Parenting young kids

How do I keep my kids from being polluted by the world, yet still allow them to be the light in the darkness?

Scripture says, “Be in the world but not of the world.”  How does that work? We are to share Christ with others so they can come to know him so we have to interact with people who are do not yet know Jesus and do not hold the same values.  When children are younger, hopefully you can be in most of these situations with them so you can help provide authority and guidance. It is alright to be protective of your kids. God has given them to you to raise, guide, and protect.
How might this play out practically at a young age? Maybe you’re at a friend’s house and that family wants to let their young children watch a PG-13 movie.  You politely intervene on behalf of your children and suggest a different activity. If your kids see you being ‘brave’ they will learn to follow suit. As they get older give them permission to call and get you at anytime if needed if they get into a situation where they feel unsafe. It does take a lot of discernment and wisdom as you navigate your family friendships and then your kids’ friendships.  Make your home a safe, warm place so it is a place they desire to be and invite friend into. As for being a light, only those that have Jesus as their Savior can be light. If your children have not yet accepted Jesus as their Savior, it is still just you/spouse being the light to the world. You do need to teach them, however, to love people and remember that they themselves are imperfect as well, just maybe in different ways that may not seem so evident.  I have a sweet, young Christian friend who abhors drinking and has translated that into abhorring anyone who drinks and does not ever want to be around them. Her heart needs to soften a bit. Jesus hung out with sinners and people the world considered unworthy because they’re the ones that he said ‘Needed a doctor’ (Mark 2:17). He was God, yes, so He could certainly handle himself but he was also fully human. We need to learn to draw on the Holy Spirit to help guide us so we can be in less than perfect situations and show love. Teaching our children to draw on the truth of God’s Word along with the Holy Spirit is the best option. We even get to deal put this into practice with our brothers and sisters in Christ, because we too, are still imperfect!

How do I know what their spiritual gifts are, and how do I encourage those?

There is some debate if a person can have a spiritual gift before they are saved.  I would say that God has given us a bent towards certain abilities, and they are more fully expressed through the saving work of the power of the Holy Spirit.  We should also clarify what spiritual gifts are. Leading music is a gift and ability, that is indeed a blessing from God but not a spiritual gift. The spiritual gifts are listed in Romans 12:6-8.  Giftings are for building up the body of the Church and range in diversity so that the body can be fully built up. After all, not everyone is an eye. We are all supposed to do most of these things as a core discipline of our faith but some people have an extra measure of that gifting.  For example, we are all supposed to give financially but some people may be specifically called to give the majority or almost all of their income. In contrast, some people receive a gift of prophecy (truth speaker), however, and this is a gift not everyone receives. As for your children, sometimes gifting are discovered by trial and error and what you see them naturally gravitating towards.  As they grow and mature in their faith, their gifting may change slightly as they learn how to use them effectively. There are online ‘tests’ you can take to try and help determine gifting. It has been my observation, however, that the questions on these surveys require a pretty broad range of experiences that even a high school student would not be able to answer well. The best thing to do for now is just start getting your kids involved in serving somewhere periodically, if they are old enough to do so (probably at least 10) and then see where that leads you over the years.

Should moms of young kids stay home with them?

There is not a black and white rule on this in scripture.  God has indeed made women more nurturing and there is an admonition in Titus 2:4-5 to be keepers at home – ‘older women encourage the younger women… to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind…’. If you read Proverbs 31:10-31 you will see this woman has taken on a variety of roles in her lifetime from business woman to household manager, ‘She looks for wool and household flax..she brings her food from afar…she considers a field and buys it and from her earnings plants a vineyard.. she manages her household…she makes linen garments and sells them…’ This is a lady who is smart economically, able to make business decisions, organizes people and runs at minimum her own micro-businesses.  This glimpse of her life is probably over the course of a lifetime, but she is certainly industrious. In Genesis, Adam was put in charge of the Garden but the inference was that Eve would help as well. I personally, have seen very healthy results from stay-at-home moms and working moms. I would, however, always encourage a mom who wants to stay home and is able to, to do so. There is great value and being able to guide and direct the training and teaching of a child, and we know scripture clearly states that parents are in charge of the training of their children. This direction is never given over to anyone else; not a daycare provider, the government or a school.

