After I posted my blog last week, I had a friend message me about how she should talk with her middle-school-aged son about this decision. I personally believe that parents should be having real conversations with their children about all sorts of issues including “hot” topics such as this. Here are 4 conversations that parents could have with their children regarding this decision and how it affects them:
1) Be a peacekeeper
Take a minute and remember what middle school and high school were like for you. For most of us, it was not the best moments in our lives but instead was filled with hormones, bad haircuts, bullying and a desire to fit in. We can all remember our longing to belong.
Now, put yourself in the shoes of a 13-17 year old child struggling with their sexuality. Fear, rejection, insecurity, doubt and all sorts of emotions would be fighting for control leaving many teenagers alone struggling in silence.
Encourage your son or daughter to be a person that befriends everyone. Encourage your child to be a defender of the weak, a crusader for the outcast. Encourage your child to be a peacekeeper.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” -Jesus
I want my son and daughter to be kids that are sensitive to those that are struggling, to be emphatic to those who are hurting and to befriend those that need a friend the most.
2) Be a good sport
I talk with Bennett, my sports-addcited 6-year-old son, often about being a good sport. Win, lose or draw, I want Bennett to be a good sport in how he handles himself when he wins, when he loses and if their is no decision. This past week, I have seen lots of poor winners and poor losers. I have seen many people on both sides of the issue creating much deeper issues by the way they have chosen to respond.
I think that this decision presents an excellent opportunity to help our children understand that with some decisions we win, some we lose and some leave no winner. It’s often not about the decision but how we chose to respond that shows our true colors. Our children must understand that life will be filled with disappointments, setbacks and missed opportunities.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. -Paul (First Century Church Planter)
3) Don’t live by fear
I have seen so many fear-driven diatribes this week. Fear of what this means for church leaders, fear for what this means for our kids, fear for what this means for our future. Fear has been driving so much of the conversation that it causes unrealistic future scenarios to exist that aren’t even part of this decision.
As a parent, I want my kids—no matter the situation—to not be paralyzed by the fear of “What if?” What if this happens or what if that happens? What will we do if so and so does that? I want my kids to live by faith, not by fear.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Parents, I encourage you to talk to your kids about this decision, but do not allow fear to be the driving emotion behind the conversation. When you talk with your kids, allow love to be the primary factor and emotion leading the discussion.
4) Talk to your kids about living a holy lifestyle
Whether you believe that homosexuality is a sin or not, this is an opportunity to talk with your son or daughter about what it means to live a life that is set apart for God. We live in a world where our kids have access to things that we wouldn’t believe such as harmful apps and internet pornography. They are subjected to media that drives a message that sin is cool and unavoidable…and they hear very little about an alternative.
The desire for our walk with Christ is to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. If we believe this, then we need to have conversations now with our kids about how their decisions and choices matter. Boundaries matter, kindness matters, self-control matters, love matters. This is a great opportunity to encourage your child to spend time praying to God about the way they speak, love, act and live.
“Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)
No matter how you go about it, make sure that you have a discussion with your children about important issues like this. As a parent, you are their primary disciple-maker and Christ tells us to, “Go and make disciples.” It starts in your own home!