We smile as we see a father and son walking down the road and the son is the spitting image of his dad, from his looks to his mannerisms, to what he’s wearing. It’s fun to see children want to be like their parents!
As parents, we have such an amazing opportunity to influence our children for good, it’s exciting to be able to be such an important part of someone’s development as a person, but the responsibility can be a little overwhelming at times too!
You see, the scary thing is that we can also influence our children in negative ways. Our struggles with certain sins can become the same sins our children will struggle with as they grow older. Sins like worry, fear, gossip, complaining, anger outbursts, just to name a few.
Now that our children are adults, my husband and I see some of the negative influences our sinful behavior has had on them. One is more controlling than they should be at times, another one of them worries too much sometimes. It’s hard to see our own struggles with sin reflected in our children. In hindsight, I wish we had realized how much our sins were going to affect our children.
Scripture tells us that this issue of generational sins has been going on for a long, long time:
2 Kings 15:9:
“And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.”
The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
See Pastor John Piper’s article Does God “Visit the Sins of the Fathers on the Children”? for more on this topic.
The good news is that our sinful behavior doesn’t have to be passed on to our children! We can influence them towards a godly life by our example.
But how do we avoid passing on generational sins and at the same time build up and train our children towards godly character? This post will focus on just that! With God’s help, we can be an incredibly positive influence on our children!
7 Tips for how to be the godly role model your children need:
Focus on your own relationship with Christ:
If you want your children to know and love God, you need to model that for them.
They will do what you do more than they will do what you say.
If you’re reading your Bible daily and praying, they’ll want to do the same. If they see you bringing your concerns to God, they’ll do the same. If they see you confessing your sins, and being repentant, they’ll do the same. If you’re only a “Sunday Christian”, then they’ll be the same. Or if you choose to skip having fellowship with other believers, they’ll do the same. If you make other things more important than God in your life, they will do the same. I want to encourage you to make time in your busy life to spend time with Jesus each day, developing your own relationship with Him. May He be Lord in your life.
Ask the Lord to reveal sin areas in your life:
Ask God to show you areas where you have sinful behavior patterns that need to change. Do you lack self-control? Do you worry too much? Do you complain more than you should? Are you ungrateful? Do you struggle with pride or gossip?
I John 1:9:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I was aware that I worried too much during the time we were raising our children, and I was trying to work on it, but I didn’t realize that I was impacting my children with this sin until it was too late. Thankfully, God is gracious and merciful and He is redeeming my mistakes. He made my children aware of this issue and is helping those who started following my poor example in this area to overcome the same struggle in their own lives.
That’s the good news – generational sin issues don’t have to have a lasting impact as long as our children are also seeking God and His help to overcome sin. But if we can strive to overcome our sins while we’re still raising them, and show our repentance and share any victories with them, what a great influence that will be! We won’t be perfect this side of heaven, but if we’re real with our children, they will recognize God’s view on sin and also His incredible help for us as we seek Him.
Pray for your children daily:
Ask that God will protect your children, that He will help them not to follow you in your weak areas of sin. Pray for their salvation, for their faith to grow, for God to draw them into a deeper walk with Him, and for God to develop godly character in them. I am a firm believer in prayer and still pray for my adult children daily if not more! I believe God honors our prayers and will answer. I’ve seen Him working in my children’s lives many times when I’ve prayed fervently for them.
Focus on developing godly character in your children:
We can train our children to have godly character by taking time to teach on a specific character trait, teaching them the importance of developing it in their life. For example, you can spend one to two weeks focusing on developing “respect”, or “kindness” or “thankfulness” in your children. There are many resources on the internet about how to develop these character traits in your children that include stories, activities and more. In my planner, The Homeschool Life: All-in-One Planner, there’s a section on setting goals for your children that includes a list of character traits with scriptures you can memorize with them. (go to the “store” page to order your planner today!) Also, on my website, there are several blogs on how to develop specific character qualities in your children. ”
Teach your children manners and good citizenship:
As homeschoolers, we frequently get asked, “What about socialization?” Socialization is defined as the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society. Why do people think that putting children all together in a classroom is a good way to socialize them? Why would we want a bunch of our children’s peers to be the ones to teach our children what is socially acceptable in society? That’s our job as parents! I think homeschooling is one of the best places to socialize our children. We can teach them good manners: “please”, “thank you”, etc. We can teach them to be respectful of others. We can also teach them to be godly citizens, by praying for our leaders, and being active in helping to improve our society by volunteering.
Model and teach thankfulness vs complaining:
We live in a society with a strong “entitlement” attitude, where children feel entitled to have many things because their friends have them. Things that we wouldn’t even have considered an option when we were growing up. Cell phones, Instagram, Facebook, cars, tv’s in their bedrooms, etc. Our society wants us to focus on getting “more and more”, but we usually don’t really NEED what they tell us we need! This is a subtle sin area in American society, the desire to “keep up with the Jones” and have more things. Materialism is such a distraction from our relationship with God. I want to encourage you to guard against buying or giving your children everything they want. We can help our children see the negative aspects of having some of these things, and help them to learn to be grateful for what God has given them. If we help our children learn to be thankful for what they have, rather than allowing them to complain and demand what they want, it will help them to overcome this incredible pressure for materialism. Plus, we’ll enjoy them much more and so will others!
Model a love for learning:
This isn’t so much about helping your children develop godly character as it is helping them to enjoy learning throughout their life. We can be a huge influence in their lives in this area as homeschoolers! If we’re curious about the world around us and always asking questions and striving to learn, our children will also pick up on that attitude, and they’ll be lifelong learners too! We can help our children love to learn by answering their questions (even when they are silly!) and helping them learn by discovery. Children will retain much more of what they learn by discovery than what they learn by reading a textbook. Encourage your children to ask questions and help them find the answers. Be a great role model for them by asking questions yourself!
Being a godly role model is a big job! But as Christians, we don’t do this in our own strength, we have a great God who is there to help us! He can help us overcome our areas of weakness and He can also help us to be godly role models for our children. I encourage you to seek His help daily!
Do you have any suggestions or things you’ve done to help you to be a godly role model for your children that you can recommend to others? Please make a comment and share them here!