“Commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your foreheads as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9
Remember the poem “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?” Often posted in elementary school classrooms, it is an instruction “manual” I remember seeing many times in my childhood. It listed many of the principles we must learn and remember in this life like playing fair, sharing, and oh, yes….milk and cookies.
However, in trying to deal with the not so glorious moments of parenting a teen this week, I quickly discovered that what I learned in kindergarten did not prepare me for the conversations we have to have as parents in this day and age. Nothing I learned as a 5 year old prepared me for teaching my children about the dangers of social media, how to tolerate the constant influx of information, how to overcome all the evil that surrounds them, or how to decipher the “good” from the “downright bad.” As a 5 year old, I didn’t have to conceive of an age of inappropriate selfies and twerking! That poster that was so prevalent in my childhood, does not come close to helping instruct our children on the way in which to live today!
Don’t worry, parents! There is an instruction manual that helps us teach our children how to act, how to live, how to overcome evil, and how to handle social media overkill.
It’s the Bible.
Still not convinced that everything you really need to know to parent children in our modern age can be found in the Bible? Well, read on.
- Don’t take things that aren’t yours. “You must not steal” Exodus 20:15. Pretty simple, huh?
- Say you are sorry, and accept the apologies of others. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13
- It is perfectly acceptable to rest and take a nap! Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile” Mark 6:31. Yes, even Jesus had to rest!
- Remember The Golden Rule…and remember that it originally appeared in the Bible. “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” Matthew 7:12
- Treat everyone with love and respect. “Love each other, just as I have loved you.” John 13:34
- Watch what you say, tweet, or Facebook! Set a guard over my mouth Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
- Remember your body is holy; don’t disrespect it. You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you, and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. So use your body to honor God. 1 Corinthians 6:19,20
- Stay true to your friends, but true to your enemies as well. “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” Luke 6:27-28
- Beauty really does live on the inside. “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
- Share everything you have. “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” John 3:11
- And finally…never forget who has instructed you in the way to live. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go” Psalm 32:8.
Because, instruction for our daily lives certainly did not come from a poster on a teacher’s classroom wall, and it definitely doesn’t stop after kindergarten, after you become a teenager, after you become a parent. Open your Bible. Tie these instructions to your wrists and doorposts, so that when the next dance craze hits the social media sites again, when your teen has messed up, or when you just need a nap, you will be well equipped to instruct your children in the ways they should live.