Grown Kids

Limits on helping vs. letting them struggle

In an ideal situation, your kids are walking with the Lord in high school and desire to pursue a deeper relationship with Him by self-study, being in an accountability group and attending church.  We have had both this desire and the opposite in our own family. Because we know we have laid a solid foundation and our kids ultimately need to make their own choices, we have had one child that we have had to let go of our expectations more.  We cannot force them to grow spiritually. While they are still under our roof, however, we do ask that they continue Bible reading both on their own and with us, continue to pray with us, and continue church attendance. We’ve also included an apologetic component.  Our child, who has not been super excited about all things spiritual, was still willing to do these things. I believe that is simply because the standard had always been there. Once they are on their own, however, this child is likely to stop these pursuits. Our prayer will be that this is temporary.  
For our believing children, it is just fun to hear what the Lord is doing in their lives and to also hear what they are learning.  We also decided we wanted to do something more intentional so when we happen to be all together, we have started sharing communion. I am not suggesting you do this in your home. Not everyone is comfortable with that, but there are a lot of options.  I know one family who does a time of thankfulness. Everyone keeps going around the circle just thanking God for different things and it is one of their favorite activities. We also continue to read and discover books and materials as well that show us new insights about Jesus and we will share these books with our kids.  We also let them know when we’ve seen a movie that was encouraging to our faith. As they’ve personally selected churches as adults we’ve openly discussed that they need to familiarize themselves with the churches doctrine, talk to some people in leadership and attend for a time so they can make sure they are attending a biblically solid church before they jump into serving or joining.

How do you honor your parents appropriately as you are grown?

I think just making sure you continue to include them in your life (unless it is a super unhealthy situation). A great way to do this is to think about what you will want to do with your kids when they are grown and gone.  Will you still want to see them at Holidays sometimes? Will you want to spend a weekend once a year with them? Will you want to be able to drop by their house once a week? Will you want to have dinner once a month? And the answer is, of course, you’ll probably want to see them as much as they are willing, but you have to give them balance in their new life, too.  Parents expectations may be high. Give them some grace but be firm in your new commitments to your spouse. If you are the oldest child, the adjustment to having you marry, move out, and have kids is new to your parents too. They are navigating all this for the first time. I heard a story from a Pastor once about boundaries. We’ll name him Jim. Jim and his wife had driven their fairly new baby several hours to meet his/her new grandparents.  It happened to be nap time when they arrived and they were set on keeping the baby on schedule. The grandparents, of course, just wanted to hold and ogle over the baby. Jim firmly said, ‘No. It is time for his/her nap, but we will be here for several days and you can hold him/her as much as you want, just not right now.’ The grandparents couldn’t’ contain themselves and would not comply. Jim and his wife took the baby, went to a hotel, put the baby down for a nap and came back a few hours later.  This seems a bit harsh, but the message was clear. We are the new ‘family unit’ and we have our own authority structure. How did they still respect and honor the parents in this situation? Well, they were driving there for the visit and they did indeed allow the grandparents significant time with the baby once the rules were established. The grandparent/parent relationship was still honored and important. You will have conflict with extended family just like you have conflict in your immediate family. Holidays tend to be one of those very emotional hot issues that you will have to work through. It is OK to say you are going to carve out some time for your own family over the Holidays and celebrate Christmas with your extended family on the 26th, as an example. You should, however, be careful to not show partiality over one spouse’s family.  Women, this is for you, you tend to prefer to spend time with your own mothers, but your husband’s family deserves equal time, too, not just on Holidays. Nurture that relationship. If you have boys, remember, you are also setting a future precedent for them in spending time with you! Circling back to the admonition to leave and cleave – in Genesis 2:24 this is for the husband/wife bond to be the new stronger band than any former family relationships.  It is interesting to note, however, that people used to live much more multi-generationally than they do know. This is almost unheard of in the United States except in Hawaii where it has become more common as housing is almost unaffordable for one family and one generation. In the OT it was common for the husband to add a room to his parent’s house and bring his wife there to live. Yet, even in this situation, he and his new wife were to clearly set boundaries for their new relationship.  This would have been quite essential, especially when the family was living in community. Today our boundaries may have more to do with how many times we are supposed to visit our parents versus who is cooking lunch for the extended live-in family today!

