by: Dr. Allen Domelle
Every parent desires to protect their child from that which is wrong. It starts when they are first born, and you hold that precious baby in your arms. If it is the first child, the parent is so very careful about what atmosphere they place the child in because they don’t want them to get sick. The new parent is careful about handing the child over to someone else to hold because they don’t want their child dropped. When they hear the baby cry, the parent is quick to run to the child to see if there is something wrong; this is the natural protective spirit of every caring parent.
However, the child will grow up. There comes a point when a parent has to let the child get some bumps and bruises so that they will learn how to make it in life. The older they get, the more the parent struggles with letting their child become an adult because they still see that child as their little baby. If the parent isn’t careful, they will end up isolating the child to the point that they will have a hard time adapting to the pressures of life. Notice, the pressures of life, not the entertainment of the world.
There comes a point when every parent must allow their child to make some decisions on their own. If a parent isn’t careful, they will isolate their child to the point that they won’t know how to make it through life without running to dad and mom to make decisions. Let me be blunt; you won’t always be around for them. There is going to come a day when your children will have to live on their own and make their own decisions. They are not going to become the servant the LORD wants them to be if they have not been taught how to make the right decisions.
When I grew up, my parents did a great job of insulating me from the world, but not isolating me from life. They allowed me to work a job when I was 13 years of age, but they kept a close eye on my spiritual life and attitude towards the LORD. They made sure that I didn’t become friends with the wrong people. My parents taught me how to make the right scriptural decisions because they knew one day I would be on my own and wouldn’t be able to run to them for every decision. They didn’t isolate me from the world, but they did insulate me from the influences of the world.
Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” I know this verse is talking about marriage, but this verse shows that one day a man will leave his father and mother. It’s a fact of life; your children will not always be able to run to you. They need to grow up and learn how to make it on their own.
God says in Ephesians 6:4, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Nurturing your child is not isolating them; rather, it is teaching them how to face every aspect of life so they can make it without you. This is the parent’s primary responsibility.
Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” This verse teaches the principle of insulation verses isolation. A child can’t help but be around ungodly people because we live in a sinful world, but a godly parent will insulate them from getting counsel from the ungodly teaching and entertainment. God said that the person who doesn’t stand in the “way of sinners” will be blessed, but He didn’t say that we won’t be among sinners. Face it; we live in a world of sinners and scorners. You can’t isolate your child from this crowd, but you can insulate them from sitting with them and walking in their ways. To insulate your child means they are going to live in the world, but you don’t allow them to be like the world. It means that you keep them pointed towards God as they live in this world. The wise parent will learn to insulate their child from these influences while training them how to handle living in a world of these influences. Let me give you five thoughts about insulating your child.
1. Realize your child belongs to God.
Psalm 127:3 says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” The first thing you are going to have to overcome is the mentality that they’re your children, and you can do with them what you want. This is absolutely false! First, you didn’t give your child life, God did! You have to realize that a child is a gift to the parent by God. Second, children are on loan to the parents to raise for the LORD. Your responsibility as a parent is not to raise them to do what you want them to do, but to do what God wants them to do.
Stop trying to train your child to do what you want them to do, and raise them to do what God wants them to do. I believe one of the reasons parents isolate a child is so that the child becomes so dependent on them that they will never leave home. There is nothing wrong with a parent desiring that their child marries and lives close to them, but a parent must come to grips that this may not be what the LORD wants. You are going to have to let them do what the LORD wants because they belong to Him.
My parents never tried to keep me at home. They always trained me to follow the LORD’s will for my life. My parents NEVER put pressure on me to stay close to home. My dad, who was my pastor, never insinuated from the pulpit or at home that he wanted me to stay close to him. Did he want me to stay close? I’m sure he did, but he emphasized that I follow the LORD’s will for my life because he knew that I belonged to God.
If you never accept that your children are God’s, you will isolate them which will result in children not knowing how to live in a real world. I know what I am saying is not popular, but you must train them to follow the LORD because they belong to Him.
2. Your responsibility is to train them to answer to God; not you.
Yes, when your children are young they should come to you to learn what to do because you are their parent, but there must come a time when you start teaching them to run to God. When Samuel ran to Eli several times after hearing the voice of God, he finally told Samuel to tell the LORD that he was listening.
Your goal should be that your child’s first response to everything they do is to look to the LORD through the Scriptures and prayer for their answers. Certainly, a wise child will still ask their parent’s advice even when they are adults, but don’t isolate them from other wise counselors who can help them. My greatest advice I can give you is to point your children to God for every decision they must make.
3. You will never know how to help them unless you let them fail.
The wise parent will use failure to teach their child how to live life. Proverbs 29:17 says, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” Let me ask you, how are you going to correct your child if you never let them fail? Correction can only come after failure. Failure is what gives you the opportunity to teach them how not to do something wrong the next time. If you isolate your child and make every decision for them, they will never know how to make the right decisions on their own.
My parents often asked me what I wanted to do, but would then teach me if I made the wrong decision. They used the Scriptures to teach me principles that have helped me throughout my life. I have taken that same philosophy with my daughter. I look at any failure she has had and use it as a teaching moment to show her how to make a right decision the next time. By the way, I am not teaching that you should allow your child to sin; but I am teaching that you allow them to make decisions on their own and teach them why those decisions are right or wrong.
4. Trust your training; if you trained them right.
There comes a point when you have to trust your training. This is the hardest thing to do because every parent wonders if they really got through to their child. When I learned to fly airplanes, my instructor taught me how to fly, and when he felt I could do what he showed me to do, he allowed me to fly the plane on my own. This took total trust in his training that I knew what to do. Was there any doubt when he let me take off by myself the first time? I’m sure there was, but at some point he had to trust his training to let me fly the plane.
Likewise, every parent is going to have to trust their training if they trained them right. Proverbs 22:6 does say, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” If you train them according to the principles of God’s Word, you are going to have to trust them to do the right thing because you are not going to always be there.
5. Pray for them, and let the LORD work on their hearts.
Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” There comes a point when you are going to have to trust the LORD to work on their hearts. You should pray that they will do the right thing, and trust the LORD to convict them if they are about ready to do the wrong thing.
There is no doubt that every parent comes to a scary point when their child becomes an adult and has to make decisions on their own. Parent, can I gently encourage you that if you trained them right, they will do the right thing. You are not the first parent to face your child growing up, and many children have turned out right; including you. If you will learn the balance of insulating your children from the world and not isolating them from it, I believe you will be pleased with how your children handle the pressures the world puts on them. If you truly looked at many of the right decisions your child has already made, that should give you the confidence that they will do the right thing. If your child has a heart for God, I believe the LORD will protect them from those times that would ruin them because He cares MORE for your child than you do.