- “Teach your kids honesty about who they are.” I know that a lot of my home culture is concerned about my kids feeling good about who they are—about self-esteem. And trust me, I want to be the first to line up to cheer, The image of God in you is breathtaking. And I love seeing it grow in you. I celebrate what He is sculpting in you. But what I (attempt to) insist on in my kids is that they take responsibility for their own junk.
Maybe it’s because I’m a natural-born Pharisee, so often wrapped up in the ways God’s lucky to have me on His team.
But when I look at the heart God loves—the one He wants to be close to, the one He befriends—it’s all about the eyes riveted on Him, the hearts humble enough to admit this is who I am, and this is who I ain’t. I want them to have no allowance for their own pretense, their hearts’ own sleek falsehoods.
Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thomas write in Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus,
Give grace to your children today by speaking of sin and mercy. Tell Susan that she can relax into God’s loving embrace and stop thinking that she has to perform in order to get her welcoming Father to love her. Tell David that he can have hope that even though he really struggles, he’s the very sort of person Jesus loved being around. Dazzle them with his love.
My kids probably get pretty tired of me harping after every little misstep, “Take responsibility!” But hopefully you see the edges hardening on a theme of mine: Humility opens us up to accept a deluge of grace—to accept Jesus, really—with arms spread-eagled. Their (our) ability to be honest with themselves spreads its fingers into every relationship, into every facet of character. As C.S. Lewis writes,
it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind…
… it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.
- “Raise kids that not just you like, but other people like, too.” I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard my mom cite this little nugget. I can’t get so caught up in my love and fierce loyalty to my children that I miss the negative effects they have on other people. This requires some basic observation about my child’s social skills, and a keen observation of their gaps in responding well and lovingly to others.
This means I also can’t create my happy little family subculture…with kids who lack an ability to effectively engage with the world. Tim Kimmel writes,
Those who think that the wisest way to groom a child for spiritual maturity is to isolate him from the evil, corrupted world system or airbrush his childhood environment so much that it exposes only him to the good and never teaches him how to process the bad (or the counterfeit) will set a child up for a life of mediocrity at best and spiritual annihilation at worst. (from Grace-Based Parenting)
Elsewhere Kimmel writes,
Bottom line, the mainline church movement was blindsided by that era and didn’t offer thoughtful responses to all that was going on around it. To many young kids in the midst of that tumultuous decade, the church came across as irrelevant and out-of-step with where the world was heading. (from Why Christian Kids Rebel: Trading Heartache for Hope)
I guess I’m thinking that relevant, socially aware kids will help shape the Church of our future to continue to contend and engage thoughtfully and lovingly with culture.
- “Help them walk with the Holy Spirit.” If we’re teaching our kids about who they honestly are, we’re not just leaving them there, powerless to change and grow. We direct them to the Source of real, heart-level change. Tedd Tripp writes,
All behavior is linked to attitudes of the heart. Therefore, discipline must address attitudes of the heart….I have spoken to many parents who feared they were producing little hypocrites who were proud and self-righteous. Hypocrisy and self-righteousness is the result of giving children a keepable law and telling them to be good. To the extent they are successful, they become like the Pharisees….The genius of Phariseeism was that it reduced the law to a keepable standard of externals that any self-disciplined person could do. In their pride and self-righteousness, they rejected Christ. 
This post had some great ideas about teaching kids about the Holy Spirit.
Tell us: What’s some of the best parenting advice you’ve received?
 from Shepherding a Child’s Heart.