Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).
Appropriately introducing them to their future culture will benefit them today and tomorrow. When I say “introducing your child to the world,” I am not talking about teaching them how to curse, drink beer, watch porn, smoke cigarettes, and other sin-festive things that our culture loves. I am speaking about familiarizing your child with the world’s ways while also teaching him how not to imbibe.
You do not want your kids to be surprised, repulsed, or tempted by the things in our culture when they enter into it as young adults. If you don’t teach them today how to engage the world before they are adults, they will be like a child reaching for a hot stove because he did not know it was hot. And your child will be burned by the culture that you so meticulously kept away from him. Your home is a laboratory. You should be continually challenging your kids so you can understand them better.
If you have more than one child, you know about their uniqueness, which is why you cannot do cookie-cutter parenting. For example, to say that alcohol is evil and you’ll go to hell if you drink it is fear-motivated parental ignorance. While you may bind the conscience of one child, and he treats alcohol like a plague all of his life, your next child may not be so motivated. Children need loving and wise instruction, not fear tactics.
Sheltering is an integral part of parenting, without question. Parents understand this but sheltering and fear-based protection should never be the beginning and the end of your child’s life. If it is, your kids will be culturally confused and spiritually tempted when their time comes to stand without your guidance. It may seem wise (and convenient) to shelter your children, but if you do, beware: you won’t know them the way you need to during this training season.
It’s better to create those testing opportunities–with instruction–while they are with you rather than waiting for them to leave you and flounder in their culture. One of the ways we have equipped our children for the future is by connecting them with adults. They have been socializing with adults ever since they could socialize. We strategically and appropriately gave them a few adults to play with while they were young.
Like all children, they naturally gravitate to their kind. Like fish to water, they love other kids. We had to be intentional by connecting them with older, bigger, and wiser people. Small groups in the local church are safe places for this kind of adult training. Hospitality in the home is also an excellent context. There are other ways to bring the world into your laboratory so you can teach your children.
We opened bank accounts when our kids were five years old. We also started teaching them Systematic Theology at that age. When they were about eight years old, we watched Cops (TV Show) to teach them to respect police officers while introducing them to the drug and alcohol culture. During the “sex talk” season, I began teaching them some of the culture’s language.