheap to get it. Girls in unhappy homes are the quickest to jump ship into the first male arms directed toward them.
I can understand why many parents want to isolate their children and save them from their vulnerability in this area, but you cannot isolate them from their imaginations and passions. It is extremely helpful if, when your children reach this age, they are greatly occupied with other things. If a boy is engaged in hard work and hard play, he will expend much of his testosterone in that manner. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” is not an idle statement.
We are addressing the vital issue of providing a safe social life for your teenagers. Here is the delicate key: You can inoculate them against runaway passions by controlled injections of a supervised social life. Children jump ship when they think their most pressing needs cannot be met on the present course of their voyage. If you continually isolate your boys on a ship with no exposure to girls, they will eventually go overboard, and once they do, you no longer have a say in the way they seek fulfillment. So, you must provide a social life that promises a strong expectancy of future fulfillment in this area. Teenagers are more likely to be patient if they can see that their ship is part of a fleet that will occasionally rendezvous in port with other ships carrying handsome young men and beautiful girls just waiting to be swept away.
In most cases, your children will marry someone from the circle in which they are raised. They will make their picks long before you ever imagined they were showing interest. Although they may change several times, they will always have someone in their imaginations as a suitable future mate. Even if they end up marrying someone from outside their common social circle, your boys’ ideas of what they like in a girl will have been formed from their early contacts (which you provided) with thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-year-old girls, and they form them when they have just gone through puberty! And if you think you can replace this natural, God-given, God-ordered drive with teaching them Bible principles, you are off your religious rocker! But, we will talk about biblical admonition and character building later.
Ideally, your family should be part of a community of like-minded families who share the same biblical values and worldview. If your sixteen-year-old can look around and see a young woman whom he believes would make a great wife, he will hang around on your ship, doing his chores and making the sacrifices necessary to wait out the opportunity to enter into a marriage relationship on grounds that are acceptable to the community he is a part of. There it is. Read that sentence again. He will wait for the opportunity to enter into marriage on grounds that are acceptable to the community. The community is a more certain, powerful regulating factor than is the self-control of the kids involved. Even teenagers who are not saved and do not possess personal convictions will go along with community values if that is what it takes for them to attain the deepest desire of their hearts — or of their flesh.
If you want to almost guarantee that you children with not jump ship (other factors being equal), provide a community life that holds promise of suitable future mates. If your community is narrow and self-righteous, your kids may decide early on that they do not want to live like this the rest of their lives, and they may make up their minds that they are not going to marry and live in your community circle.
They will look over the railing at other passing ships that seem to be more sincere and friendly. Once kids leave the natural constraining factors of community, all that is left to control them is their own wisdom and self-control, which is usually not enough to keep teenagers, even “Christian” teenagers, from doing something foolish and regrettable.
When I speak of providing a community, I am not necessarily speaking of the traditional “small town,” old friends and family, all in one accord, going to the same country church, and having picnics at the city park after listening to gospel music and a political speech. That would certainly be nice, but in most cases, such an idyllic environment is gone forever in America. In some areas it can be partially recovered, but only at great difficulty and sacrifice.
Your family may be part of a very small church and community, offering few possibilities for your teenage children to find mates. It is a ship-jumping waiting to happen unless you can enlarge the community and the pool of possible marriage partners for your children. If you are in this situation, you must give immediate attention to increasing your community. One way of doing that is to get out and travel with your fifteen- to eighteen-year-olds, visiting other families with kids of a suitable age. Start attending camp meetings or Bible conferences, any gathering of Christians of like values.
Your family must stay loosely connected in a way that provides your budding adult children with hope of finding suitable mates. Seeing other families with possible mates, even once or twice a year, can be enough to give your young dreamers hope. When teenagers start dreaming of a particular mate, it creates a stabilizing influence in their lives. They will now have incentive to preserve their virtue for one whom they feel is worthy of nothing less.
There is a popular teaching that you should just tell your children to be patient, and God will bring into their life the one person created in heaven to be their mate. For a few very dedicated kids, who have committed their lives to serving God on the mission field or in some full-time capacity, this is doubtless true. But, the average kid who has never experienced a walk of faith is not going to have faith in this one area and just sit around until he is thirty years old waiting for that one special female to fall out of heaven into his arms.