Discipline

Does the bible command spanking as the method of disciplining your children?

No, there is not a verse that specifically says ‘spanking’ but it does say ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’.  The rod in OT times was very similar to a shepherd staff. A shepherd might use his staff to guide the direction of a sheep when it was wandering into danger or too far from the rest of the flock.  It was a protective measure but also used for correction. Spanking can be a very effective method of discipline in young children. Remember, it is discipline (making a disciple) not punishment. It should be done to help guide a child to put away foolishness in their decisions as they grow older and recognize the good guidance of their parents under God’s authority starting at a young age.  We want children to start recognizing in adolescence and into adulthood that there are a lot of things they will want to do that are not the best choices or even really bad choices and then have enough self-discipline to be able to deny themselves (the desire of their flesh) in order to make good decisions without anyone else present to help them choose. Remember, the goal of parenting is to raise godly adults, not just well behaved kids.

How do you discipline a 5 year old, 10 year old and 16 year old?

Every age and child is different.  Psalm 127:4 says, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.”  What is probably lost on us in reading this verse in today’s culture is that each arrow was specially handcrafted by the warrior.  Since you couldn’t buy them pre-manufactured, you had to carefully make your own arrows and then each arrow had to be shot out of the warriors bow with individual and unique precision to hit the target because they did not fly the same. You would never be able to find two tree limbs, rocks for to be chipped into the arrowhead, or even a have a silversmith make arrows that would be identical. The analogy here is that a child is like an arrow in the sense that each is unique but the end goal is the same.  You are to mold and craft the arrow to get to the target. Starting from this frame of reference, your goal is to train each child to have a love for the Lord along with helping him/her to become a functioning adult that can effectively contribute to society, raise their own family, and have a love for the Lord. Keeping this in mind as the end ‘target’, your discipline for three five year olds with different bents and personalities might have some variations. In general, however, by age five your child can start comprehending your reason for discipline better than a three year old.  Spankings are probably pretty much over by five or six. The more time you spend working on guidance at a young age, typically the less time you will spend having to make corrections when a child is older.
Let’s consider this a little more specifically now.  A five year old who doesn’t pick up after himself/herself when asked should certainly lose the privilege of the toy for a day or longer if needed as long as they have been trained since they were a toddler that the expectation is to pick-up and they have been helped by a parent to learn this skill.  A ten year old who leaves their bike out in the rain for the third time should probably lose their bike privilege for a time and do some extra chores around the house. They need to miss the family bike ride as well if something like that was planned as an activity within the week. This is a hassle for Mom and Dad, you’ll have to get a sitter, but it will be a very good lesson in the long run.  A sixteen year old who refuses to clean up his/her room might have to sleep on the couch for a few nights and will still need to clean their room before they get the privilege of having it back. Or maybe the state of the room is not the highest priority at sixteen and there are other more pressing issues you want to correct. We’ve all heard the saying ‘pick your battles’. This will be good advice for parents of teenagers.  Balance your authority with love overall. Regardless of how well you handled training your child, you may still end up with a sixteen year old who has no desire to follow the Lord and instead wants to partake in all the world has to offer. You are still the parents in authority and you should have general expectations of your child like a curfew, helping around the house some, and taking care of their own things. There will be a balance of figuring out how to show your child respect and love, however, even if you don’t fully agree with all his/her choices.  You will still need to protect them from bad decisions that could put them in danger as best as possible. Practically speaking, you may have to stand back and watch a slightly rebellious child fail a test or even a class if they are not willing to take advice and apply themselves. You may refuse to let this same child go out with a friend who you know is using drugs, however. The book “Love and Logic” by Jim Fay has some great guidance for all ages. Remember, for all stages, don’t exasperate your children with unrealistic expectations and be on the same page with your spouse if married and/or be consistent whether single or married.

