You teach your children how to walk, talk, eat with a spoon, figure out which shoe goes on which foot. No problem. You’ve got this. But sometimes, it can be hard to know what you should teach your children—especially when you’re not even sure about the right thing to do yourself.
On your way home, you passed someone on a street corner asking for money. Your coworker called asking you to cover for her … again. Your boss wants you to champion a project you’re sure is doomed to fail. Your brother is mad at your sister, and they’re dragging you into the middle of it, while your mom’s ranting about political stuff on social media. Oh, and your spouse just lost it and yelled at you.
All of these situations can be tricky because they scream at us to act emotionally. That’s not right, you tell yourself, so you breathe, count to 10, then … what?
Well, then your kids come home with their own tricky situations.
“Mom, I swear my teacher hates me.”
“Kellen made fun of me again, and this time everyone laughed at me.”
“I feel left out, but I’m scared to make a friend.”
“My friend is always sad. What should I do to help him?”
How can you balance the choices you need to make and tell your kids what’s right, too?
Short answer: you can’t. All of the right answers come from God, but although knowing His will can get easier over time, we’re clearly not omniscient, so we’ll never know what’s right all the time.
That’s not a lovely, crystal-clear, tied-up-neatly-with-a-bow kind of answer, is it? But we’ve got to embrace the murky area for what it is and look at it as a chance to grow, to mature, and to remember that you can’t figure this life out on your own.
Knowing what’s right is a lifelong journey. Here are a few ways you can begin that journey with your family so you can teach your children what’s right, even when you’re not always sure yourself.
- Learn God’s way. This comes before there’s a choice to make. Be an example for your family by making the study of God’s Word, spiritual conversations, and quiet time with God an everyday, normal thing. Read the Bible or a kids’ Bible with your children, memorize Scriptures as a family, and talk about what it means to spend quiet time with God. As you and your kids grow closer to God and learn more about His ways, it becomes easier to know what’s right and to discern God’s will in tricky situations.
- Learn from leaders. God can reveal His wisdom to us through the trusted leaders He’s given us. When you’re not sure what’s right, look to them to lead you in the right direction, and teach your children to do the same. Your kid (or maybe even you) might not always feel happy about the message from Proverbs 1:8, but it is sound advice to learn from the leaders God has placed in your life. Help your children identify who their trusted leaders are (coaches, teachers, counselors, small group leaders, babysitters, etc.) so they know where to turn when they need to know what’s right.
- Learn from mistakes. When you have a decision to make, think through what you’ve done in similar situations in the past and how it turned out. No one likes learning the hard way, but God can use our past failures (and the failures of others) to lead us toward the right choices in the future. Drive the lesson home with your kids by memorizing Proverbs 26:11 as a family. Repeating the same mistake over and over? Well, that’s just as bad as a dog eating its puke! Gross!
- Ask God. God promises in His Word to give us wisdom when we ask for it. Engage in ongoing conversation with God and help your kids to do the same. Thank Him throughout the day, tell Him what’s on your mind, and it will become easier to go to Him, first, for clarity. Help your kids get used to a lifestyle of prayer by asking them what they’re thankful for each day and giving them chances to share their hearts with God around the dinner table, on the way home from school, or right before bed.