The hearts and minds of our children are like clay when they are young--easily molded into shapes and patterns that follow the form initiated by their parents. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) that doesn't last very long. After a few years, our children have opinions of their own--opinions that may differ from ours or even oppose the truths we have taught them.
What happens when we, as parents, try to force our views upon our children, especially those opinionated, obstinate, individuals we call teen-agers? If we apply too much pressure to a stick, it will break. Sometimes overly zealous parents who don’t allow their children to think, or express thoughts that differ from their own -- break something within the heart and mind of a child--something created by his Maker and designed to be molded and shaped by the Truth. Once that "something" is broken, it is difficult to mend. We all know adult children of authoritarian parents who carry the hurt of coerced submission (to God and to their parents) well into their mature years.
Why do we do that to our children? Why do we lecture, coerce, and manipulate our children to force them to "see" the truth, to acknowledge our way is the best?
Maybe it is too frightening to think our beloved children may err and miss out on heaven, or at least miss the depth of relationship with God that we want them to experience. Perhaps, we don't trust our Heavenly Father that he can till the soil of our children's hearts and bury the seeds that we have scattered. We try to do it ourselves, and instead of breaking up fallow ground, we break a tender heart.
What should we do?
Give our children the truth. Provide boundaries to guide them, and let the Holy Spirit convict them of "all unrighteousness" as He is faithful to do. If we tell them what to think and force our convictions upon our children, then that is all that they will have. Our convictions--and not their own.
It is scary "letting go." I struggle with it. I hate it. I want to coerce my kids into the Kingdom--but it just doesn't work that way.
A few days ago, I was praying (worrying) and it went like this:
My children love you Lord. However, they do not always allow their love for You to regulate how they react to other loves that draw them away from the center of Your will. They are not focused on being sanctified, dying to their own desires and coming alive to Yours. When they change their focus—they will be powerful Christians.
Then came the thought that set me free from worry (at least for the moment):
I cannot change their focus. I can only focus on the One who can.
My children love the Lord. I will rest in that.