How do I discipline with grace?

I think the best way is remembering that love covers all.  1 Cor 13: 1-8 shows us that we need to have love as the overarching principle in all we do. Are we going to fail in this as parents? Yes. But if we start becoming legalistic in our concern to make ‘perfect’ children, we’ve lost the end goal.  We want them to love and serve others and see themselves as valuable before God. Remember the term discipling comes from discipline. We are discipling our kids. That gives us a slightly different focus. We do want to train them in obedience so they will be more self-disciplined to obey God, but they might do 50 things that need correction every day when they are little and that gets pretty exhausting. Just redirect them and tell them no, kindly.  Use corporal punishment (i.e. spankings) sparingly. If the day has been especially grueling, you may need a few moments to just be silly together. Turn on some dance music and jump around or whatever might infuse some ‘grace’ into the moment.

How to avoid punishment from emotions?

The best advice is to pull yourself out of the situation for 15 or 20 minutes when needed to gain control before deciding a correction, if it is needed.  Don’t make rash decisions. A small toddler does need correction fairly quickly, however. In twenty minutes, they might not even remember they did something wrong.  Toddlers are exhausting though, too so err on the side of not punishing if you are doing it out of anger. Just tell them what they did wrong and collect yourself. A high school student, however, may know exactly what to do to push your buttons and pull you into a confrontation.  Recognize that you need to maintain control of your emotions. You are the adult. Even if a child says things like, ‘You always yell at me!’ or “You never let me do things with my friends!” Just know they WILL do this and speak truth to yourself. You can say that is not true and let them rant but don’t let them pull you into that battle.  The book “Love and Logic” has some good tips here. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” and James 1:19 says, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” There is great wisdom in these two verses for both parenting and life!

What are your views on spanking? How often? When?

There is not a set rule on spanking but my observation is that it is effective up until age five or six. Spank for a purpose and explain why you are correcting the behavior.  Hug your child after the spanking. A swift swat on the bottom might be necessary for a two year old. It may be used occasionally beyond the years of five or six, but you can give more meaningful consequences beyond that age that a child can comprehend and rationalize.  I also think spanking should be infrequent. I would call it a corporal punishment for a situation in which a child has been defiantly rebellious as an example or you need to reinforce their safety. I.e. Do not run out into traffic! If they have disobeyed you want them to associate this with pain when they are young to get their attention so they don’t get hit by a car. Remember that there are other options besides spanking. A lot of people are successful with time outs.  A good rule of thumb is to not have a timeout be longer than one minute for each year old they are (i.e. 3 minutes for a 3 year old, etc). They can’t be expected to sit in the corner for 20 minutes when that young. That is ‘forever’ for a little child. The best punishments are linked to the behavior though.  For example, you need to pick up your toys (Mom or Dad helping do and teach when they are very young alongside the child). If they refuse, they lose the privilege or playing with that toy for a set time and should probably be sent to their room to lay quietly on their bed for a time as well.

General

How do I help my kids develop their own faith and not just be copying my own?

