Don’t Fall for the DPTHLTCTOP Method of Raising Your Kids
Do you want to help your kids?
This might seem like a silly question. You might be thinking that I’ve lost my grip on reality for asking something so inane and obvious. But, I think there is greater depth to this question and the answer than we might know. In fact, there is a possibility that you are doing more to harm your kids than help them.
Of course every parent wants to help. There is something in every parent (well, nearly every parent) that innately desires to do everything within our power to help our kids. This help looks different for every parent and child of course, but we all want to help.
Maybe we start teaching money management at a very young age so our kids will not get into financial trouble. Maybe we make sure our kids have the coolest clothes and shoes so other trendy kids will like them. Maybe we enroll our smaller than average child in martial arts class to make sure bully’s learn their lesson. I can see where each of these would be considered help.
But one area where parents often have a great impact in their kids’ lives without even knowing it is in the area of faith. I’ve often found the different approaches parents take to “teaching faith” to their kids very curious. The method that often causes me the greatest pause is the “don’t-push-too-hard-let-them-choose-their-own-path” method; or DPTHLTCTOP for short (because who doesn’t love a good acronym these days?).
This path is a “hands off” approach that prefers to sit back and let kids develop their own brand of faith, whatever that may look like. It sounds good on the surface, very friendly, accommodating, discovery oriented, but in reality it is dangerous and lacking in biblical grounds and understanding.
The Bible clearly tells parents to “train up” their kids (Prov. 22:6) and to teach them God’s statutes and commands (Deut. 6:4-9). The truth is that parents are to be the ones leading their families, especially their kids in developing a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Anything less is neglecting the biblical mandate for parents (especially father’s) in this vital area of child-development.
I recently read a very insightful article on the subject of hindering and helping the faith development of our kids that had some practical advice I think is worth sharing. I would encourage you to read the article to learn some very practical tips for how you as a parent might be hindering the development of faith and what God is doing in your child.
And here is some ways you can help the faith development of your child:
- We can help by creating opportunities for conversation. Don’t be so busy that you don’t have time to talk with your kids about their faith and what God is doing in their life.
- We can help by showing them what Scripture says. Don’t simply tell your kids what the Bible says, show them, and teach them how to study and understand for themselves.
- We can help by listening, listening, listening. The people that often have the greatest influence in our kids’ lives are those that listen best. We must be willing to listen to our kids and allow them to share their heart and minds before we endeavor to teach and guide them.
- We can help by praying over them and for them. Our kids need to hear us pray for them (over), but they also need to know we pray for them. By praying for our kids in their presence they will hear our heart and know how much we truly love them; as a bonus we can show them how to pray and how important it is to pray.
- We can help by not freaking out! If we freak out on our kids for their imperfections, silly thoughts, mistakes, or backward ideas about life, we will shut the door to dialogue, teaching and instruction. We must maintain the perspective that they are kids, growing and learning, and not yet what they will be one day.
As much as you love your kids and want to help them, Jesus loves them even more and wants to be in a relationship with them. Don’t be afraid to proactively develop faith in your kids through family devotions, bedtime prayer, discussing Scripture, talking about social issues in light of what the Bible says, and serving together.
By helping develop faith in our kids rather than hinder it we are able to partner with God in guiding our kids to a deep, lasting relationship with Jesus.