I have lately been burdened by families who are doing their best...yes, you did read that correctly.
Many families struggle and eventually throw up their hands in defeat as their preteens and teens begin pursuing attitudes and interests of this world that dishonors God.
There are many Biblical principles that deserve meditation by parents, but I would like to share simply two:
1. Parents who "Really" love God.
By "Really", I mean "Real". Real love for God is not only on Sundays or Wednesdays at church. There are many well intentioned believers that have two standards for their home: A Church standard and a Home standard. They live in the dichotomy of conservative, holy Christianity for their church choice and attendance, but the lifestyle of pursuing a world without God's holiness and presence at their home.
Children need to see their parents loving God with their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
I was thinking this morning about the hundred's of Christian families that I have come into contact with in our years of ministry and how their children turned out. I believe the single most important factor other than the calling Grace of God is having Parents that "really" loved God. Their home life was like their church life. Their children saw them seeking God in the Word and prayer. Their media, talk, discipline, etc. was based on following the Bible, it wasn't only "church stuff". "Real Godly parents" mostly reared "Real Godly children" in the long run.
I notice in many of these "real" families that sometimes there was a stint of rebellion where an older teen would seemingly pursue the world, but then would return to living for God later. Of course, this isn't always true and their are many "real families" that lose one or two of their children totally to the world to return no more. "Train up a child" is a directional promise, not an "every time" promise.
2. Friendships that are allowed
Many of the hearts of our children are stolen by the Evil One through what seems to be a "nice friend". I will never forget the nice church friend who showed me a condom when visiting his house one day. His Dad was a deacon and good friends of my family, but it was clearly obvious that this son was very worldly minded. My parents could have seen that. I knew that.
We need to be kindly discerning and discriminatory about who we allow our children to spend their time with. This can get embarrassing and a struggle when you have to explain this to other parents.....however, we are talking about our very precious children - we must over come fear of other parents when we say "no". We must talk to our children about their friendships and know who children at school are. What happened to the old time "have the friends over for supper" routine?
I would also recommend you to be careful when allowing your children to spend the night somewhere. We cannot keep our children in a bubble, but we must know all the possible dangers of allowing them to go somewhere. Sometimes, just asking the questions can reveal some issue. Scripture says: 1Co 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. We must not allow evil communications in the form of friendships to corrupt the good manners we are instilling in our children.
A childhood of righteousness can be corrupted by one bad friend. It is heart breaking when a teen will side with the counsel and direction of an evil friend and forsake the Bible counsel of their parents. Be strong to control who your preteen or teen "hangs with". Insist on helping them choose their friends. If you have built a relationship with your child, after some resistance, you will greatly influence their choices.
We cannot afford simply to do our best in parenting - we need to parent God's way.