When they are little, they really are just copying your faith and that is OK.  As they grow older, encourage them by having them ask questions and spending some time studying apologetics together. Apologetics are just a defense of why you believe what you believe and could be on any topic from historical backing of scripture to logical reasoning why it is true.  C.S Lewis’ Mere Christianity is a good resource that has impacted many people positively.  There are many options out there from organizations like Focus on the Family to Answers in Genesis. The RightNowMedia app also has apologetic resources. (If you don’t have an account for RightNowMedia contact val@crossroadspeosta.org to get a login for free)  When our children were young we read Pilgrim’s Progress and talked about what was happening. We also read the Chronicles of Narnia in which Aslan, the Lion, represents Christ. As soon as your children are able to read at a fourth or fifth grade level I would encourage you to have them start reading a Bible on their own. We presented our kids with their own ‘adult’ Bible as a little ceremony in our family and all three children read through the entire Bible, on their own, by the time they were eleven. They occasionally needed reminders but were actually excited to read it. I had just read through Job with my youngest before he got his Bible and told him he could skip that book when he got to it.  He said, “No way! I love that story!” And when he got to Job, he read it again. The Adventure Bible or Young Reader editions are good. On Sunday morning we teach from the New Living Translation (NLT) due to its readability. They aren’t quite as challenging to read as the English Standard Version (ESV) translation, for example. You don’t want them to get discouraged, and these mid-level Bibles still tell the full stories. Encourage them to go to a Christian summer camp or on high school youth retreats and/or mission trips. This takes them out of your home environment and is a place they can explore their spirituality safely on their own.

How do I lead my kids spiritually?

Although this feels daunting sometimes, the method is pretty basic.  Read scripture with them. Talk about it. Talk about what God is doing in your life or what you see him doing in someone else’s life.  Teach them that the Bible is true and the stories are not make believe. They are real events. They happened just like the Little League game your child played in last week. Also, pray with your kids.  Live out an authentic faith in front of them. What might a typical day look like? Read a few verses from Proverbs over dinner, before school or before bed depending on what works best for your family. If you have young children, read a story about Moses or Noah out of a children’s Bible.  We have found the “Jesus Storybook Bible” to be an awesome resource that points every story in the Bible to Jesus. Once you know some of these stories yourself, you can also talk about them when you are on a car ride. Find opportunities in your schedule together. A practical lesson might also be something like this.  You are at Lowe’s looking at tools.  You say, “Do you see how God made this hammer?  What does a hammer do? (Hammer nails). Yep, that is what God designed it to do. What does a screwdriver do…. God has given you some unique abilities also.  It may take you awhile to discover those, but remember a hammer and a screwdriver do two different things. There will be some things you’re good at that your friends aren’t and visa versa.  And that is all good. God has given you your own set of strengths and abilities so we can all help and serve each other. We don’t use screwdrivers to pound nails, that wouldn’t work. And God created you uniquely also. It will be fun to see what God has planned for you.  You don’t have to have epic lessons everyday.  Just remember to be intentional so Sunday is a complement to life at home, not the only place for your kids to learn spirituality. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 in reference to God’s commandments says, “And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that 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.”

What are ways to disciple to lead them to the gospel- not just obedience?

Same as above and then take interest in what they’re interested in doing.  One of our friends learned how to hunt because his son wanted to hunt. That was a big investment of time and energy, but it showed the son that his Dad loved him enough to take the time and energy to pursue something alongside his son even though it wasn’t necessarily the Dad’s first desire.  And Dad did end up liking to hunt, too! A simpler way is just giving our kids our full attention when they are talking. Obviously some kids talk more and there is a balance to teaching them to stop and listen also, but in general we’re pretty distracted by our ‘to do’ lists or our phones. We need to remember daily to just focus on conversation for a few minutes.  Repeat back what our kids say and seek to understand, even if they are two!

I’ve seen some families that have many generations of believers, how do I start that if I’m the first one to believe in Jesus in my family?

Pray for this.  If you are a believer before you start having children, start praying right away that God will provide children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who will know and love Him and pursue Him.  This is the single best thing you can do. Pray for your child’s future spouse or if they are chosen to remain single that they would impact others for the Kingdom. God actually provides a promise in Exodus, repeated in Deuteronomy.  He is talking to the children of Israel, but we are grafted into the family line as believers so this promise is for us also. There is an obedience aspect first though. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity (sin) of the fathers on the children on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving kindness to thousands [a thousand generations] to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  Exodus 20: 1b-6. Pray and be faithful to God. He loves our kids more than we do. Join in the work He wants to do in our kids hearts by guiding them and praying for them.

