We were having a perfectly lovely day running errands, going to story time at the library, and shopping for Daddy’s anniversary present. The kids were on their best behavior, so I decided to treat the kids to lunch before we finished our shopping. We were enjoying our lunch as well when Hannah decided that she wanted to tease Ephraim with the straw wrapper, knocking over her milk in the process! While I was down on my hands and knees cleaning up the milk (because the people at Target refused to help me mop it up), I noticed that there was also a clear puddle around Hannah’s chair. That’s right – Hannah decided that she no longer wanted to be a big girl and so peed in her pants, all over the chair, and onto the floor! So back out into the rain we went, heading to the car to get her a change of clothes. Sigh. I still had some shopping I had to complete, so back through the mud puddles – did I mention it was raining? – we sloshed back into the store. In the bathroom, Hannah started screaming because she did not like the change of clothes, she was in trouble, and she couldn’t believe her shoes had gotten wet! It was one of those moments when you think that the whole world must be pointing their fingers and declaring, “What a horrible mother! How can she let her children act like that?”
The fact is that Hannah is a sinner. Just like you and me. Nowadays, I keep hearing people tell me that it’s “just a phase” or (my least favorite), “Not Hannah! She’s a little angel!” When I am struggling with my child, this is not a helpful thing to hear! What do these sort of comments do? They take the blame off of Hannah – an innocent child, so to speak – and place the blame on me as the mom, God for making her that way, her environment for shaping her, etc. But at no time is she held responsible for her actions with this philosophy of thinking!
So many people look at children (including infants) and see only innocence, but each and every one of us is born a sinner. We are sinners from the very moment we are conceived; and when our newborn cries out because he is demanding to be fed, he is demonstrating his sinful nature of thinking only of himself. When my three-year-old screams in the store, it is her sinful temper rearing its ugly head. We may not want to hear that our precious child could be that wicked, but the truth is that “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9).
The world is trying to convince us that our children deserve the very best. But if we believe Rom. 3:23 that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” then that has to include our children, too. Therefore, we must conclude that what they truly deserve is eternal damnation to hell. Just like we need the mercy of God, so do our children!
Perhaps that’s why fathers are admonished to “not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). And maybe that’s why parents are commanded in Prov. 22:6 to “train a child in the way he should go.” If they are already perfect, then why do we need to waste our time by training them? Don’t they already know the way?
Why do you think there is an obesity epidemic among our children these days? The CDC reported that 17 percent (or 12.5 million) children in the United States are obese! The report also stated that there is no state in the nation that is under 20 percent obese. Imagine those numbers! Is it really because McDonald’s opened on the corner, or is it because someone didn’t want to say “no” to their children?
The truth is that our children need a Savior. They need Him so desperately that their “innocent” hearts are ready and willing to accept Him – if only we remember to tell them about why they need Him so badly. Why should a child who is told every day that they are perfect seek a Savior to make them so? Why do they need anyone to help them if they can do everything on their own? If everything is handed to them on a silver platter, why rock the boat?
As I struggle with raising godly children, I am constantly aware of my own inability to save them. Teaching them that they “deserve” only good things will only hurt them! But teaching them that what they deserve is an eternity in hell can help point them to the One who can save them and will when they are ready to ask.
P.S. A really good book I recommend on this subject is Ken Ham’s and Steve Ham’s book, Raising Godly Children in an Ungodly World.