Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 15:11
11 - "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man."
One of the hardest lessons to teach our children as parents is making them understand this simple scripture above. Whatever comes out of our mouths reveals what is in our hearts and if we have not guarded our hearts properly then we expose the filth and dirt and sin that we carry with us.
Today's pre-teens and teenagers are not like teenagers were when I was growing up. There is more information available to the teenagers today that is not healthy or wholesome for them. The internet has provided a whole new stage for pornography, for violent video games, for games that dabble with the occult, and everything in between. There are apps for their smartphones that they have access too, many for free, that are not appropriate for anyone, much less a teenager. Kids are learning how to speak, how to treat each other, how to talk to members of the opposite sex using the various means of technology. There is such widespread use of these apps and their foul language, inappropriate pictures, and other things that the kids believe this is the way to treat and talk to each other.
It can be so difficult to raise a child to follow the precepts of Christ each day they are in the public school system. They are exposed to so many different things that do not line up with, and in some cases even challenge, the Word of God. They have ridiculous peer pressure to conform to what their "friends" are doing and saying. Our children do not yet understand the concept of "come out and be separate." They are still trying to just "fit in" and find their place in this world...when their place is NOT IN THIS WORLD! But how would they know that when they are bombarded so many times on a daily basis with the imagery and message that they should fit in and belong. The message our children should be receiving at home and through their youth groups is:
Romans 12:2 - And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Our children...yes teenagers are still children...should be taught what Romans 12:2 means. They should be learning to pray, to speak the good things and to listen to the good report of the Lord. The only way to renew our minds is by spending time with the Lord daily...and our children are not excluded from spending their own time with Him. It starts with an example for home; it starts with an example in their parents.
Proverbs 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
The above scripture clearly tells parents we should train our children in the ways of the Lord. IF we train and teach them in the ways of the Lord, then they will not depart from the ways they are taught when they are older. It takes growth and maturity and the right examples for our children to learn. It takes reinforcement in the home of the proper way to live and behave. It takes reinforcement in the home of the right things to say and the wrong things to say. There cannot be an attitude of "Do as I say, not as I do" among parents. If that is the attitude we display, then we develop a sense of rebellion and "the rules don't apply to me" attitude in our children. Why do they have to do what we are asking when we don't do it?
When I am training a new team member in my office, I teach them our policies and procedures. I introduce them to our electronic medical records system and how to process intakes and all that goes with the office administration of a home health agency. But I don't continue to do the work for them. I turn it all over to them eventually and see them put into practice what they have learned. They are always slow at first. The team member always makes mistakes and asks endless questions...until they become more comfortable and confident in their position and knowledge of the system and our operating procedures.
Training a child in the ways of the Lord is no different. They will make mistakes. They will ask questions. They will be unsure of what to do until they are confident in their standing with the Lord in their OWN relationship with Him. As parents we must be patient, good instructors, gentle correctors, and examples they can use to live by.