Children learn by example. So for those of us who did not obey the will of God while dating, how can we teach our children the right way to go? It is never too late to be a good example.
We all know the popular adage: “Do as I say; Not what I do”. It is actually much easier to teach our children what to do than to do it ourselves. However, we know that our words will be ignored if our actions demonstrate the opposite of what we say.
The impact parents have on their children should not be underestimated. They will always be, in one way or another, a model for the next generation. No one is perfect, we all have made mistakes. To keep our children from repeating our mistakes, especially when it comes to dating, we offer some tips that you can put into practice right now.
- Do not repeat the same mistake
God forgives our sins when we repent. But repentance is not the same thing as regret. Repentance requires a change in behavior. Acts 3:19 (KJV) describes the process well: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”. For example, when we convert Canadian currency into American, we no longer have Canadian currency in our hands. The monetary value is there, but the currency is completely transformed. God asks us to repent and convert, that is to change our lives, in order not to repeat the same mistakes.
If you had sexual relations outside marriage, and you repent, God will forgive you completely. But if you are sincere in your repentance, you will adopt a new way of life that will keep you from repeating this same sin! This is considered a true conversion. If you want to teach your child to keep themselves for marriage, you must not commit the same sin! God has given you His Spirit to assist you, consult with Him and follow Him.
- Admit your mistakes
We want to be strong for our children and show ourselves as almost perfect. But the reality is quite different. However, admitting our mistakes does not make us weak, it simply demonstrates our humanity and our need for a Savior. Our children will make all sorts of mistakes in their lives. They must learn that their sins can be forgiven, that their mistakes can be repaired, and that we all need humility. This lesson is best taught by example.
If you drifted from God’s will when you dated in the past, share these experiences with your child when he or she is old enough to understand. Take the time to explain the negative consequences you had to face because of your choices. God’s forgiveness erases the judgment, not the consequences. Share with your child the blessings you could have received if you had followed God’s instructions. These cautionary tales will remain in their mind when temptation presents itself to them. It is not a question of living in regret and condemnation, but of demonstrating a humble attitude towards your weakness.
- Surround your children with good role models
On three occasions in the Proverbs, we read that success comes from having many counselors (Prov. 11:14, 15:22, 24: 6). If you need help getting out of debt, you shouldn’t seek advice from people who are being sued by creditors. You will consult people who have managed to free themselves financially and are wise regarding their finances. If you have not been a good role model for your children in terms of dating, become friends with Christian couples who have a happy marriage.
The beauty of the Body of Christ is that at our fingertips we have a multitude of witnesses, conquerors, and over-comers dealing with all sorts of difficulties. Take advantage of that! Surround your children with these heroes of faith and give them a healthy, inspiring pattern to follow.
- Share your relationship with Christ, not a religion
Jesus did not come to earth to establish a new religion. He followed certain rules of conduct and did not reject God’s commandments, but the motivation behind his obedience was radically different compared to the religious leaders of the day. Take a nurse as an example. They have protocols to follow, precise tasks to accomplish when taking care of their patients. But if they fall in love with their patient, the nurse will continue to follow the same protocols, but with a different attitude. Without love, care will be given out of obligation, but with love, they will watch over the well-being of their patient with a passion. This is the difference between a religion and a relationship with God.
A religion does not stay with your child when they are alone or away from you. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, will. A religion will not raise your child’s esteem when they experience hardship. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, will. A religion will not fill the loneliness of your child’s heart. The Holy Spirit will. Introduce your child to Christ, encourage them to have a friendship with God. He will take care of them and keep them on the right path.
- Cover them with your prayers and encouragement
Prayer is necessary for the lives of all believers. It is during our heart to heart with God that we change and our circumstances are transformed. We must pray for our children so that they do not make the same mistakes that we made. By praying regularly for them, it also reminds us that we must remain a good example.
Bless your children by speaking good words into their lives. “You will marry a charming young man of God one day!” “I know that you will succeed in your marriage and that you will have a happy life.” These are not just beautiful words but they are seeds you plant into their hearts. In the face of temptation, these declarations will be reminders for your children.