How does authority in parenting work?

God has put parents in charge of their children.  The best way this is laid out is in Ephesians. Curiously (or maybe not) it starts with a description of how married parents life should look. Ephesians 5:18b starts with “..be filled with the spirit…” right before it gives marriage instruction.  Read this section all the way through from Ephesians 5:18b – 6:4 and even more ideally to the end of Ephesians! It is chalked full of good life application. This section, although written for married couples, can certainly have application to a single parent. That solo parent will have final say alone.  Also, when children are living in two different households because of divorce or other situations, you can only model this when they are in your home. You can’t control what happens in the other living situation. First and foremost, the parent (whether single or married) needs to be pursuing God. Interestingly enough, as listed above, the scripture teaching starts with a heart of praise from the parents before we even get to any instruction about obedience from the children.  Obedience from the children is the end point. The words are for the parent(s) to be speaking to one another in songs and hymns and spiritual songs and making melodies in their heart. This is the preface before Paul lays out how the marriage should work and then out of that how the kids should be responding. I don’t know about you, but I do not do very well going around singing songs of praise to my spouse or just randomly around my home or workplace. Colossians has an identical teaching starting in 3:16. The reason authority can work well is because your heart is turned towards God and you are asking your children to obey because it will go well with them for life if they do so.  If authority is simply used as power over a child you will almost definitely end up with rebellious children. There is a generalized promise in scripture that the results of good training will generally produce a positive outcome. Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart.” Proverbs are guiding principles and not promises, but this scripture should be seen as a great encouragement. God has given you the authority structure and kids naturally understand that. If we are consistent and provide reasonable expectations in our training we will probably see good results.

How do you foster your kids having good relationships with one another?

This is indeed challenging because everyone brings their sin nature to the family relationship.  Sometimes we feel too free to indulge our emotions and our personality flaws in our family. I have a friend who I have seen model this really well though.  She just loves on her kids and encourages the same out of them. Their family is a strong unit, and they try to have fun and laugh together on a regular basis. They play a lot of games together.  Saying things to your kids like, “We’re team _______(fill in your last name)” are good ways to teach this too. Another family does a special clap at the end off each meal. It is unique to their family and gives them a special connection that identifies them as belonging together. The world can be a hard place.  Make home a safe place and nurture this idea of belonging together. One major suggestion for a ‘do not’: Don’t say negative things about one child in front of another. Everyone lives together so they can see each other’s weaknesses already. This only serves to influence negativity and also actually makes your children insecure.  A child’s natural thought response is: If you are complaining about him what are you saying about me when I’m not around?  Correct in private when at all possible.  This teaches them a level of respect for one another. Don’t undermine the work you are doing to encourage good relationships. And you will have normal life. Boys will wrestle; girls will have drama (as stereotypical examples) but just keep encouraging them.  And parents be encouraging to each other!

How do you handle the situation of your kids hanging out with bad influences?

This will probably vary a lot by age.  You may actually need to provide more structure here for a teenager than you did for a preschooler.  It really depends. We had a neighbor that would have hung out at our house everyday from the time school got out until bed if we had allowed it. And he was hard to be around and brought in some bad influences. We had to set-up parameters and actually made every Sunday off limits for him to visit.  And he could see our kids playing outside, without him, and he was an only child. It was awkward but needed. With your teenager you will need to provide structure, but additionally you will need to be wise to research his friends. You won’t know all the parents anymore as they get older like you might have when they were seven. You want your family to be a witness to non-believers but you have to have a balance leaning more heavily into families with the same mind-set and values when your kids are developing.

When your teenager pays for their own phone and service, how do you set up cell phone guidelines; when not to use it (...during family time and such), how much they use it, and if you find out they are misusing it...when the other parents who pay for their kids' cell phone might take it away (what to do about it)?

