We have five children who are all married and with children. By June we will have fifteen grandchildren. When my children were young, I was the strong man and as long as they were in my home, no one could have them.
Did we have rebellious children? That’s a tough question. All children grow up and become adults and they become sinners against God. So that’s rebellion. If they sinned against God, you can be certain they disobeyed their parents more than once. But how bad was it?
Good parents don’t think their children never make mistakes or disobey. Instead, good parents look forward to using those instances for teaching and learning. And the earlier they get caught and learn the lessons, the better! We prayed to see the mistakes our children made so that we could correct them and keep the mistakes from becoming bigger ones. We had daily prayers. There was daily talking about God. One of my daughters said that as a teen she decided to count the number of times I mentioned God in a [LONG READ]
day. She stopped counting. We weren’t weird or creepy about it. We were well-adjusted, fun, engaged, caring people. There was no psychosis. There was no hidden thing in the closet. There was no hypocrisy. Such things would have utterly invalidated the Christian life we lived and held out for our children to enjoy.
Lying was the worst trespass in our home. Every other fault is visible and can be dealt with. But lying made every other word to be suspect. When you don’t have trust, you have nothing. Our children got in twice as much trouble if they lied. And they did lie. But we would catch them enough of the times to make hay from it. We told the story of the boy who cried wolf and we let our children know that trust was a very valuable thing. They learned it was easier to tell on themselves than for us to find out later. When trust was being earned, we would remind them before they made a mistake that we loved and trusted them and expected the very best from them.
I would say that most of the learned lessons were already ingrained in our children before they reached the teenage years. Spankings were finished long before then so that mostly, now as adults, they don’t even remember getting a spanking. That is, except for our son, Daniel, who got the worst spanking of his life ON HIS THIRTEENTH BIRTHDAY. I won’t go into why, but he did a silly and foolish thing. But in the teenage years, neither he nor our five girls did drugs, drank alcohol, smoked, and they for the most part did not “date”. One boy asked us to date our second daughter, but after a two hour interview, he decided he would look for a different girl.
My wife and I intended to be the support and main influence in our children’s lives. And as parents, we were always on the same page. We tag teamed. If the children didn’t understand my discipline, their mother would speak gently with them and remind them of how much I love them. They never doubted my love. We taught them the truth. We loved them. We disciplined them. We grounded them, which meant more time with us and that friends we approved of could come to our house. As attitudes changed, we would relax the ropes and allow more freedom. Many worldly friends were lost which was just fine with us. We prayed for our children to have a good friend. We got them involved in sports. We homeschooled until high school. We encouraged them to do post secondary starting in 11th and 12th grades.
When the peers were pulling on and influencing our children, we pointed it out. Our children will remember that we told them we were the ones who would be there when they graduated. We would be the ones there when they went off to college. We would be the ones who would be there when they graduated college and married. We would be the ones there to see their grandchildren. And we said that most all of their high school friends would move on their own ways and you would hardly recognize them in years to come.
We painted a picture for our children of their grown up life. We helped them to imagine their own homes. We talked about the spouse God was raising for them. We talked to them of the importance of raising their children to love the Lord. All parents do this. The problem is that the picture often has a very weak picture of God, the church, and faith in it. But many parents do paint a picture. It’s just that the picture is often times about money, big homes, fame, etc. These things we hardly, if at all, spoke of.
We taught our children in the way they should go. We did not leave their souls to chance. We did not leave them to fend for themselves. We did not leave them to be preyed on by the world. Our job was to raise our children so that they would safely transition to living under the hand of God. We passed off our children to God. We raised them just as God gave them to us to do. God loaned them to us. We gave them back to God. And now as adults, they love the Lord as we do.
Our attitude was from the earliest days of parenting to bring our children up to walk with God. We had the attitude of winning. The devil would not get our children. I have written about this on my blog www.aconqueringfaith.com
that Jesus said no one can plunder a home unless he first bind the strong man, Mk 3:27. When it came to my children, you haven’t met a strong man like I was. My eyes, and my wife’s eyes, were on our children and there wasn’t anyone going to plunder our home and our children’s souls without a fight.
