(Proverbs 1:8) “Listen closely my son, to your father’s instruction and do not turn your back on your mother’s teaching.” Proverbs 1:8
It’s the time of the year when parents are reminded of the danger of leaving their child in a car while they make a quick stop at the store or leaving them alone at home. Such actions may endanger their lives. Those are good things to remember. We need to protect our children. We must to teach them about the dangers hiding out of sight of mom and dad. Don’t talk to strangers or take gifts from people you don’t know without parents’ approval. Don’t play with fire or take a drink at a party that you did not pour yourself, and look both ways before crossing the street.
All these, and many more, make good sense. Parents are responsible for the safety and well-being of their children. That’s not society’s idea, it’s God’s and He gives us a multitude of teachings designed to keep our kids out of harm’s way.
Some of those lessons are easy to impress on our kids, others not so easy. Here are three gleaned from the not so easy category: #1 Teach your children to choose their friends well; #2 Follow the Lord not the crowd; #3 Just Say No to addictive substances. The temptations that flow from these are real and potentially devastating.
What does the Lord say about these three issues faced by all people and especially critical in the lives of our children?
Teaching #1 for Temptation #1: Teach your children to choose their friends well.
God reminds us “the righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Proverbs 12:26) Friends have a profound influence on our lives. This is particularly so in our children’s for they have not come to the point in life when they can easily discern the difference between good influence and bad, and they desire to fit in. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
Parents need to be like the anonymous writer of Psalm 1 and teach their children, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers” (Psalm 1:1). Children need a mom and dad who will help them make wise choices when it comes to choosing friends.
Teaching #2 for Temptation #2: Follow the Lord not the crowd.
In Proverbs 1, King Solomon gives sound advice concerning fitting in and following the crowd. “My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them,” the king admonishes his boy (Proverbs 1:10). Adults may think it a no-brainer when it comes to staying away from criminals. But it must not be such an easy thing since so many adults tag along and join in with less than noble folks. Children will as well.
Why did Solomon write what he wrote? Because God wanted us to know. Solomon’s advice did not come from his own thoughts, but from God’s. God knows the power of peer pressure and as the best Father, He warns His children to beware of it and stay clear of any who would lead them down the wrong path.
Then the Lord reminds us that our children come under a load of this pressure. Here’s an example from the week before Jesus was crucified. It would seem that the same crowd that declared Him the one who came in the name of the Lord, the son of David who would save them, a few days later called for His crucifixion. They caved to the pressure of the religious leaders. Let’s teach our children before they cave as well.
Teaching #3 for Temptation #3: Just Say NO
With friendship can come the temptation to experiment and indulge. This is where having the right or wrong kind of friends makes a mountain of difference. Like the old don’t drink and drive campaign used to say, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” Unfortunately, not having the right kind of friends and given the power of peer pressure, we have more than enough anecdotal evidence to know that the ad didn’t work very well.
God warns society about the dangers of overindulgence. When you get a second read Proverbs 23:29-35. In Ephesians 5:18, God says, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
Being controlled by substances is dangerous, though those who promote them are slow to say it is so. Then again they have been taught well. Does this sound familiar? “The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5) People have bought the Serpent’s line ever since. We need to teach them Eve’s line; they shouldn’t even touch the stuff and remember actions do often speak louder than words.
These three teachings are desperately needed for our children to move safely into adulthood. Like teaching them about God and trusting Him as their guide, parents have to both talk and walk what they want their children to copy. These are not easy things but they are essential things. Be both proactive and active – teach them and inject yourselves into their lives.
When should parents begin to teach their children these lessons? That would be before they start looking for friends. What is the best way to teach them? The best place to begin is to know that the best friend a parent can have is Jesus Christ.