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serving jesus christ the king

Future-proofing your kids

All over the news this week has been the case of Alfie Patten and his girlfriend Chantelle Steadman who gave birth to a daughter Maisie. Why the fuss? Alfie is 13, and Chantelle is 15. Add to mix the fact that they aren’t even sure if Alfie is the father since she had several other partners.

Leaving aside the particular details of this case, how is it that parents can equip their kids for making right decisions? Is life simply to be a list of no’s or a catalogue of don’ts? Every parent knows that a ‘no’ or a ‘don’t’ is one sure-fire way to get kids to do something. Another option is to govern by fear—if you do this you’ll be for it. Or the more sophisticated version—if you do this you’ll make a mess of your life. It’s hardly the best approach to family relations.

Another approach is to govern by pride—we’re the such-and-such family, and we don’t do a thing like that. But this feeds a tendency to look down your nose at others.

Yet another approach is to think that if we give enough information to young people, they will make informed and wise choices. This too is staggeringly naïve—and has proved a startling failure with more information available than ever before about sex, drugs and alcohol and yet higher rates of teenage pregnancy, STDs, alcoholism, and drug abuse.

What is the answer? Last week at church we were looking at the mother of Moses and how, although she had him for only a few short years before Pharaoh’s daughter whisked him away, she managed to instil into him something which held him fast against all the temptations of the court of Pharaoh—the riches, the power, the women. She wasn’t there to provide guidance at every step. She wasn’t there to check up on him. So what was it she did?

She infused him with such an understanding of who God is and what God offers that for the rest of his life Moses could assess everything in the light of that. The book of Hebrews tells us that he refused to be known as royalty, that he walked amongst all the pleasures which money can buy and walked past them because he was living for something bigger.

Young people are hard-wired to be dazzled—the daily grind of their own and even their parents’ lives bores them. They look for something bigger and better than what they are currently experiencing. And a parent’s task is to do what Moses’ mother did and give our kids such a view of the greatness and glory and wonder of God, and of the joy that God has in store for those who delight in him, that they will pass by the distractions of this world and live for something bigger and better.

It will guard them from temptation, enable them to make wise choices, and equip them to live with balance, perspective and humility. Having a view of God’s greatness will move them (and us) to nobility. They will become people who live worthwhile lives because they have got hold of something worth pouring your life into. Your children need something worth living and dying for—and only one thing is that big: God.