I just bought him his first pair of shoes that are bigger than mine.
Life used to be all about Thomas the Tank Engine and digging in the dirt, and suddenly (it seems), life has become a lot more complicated.
The topic of conversation on the way home from school on Thursday was Instagram. This semester has been his first school experience, and we are loving it so far. He goes to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and receives assignments to complete at home on the other days. This has been an excellent way to experience teachers, deadlines, and classmates. His world has definitely become larger, in a good way. But back to Instagram…
“Mom, I just don’t think that Instagram is good.”
“Why is that?”
“Well, the kids all love it and they’re pretty much addicted to it, but they have all run across really inappropriate pictures on Instagram.”
“What kind of inappropriate pictures?”
“Well, just inappropriate things…”
Lord, how do I respond to this?
“I just don’t understand why people want to post things like that on the internet.”
“Yeah, I don’t either. (Lord, please help!) Son, do you remember reading in Proverbs about folly? Well, the Bible says that folly is going to be calling out to you. This seems gross to you now, and that’s good. But you are going to continue to be exposed to things that are foolish, and you’re going to have to decide if you’re going to follow after the Lord or after folly. The Bible warns us that there are going to be times where foolishness will even seem very appealing. It may be in the form of someone showing a “funny” picture on their phone, one that you’re pretty sure might be inappropriate. It’s going to be really tempting to go along with it so that you don’t look like a nerd for not participating. But foolishness is deceptive. What the world says is desirable is a lie.”
I watched as a light bulb slowly turned on in his head. The chapters of Proverbs that he had read in Awana (probably two years ago) as part of a special Bible reading challenge came alive in a new way.
“For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
Guarding the paths of justice,
And He preserves the way of His godly ones.
Then you will discern righteousness and justice
And equity and every good course.
For wisdom will enter your heart
And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
Discretion will guard you,
Understanding will watch over you,
To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things;
From those who leave the paths of righteousness
To walk in the ways of darkness;
Who delight in doing evil
And rejoice in the perversity of evil;”
God’s Word has always been living and active (Hebrews 4:11), but it seems so much more alive and active at this age! My husband and I are in uncharted territory. We don’t know the right things to do and say in this new stage of parenting. We don’t have all the answers worked out. Will we allow our son to have a smart phone? I’m sure he will at some point but we don’t know when. Will he have an Instagram account? Not anytime soon! But he’s 11, turning 12 in three months. We aren’t rushing to embrace social media for our soon-to-be teen, but we aren’t planning to bury our heads in the sand either. This world is his world. He’s going to have to be able to navigate it. But how thankful I am that we can plead with him from God’s word! How clear it speaks to us, here in the 21st century! We see the 2,000 year old truths of Scripture played out on the computer screen. There are people in this world who rejoice in the perversity of evil. Foolishness abounds. And yet God promises that to those who seek the Lord, wisdom will enter their hearts. Knowledge will be pleasant to their soul. An inappropriate joke might bring a fleeting laugh, but the way of wisdom is pleasant to the soul. Doing the right thing appears to be the lame way to go, but that’s just a lie. The foolish are headed for destruction, but the Lord preserves the way of His godly ones!
If you are a mom of young children, can I encourage you? Reading and memorizing Scripture with your kids now will pay off when they are big! Memorize Proverbs 2. All of it. It’s 22 verses, but this can be done. Memorize Psalm 1 and Psalm 19 and Psalm 100. Or Ephesians 6:10-17 – the armor of God. Or any passage! Pour it in now. Then as your children grow and the world is in their face and they are shocked by the ugliness of sin or tempted by its appeal, you can remind them, “Look! It’s right here in Proverbs 2! Those who choose not to follow the Lord delight in doing evil. It looks appealing, but they are headed for destruction. God’s way is the one that brings life and peace!”
When you teach your little ones big Biblical words, it’s not because they will understand very much of it at that moment. You are planting the seeds for future moments. We definitely read story Bibles with our young children – the Big Picture Story Bible and The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos are two of our favorites. But reading and memorizing the real Bible even from a young age is so profitable as well. One huge benefit is that it begins a habit of turning to the Bible as the source of truth. If it has always been natural to look at what God’s word has to say about life, then it will continue to be natural in the middle school years. (Not saying that the child will necessarily want to hear it – but it won’t be something new.) Also, children can learn the vocabulary and turn the words over in their minds, until suddenly one day their minds grasp the truth.
(If you already have big kids and are new to studying the Bible with them, please don’t feel like all is lost! I wanted to point out the advantages that I’m seeing of starting early, but it’s definitely never too late to start.)
The Bible can withstand the scrutiny of big kids asking big questions.
I don’t know what tomorrow’s parenting challenges will be, or next week’s. We are headed into a whole new realm in parenting where the issues just got bigger. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m so thankful that we know the source of truth!
Need resources for parenting in the middle school years and beyond? Here are some books that we have on our shelf:
Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd and Margy Tripp
The overall theme of this book is that as parents, we have the responsibility to teach our children the ways of the Lord. This teaching, referred to as “formative instruction,” is best communicated when our children are not already in trouble. But how do we do that? The Tripps explain in this book how to talk to your children about the Biblical issues of authority, salvation, sowing and reaping (the consequences that play out because of our actions), wisdom and foolishness, and more. A fantastic read for parents with kids of any age, and especially age 8 and up.
Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens by Paul David Tripp
This book is a must-read for all parents of teens! In fact, go ahead and read it when they get to age 10 or so. Paul David Tripp encourages parents to rid themselves of our culture’s cynicism over the teen years and embrace the teen years as an age of huge opportunity. Yes, there are going to be challenging moments, but we have the chance to enjoy life with our teens and have really amazing conversations with them if our focus is on discipling them in the ways of the Lord rather than just elevating our own desire for convenience. Really good stuff. This is the kind of book that you read and have things to put into practice right away that day.
Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce A. Ware
This book is a fantastic resource for teaching theology to your children. There are 9 sections with smaller chapters in each section. The sections are: God’s Word and God’s Own Life as God, God as Three in One, Creator and Ruler of All, Our Human Nature and Our Sin, Who Jesus Is, The Work that Jesus has Done, The Holy Spirit, Our Great Salvation, and The Church. The chapters are short – about three pages each, and each chapter is full of Scripture references and clear explanations that are easy to relate to. You can read the chapters and teach the material to your children, or read directly from the book (for older kids).
P.S. – I am not meaning to say in this post that I think studying the Bible with young children is a guarantee that they will trust in Christ for salvation. But that’s a bigger topic than this post – you can read more on that in this post: Faithful Mothering.