If you have children, if you don’t have the attitude that you are going to be the strong man and there’s no one going to have your children’s souls, you will likely lose them. The world is after your children. The culture is ready to turn your children against God, against the Bible, and against you. I mean it when I say, over my dead body.
My children are raised. And they can tell you for themselves that I’m not making this up. I love my children too much to let them go astray. They can testify that they are now happy that we parents were stronger than the world trying to pull them the other way. We did not ever give up.
Now our four girls are married to strong Christian men: two are ministers and two are deacons in the Lord’s church. And our son is a minister on the island of Grand Cayman. So far we see very good evidence that all of our grandchildren are being raised as we would raise them. I believe all of my grandchildren are going to love the Lord and walk with Him. I have expectations. I couldn’t be happier than I am with my four sons-in-law: Kevin, Blake, Gregg, and Josh. I couldn’t be more happy than I am with my daughter-in-law: our sweet Miranda. We love our children’s spouses as if our very own blood. We grant to them the highest respect and do not play any silly games against them. These are the finest people and they are true servants of the Lord. I video conference with all five of the grown men each month so that we can pray, study, and catch up on family. My concern is that they are godly men, faithful husbands, and loving and strict daddies to their children. My philosophy is either your lead or your leave the leading to someone else. I prefer not leaving my children’s families and their souls to chance.
In all of this, I humbly state these things. The Lord is the power behind it all. And with faith, He will be the power for you to be the strong man so that no power, no evil, no culture, no peer will take your children away.
I write this for the moms and dads who are looking for encouragement that they can navigate their children through the challenges they will face in the pivotal years of going from child to adult. I also write this with humility before my own children who also know I wasn’t a perfect dad. I have regrets because I could have been better. But the good in me with the help of God overcame whatever negative they saw in me. I write this not to suggest that you have to be perfect. You won’t be. But the good has to be evident to overcome the bad. Children will know if you are a hypocrite. Don’t try to fool them. If they catch you making a mistake, admit it and repent to their little souls. It makes you real and shows you love doing right.
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One last thing. I post here the text of a letter of a friend and strong Christian, a member of the Lord’s church, who was and remains like an uncle to our five children. He witnessed all of this parenting and child-rearing I have spoken of. The following is a letter he wrote to them when they were grown. My friend signed the letter, but I will leave his name off as he is a private person. Here it is….
The latest sermon series at the _______ Church and thus the latest evening group discussions have been about marriage. Last night sorta centered mostly around kids entering into marriage/dating. Some of these good people (none w kids younger than 17) have children dating non-christian kids from their public high school and many of the older group members have children who made, at the very least, a slight mess of their lives through who they married.
Now, as a non-parent, as a keen observer, and as one with with an outside perspective I like to think I can spot truth (although I need plenty of help in learning and applying what is pertinent in my own life). I heard some complaints, just to name a few, that schools undo parents work, that kids and marriage are a Vegas crap shoot, and I heard other complaints that parents can’t fight every battle…
First of all, to the extent that I have any decency as a human or have any desire to seek truth and grow, I credit my parents.
Secondly, as I say, I have observed and as one with no children no one can point at me and say, “Oh yeah, well what about your kids?”, since I haven’t had a chance to screw up in that regard. I have seen only one other family approximate the work your parents did. Battles? Your parents fought for your souls and I’m sure you hardly, if ever, won a battle you should not have won. I have a feeling the children of these parents started winning battles they should have lost while still infants, a pattern that never changed.
Anyway, the point is this. Children should honor their parents and marriages should honor God. You Mayfield children (I address the Mayfield’s because I witnessed your upbringing) have been blessed far more than you may ever know by the job your parents did. And, I personally believe there may be no better way for you to honor them, honor God, and bless this world than to follow their example of how to produce Godly children.
I write this because it was frustrating to hear the excuses and witness the helplessness of those involved in last night’s discussion and I know these words won’t be lost on you. I know that it isn’t a crap shoot. Godly children are the result of hard work. I have seen it. My intent is this, be encouraged, continue the work you are doing if you have children, and be tireless in fighting the battles.