God’s Word doesn’t shelter us from the ugliness of human depravity. It’s right to explain to our kids (age-appropriately) what’s going on and how it points to our Redeemer. The temptation to avoid uncomfortable topics is real, but if we don’t speak with our kids about sexuality, we can rest assured the world will. Let’s resist any hint of shame culture that would cause embarrassment about the bodies and functions God created. Individual families need to decide when they’ll introduce things like biologically correct anatomical terms, the reproductive cycle, puberty, pornography, LGBTQ+ ideology, and other sexual developments and sins our children will face. But we must own our responsibility to teach them.
Whether you’re parenting toddlers, teens, or both, today’s sexual climate probably concerns you. I once heard parenting described as walking around with your heart outside your body ; that feels accurate. Parents face intense vulnerability as we strive to keep our dear children safe. Now that I have a teen and a ten-year-old, keeping my boys safe looks much different than when they were babies and toddlers. I’m no longer worried about them catapulting out of their crib or flinging themselves into a pool.
But the dangers they face as they grow older are even scarier. Will they cling to Christ amid an antagonistic culture? Will they continue to know who they are as boys—growing into men—made in God’s image to glorify him? Will they resist the dehumanizing and addictive lure of pornography? If they marry, will they commit to women who fear the Lord? Of course, I care about their physical well-being. But will their souls be safe?
More than anything, I long to rejoice in eternal glory with my sons as my brothers.
God Uses Means
It’s easy to look around at the world and let fear shrivel our hearts. According to a recent Barna survey, 73% of Christian parents are “concerned about their children’s spiritual development.” This concern isn’t groundless; our children are under attack (see 1 Peter 5:8). As Mark Sanders highlighted, so many of our youth are deceived and seeking purpose in identifying as LGBTQ+. What can we do to make sure our kids will be okay?
Being not sovereign, not omniscient, and not omnipotent, we can’t guarantee anything. Our parenting can’t secure any particular outcome for our children. Faithful Christian parents might, heartbreakingly, watch their children turn away from the Lord.
Yet God works through means. In his providence, godly parents are a gift to their children and instruments in the Lord’s hands. How can we parent our kids from a place of confidence in the Lord rather than fear? Here are some thoughts and practices I’ve observed in wise Christian parents that my husband and I seek, by God’s grace, to follow.
1.Trusting the Lord
Exhausted and defeated when my newborn wasn’t sleeping despite my having read, underlined, and applied all the baby book instructions, I agonized over what I was doing wrong. Don’t we all like a clear “do this, get that” sequence? But children are not programmable robots and only sometimes do what we expect.
Just as we’re saved only by God’s grace in Christ, not by our works, he is the only one we can rely on in all aspects of raising our kids. If they resist LGBTQ+ ideology and other sexual sins, it will be by God’s grace. This shatters my pride and gives me hope. If our children stand firm, praise Jesus—it’s his work alone. If they turn away, God is still good and accomplishing his plan in their lives and ours. I am finite and less good than God, the author of my children’s story as well as my own.
I am finite and less good than God, the author of my children’s story as well as my own.
The Judge of all the earth shall do what is just (Gen. 18:25) and calls himself “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6b). This truth soaks comfort into a believer’s soul, helping us entrust our precious children to the everlastingly faithful Father. We can’t guarantee anything, and we certainly can’t save them—and this is good news, because we make terrible saviors. The hopeful reality is that they’re in the hands of the triune Creator, who is justice, mercy, and love.
I’m happily convinced that praying for and with our kids is the best thing we can ever do for them. It’s better than all the discipline, school choices, family times, and device limits in the world.
Praying for Our Children
In Christ, frail humans are united to the One who spoke the universe into existence and keeps our breath circulating each moment. Prayer acknowledges that we are God’s, his way is best, and he is mighty. Before stating that “children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward” (v. 3), Psalm 127 begins with a foundational truth: “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (vv. 1–2). We can rest (“he gives to his beloved sleep”) because God is the builder and the watchman (v. 2).