That is challenging when they purchased their phone.  You still have to explain to them that they live in your house and are under your guidance.  The standards you have for their phone are to help them. And, they get to use everything in your house that you have paid for, correct?  The sink, the toilet, their bedroom, their sheets, the fridge, the food… You get the idea. They will probably argue back with you, but just state the facts and stay firm. Don’t get embroiled in an argument. Again, the book “Parenting with Love and Logic” might be helpful here.
This is also an opportunity to teach stewardship.  Even something that is purchased with their own money really ultimately belongs to God.  As parents we can model that with how we treat our own things. Are we self-focused on our “things” or do we treat what we own as belonging to God.  With our kids, we are supposed to be that authority figure that they learn to listen to, respect and obey. The area of something they purchased should be no different.

How do you address child questions when see something on tv that is not of christian standards? (Example: same sex marriage, cross dresser)

This is a good question given today’s environment.  You do need to explain to your kids why this is not acceptable. But you should begin when they are young teaching them about a healthy husband/wife relationship and why this is good and God’s design. God designed men to be men and women to be women with loving intent to provide them with blessings.  You don’t need to go into the physical details when they are little but eventually you need to do that and better sooner than later as the world will educate them if you don’t. If you are reading through the Bible with your kids, you will hit every topic from homosexuality to rape as well. It definitely requires conversation. Make sure your kids feel comfortable coming to you for these types of questions.  Explain God’s love for people in those situations (LGBTQ) and how we should love people that may feel marginalized, but why it is still not appropriate to accept the behavior if they are acting on it. Explaining this to a five year old versus a thirteen year old is going to require different levels of detail. This is a super hot topic right now, of course, and media, businesses and schools are trying to normalize this way of life.  If the child is watching this on TV in your own home, I would simply curb watching any shows or movies that try to make this look like something acceptable. Our kids are going to get this message from other places so don’t keep reinforcing it. But do talk about it. As mentioned earlier, if you really like to watch movies, check out Pure Flix and download the app “Kids Media”.
Back on topic, the ‘world’ is going to try to silence you and say you are not loving and are bigoted and homophobic, but that is not true.  You potentially have some of your own gay friends or family members and you probably do like them. Or maybe you think Ellen DeGeneres is funny. You also probably like the neighbor who swears sometimes, the neighbor who uses alcohol too much and the nephew that is living with his girlfriend.  Are those things appropriate? No. Should you teach about them? Yes. Homosexuality is a topic we need to spend some time considering. For more detail check out thegospelcoalition.org “How Do I Talk to my Kids about Homosexuality?”, ChristianityToday.com “How to Talk to Your Kids About Homosexuality”, and Focus on the Family.  Focus on the Family has books, resources, and studies on this topic.

What is an appropriate amount of screen time?

Pediatricians actually recommend no more than one hour of screen time per day for children ages 2-5 and two hours a day for older children. Since homework is often done on a screen this can be tricky to comply with but parents should obviously use their discretion. Screen time is not recommended at all prior to age two.  Some people have tried to limit screen time to 30 minutes per day until their kids were about 10. There are exceptions, of course, as families watch movies together periodically and if the kids were at a friend’s they might play video games. It is really easy to use screen time to ‘babysit’, but work hard to avoid this habit.  Remember, people got along for 1000’s of years with no audio visual and kids need to learn to use their imaginations and entertain themselves! Also, along this line, pay attention to what your kids are watching. Just because a movie or TV show is rated G does not mean the program is appropriate and a PG-13 movie might have a really great moral lesson if you fast forward through a couple parts. Use your wisdom and discretion to see if the program is ultimately glorifying God and teaching something that is not undermining scripture. This is very difficult in today’s day and age.  Showing people in bed together before they are married, using God’s name in vain, showing people scantily clad are almost the norms. There is a new movie option out called Pure Flix that would be worth checking out. Also, we would recommend downloading the app “Kids Media” from Common Sense Media to help with making decisions about what movies or shows are ok to watch or not.