We receive many letters like a recent one where a 28-year-old daughter has jumped ship and married an older divorced man with a smeared past and three children. As she was getting older, she saw the small pool of “possibles” dwindling away to nothing. She lost hope and needed love. She foolishly rejected her captain and her family, and threw herself to the sharks rather than continue on a hopeless voyage leading nowhere. Older children and young adults must have a tangible, visible hope, one with a social life that provides potential mates of the same caliber as themselves.
I know that kids should exercise more self-restraint, that they should be more patient, and that they should listen to the counsel of their parents and their church elders. I agree that they should be wise and spiritual and seek God’s will first and foremost—but few do, whereas virtually all of them will eventually marry. Don’t risk throwing your children away by setting the marriage standard so high that they despair of reaching it. You are making a grave mistake if you fail to provide for the possibility that your teenage children may not be spiritual, discerning giants. They may just end up marrying an acquaintance — one whom you provide or, one they meet at the video store.
God has chosen you as the captain of your ship. You are authorized to command your crew, but remember that many a voyage has ended with a very disheartened crew abandoning ship, or worse, in mutiny. Provide community for your children. Don’t fail in this one last task you are commanded to carry out: providing adequate community for them so that you can happily send them ashore to produce Godly seed. Give them hope, and they will stick it out until you have safely delivered them to a lifemate worthy of the time and prayer you have invested in them.
If you live in an apartment in a big city, you can still provide community, but it will certainly not happen by default. It will take wise judgment and careful control. You must actively seek out others of like faith and convictions and create an association with them. In the city, you are not likely to find a church that provides a proper community life for your children.
A church receives anyone and everyone who chooses to come through the door, as it rightly should. But to have a proper community for your teenage children, you must exercise your freedom not to associate with some families. You must pick and choose with wisdom. If you are a pushover, welcoming into your home all who would seek your association, you might as well throw your children to the dogs, for they are prone to adopt the worst influences you allow into their lives. If you can’t judge between right and wrong and don’t exhibit the courage to flee the company of evildoers, your children are in danger from your weak-kneed attitude. Learn to say “no” to companying with ungodly people, and mean it! Use the word, “No!” in ways that cannot be mistaken for, “Maybe some other time.”
“No we don’t want to go there.”
“No, my children are busy this weekend.”
“No, that is not our idea of fun.”
“No, I think it would be better if our families did not mix; we have convictions that your children don’t seem to share.”
Will they call you “hypocrites, self-righteous, isolationists”? Yes, they will, and things a whole lot worse, but when you live in Sodom (any city in America), you will either let the popular trend be your guide, or you will set your own agenda and enforce it, no matter whose feelings get hurt. To select a righteous community out of your church or your city and guard its borders is not an easy task, but I know many families who have been successful at it. If a deadly virus were to sweep through the world, no one would fault you for quarantining your family.
How much more deadly is the disease of sin that so infects the world today! Just make sure that your family “quarantine” shares its isolation with enough families so that it does not feel like isolation to the children. The point is not to cease having a social life, but to build your social life around your own worldview. There are families out there who are part of God’s remnant, just like you. You might find some of them on this web site: www.fellowshipdirectory.com
Saints, we’re one day closer to Home, and Him! Love Him wholeheartedly!
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Feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion. May our Father richly bless you with His grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, in order to walk worthy of His name.
AT THE BATTLE FRONT: Equipping and Building Up the Saints to Become Victorious Overcomers of the World; Moderated by Marc White, Director, Walk Worthy, Central Florida, USA
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not WAR according to the flesh, for the weapons of our WARFARE are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” 2 Cor. 10:3-4; At The Battle Front, Copyright, a Walk Worthy ministry; permission granted to repost in full.
The Vision of Walk Worthy (Walk Worthy Vision: 6 minutes) is to be preaching and discipling the whole Gospel and purpose of God worldwide so that His body will walk in all purity and holiness with Jesus, and bringing the Father pleasure in all respects. www.walkworthy.org
“…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,” Eph. 4.1, Col. 1.10, 1 Thes. 2.12
The writers and speakers we quote may preach certain doctrines in their ministries and/or live lifestyles that we disagree with mildly or wholeheartedly. However, something of eternal value from them has been delivered to us by the Holy Spirit. And in that leading, we pass it on to you for your edification!
Feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit. May our Father richly bless you with His grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, in order to walk worthy of His name.