As a family with young children, we do a lot of outdoor activities together. We swim, cycle and in recent years, we started to skate. We have skated and cycled to many places for meals, shopping or just for leisure. Inevitably we have to cross road using traffic light or pedestrian crossing. So we train our children to follow our instruction while crossing the road. We teach them how to observe the traffic rules, where to stand while waiting, how to read the traffic light and how to cross the road safely. All these are part and parcel of helping them to evaluate the traffic condition and make wise decision in order to cross the road safely. Even with all the training, I would still demand my children to follow my instruction while crossing the road because at their young age, their mind are not mature enough to evaluate the traffic condition even with the training. As such I still feel uneasy to let them make their own decision and cross on their own.
My eldest son Ean is in primary 5 this year and I can see that he is growing to be more independent and sometimes he wants to make his own decision for certain activities. A few weeks ago while cycling to the central for an evening meal, I was shock to see Ean making his own decision to cross the road after checking that the traffic was safe to cross. At that moment I almost called out for him to stop but that would mean that he would have to stop in the middle of the road, so I held my breath and prayed for the best. He crossed the road safely and confidently. After that incident I decided to trust him after seeing that he was able to evaluate the traffic condition and cross the road safely. Even though there is still fear in me it is time to let him go to cross the road on his own.
I was a control freak when my children were very young. They had to to ask permission to do anything that was not within their routine or boundaries. I knew that sooner or later I would need to let them go at some point of their life to make their own decisions.
One of the challenge parents face with teenage children is when they ask not to go for Sunday service. Should we agree? The answer is No and Yes. No, because when our children are still young, parents should take charge and bring them to church as often as possible so that they can learn of God and the bible. As parents we have the responsibilities to train and instruct them as much as possible according to God’s word. Teaching them to follow instruction, teaching what is right and wrong and training them to use all that they have learned from the God’s Word to evaluate decision that they are going to make to ensure that it is wise decision. However when they reach teenage years, I believe we have to slowly let them go to make their own decision. And yes, some of them will make the unwise decision not to come to the church.
As parents what can we do and how do we react? I interacted with some parents who had experienced their teenage children leaving the church but came back later. And the following points were their suggestions.
First, parents must continue to be faithful followers of God. Unless parents are faithful in coming for church, their children who left church will find it meaningless to follow Christ while their parents are not faithful follower of Christ.
Second, parents should continue to make God the central focus of the family through daily conversation, prayer and family devotion.
Third, parents should continue to pray for their children and never give up on them.
And finally, I want to add that if we parents really feel that we have done our best to bring our children up in the fear of the Lord, then we have done our part as parents. When the time has come to let them go, we need to let them go. Only then can they truly own their faith in the Lord by facing the real test in the world. However I trust the good Lord will be with them wherever they go.
Preacher Alvin Lim
August 18, 2013