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 (Manna 47: The Body of Christ)
"Can I Influence My Children?"
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Patricia Chen — Irvine, California, USA

            Parent:“I said it’s time to put your toys away.” (No response)
           “I’m going to count to three.” (Silence)
           “One, two, three…three…three. Did you hear what I just said? I said it’s time to put away your toys, brush your teeth, say a prayer, and go to sleep.”
           (Voice raised)

              Child: “Okay, I heard you but I’m still playing, can you count again?”

Does this sound familiar?

Parenting indeed is a challenging job. We try our best to guide our children, but it feels like they are the ones who are controlling us. Sometimes, they don’t even seem to hear what we are saying. Most North Americans believe that parents have less influence on their children than school and the media. With their busy lifestyle, some parents assume daycare, school, and television programming play the primary roles in molding their children.

Even at church, some parents are buying into the myth that there is little they can do to shape the lives of their children. Subsequently, we have lost confidence in raising moral kids.


I remember before we had our child, my husband and I were very concerned about what kind of parents we would be. Even today, we constantly explore the Bible and see what the word of God teaches us about parenting. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed just thinking about all of the dangers and uncertainties my child will face as he grows up. I fear for his safety, but most of all I fear for his soul, mind, and spirit.

The fact is, the world we live in has lost its moral compass. The media thrive on unrealistic and dangerous messages that can easily defile our purity. When our children fill up on movies with immoral images, violent television, or music with profane lyrics, they will be adversely affected.

Nevertheless, as I continue to search the Scriptures and pray, I am convinced that God offers help and strength to any parent who wants to grab hold of these fleeting years to mold the next generation.

            Behold, children are a gift of the Lord;
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth,
How blessed is the man who quiver is full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.
(Ps 127:3-5)

I refer to our time as fleeting years because, as parents, we do not own our children. God has said that they are gifts and rewards, and He has only entrusted our children to us for a brief window of time. So the day we release our children, our arrows, we must release them into the world without letting our fears hold us back. When we let them go, they need to be prepared to aim toward the right target, like real warriors.

Moses’ Parents and Their Hall of Faith

Take the example of Moses’ parents. We can learn precious lessons about taking every opportunity to raise our children from a couple that lived four thousand years ago.

What set them apart was their perception of God’s vision for their son. First of all, they risked their lives for their baby because they realized that he was not an ordinary child. Being fearful of the Pharaoh’s mandate to extinguish every first-born male, they bravely went against the king’s orders and hid baby Moses for three months (Heb 11:23). What a faith they must’ve had to devise such a plan for Moses’ rescue!

Standing on the river bank, they released their baby into God’s guidance as he waded across the water. Much to their surprise, God intervened immediately and brought him to the Pharaoh’s palace. Moses’ mother, seeing such a grand opportunity, offered to be a caretaker to this adopted baby of the royal family. Over the years, she taught him all the ways of God and raised him as a true Israelite. This was her hall of faith.

So the question is: “Do I really have influence over my children?” Yes, we can significantly influence our children with godly values and directions. Undoubtedly, teachers, grandparents, friends, the media, and society will also influence our children’s lives, but it is God’s purpose for parents to carry out this title role, and we need to bravely assume it.

While we are raising young children or teens, we might not know what our children will grow up to be. But with God’s guidance, we can raise them with the wisdom, strength, and vision that come from God. He already knows their purposeful life. So it is our duty as parents to help our children discover the amazing plans our heavenly Father has prepared for them.


As a parent, one of our goals is to raise our children to be morally and socially responsible. Eventually, they will go to college. At that time, will they do the right thing even after they have left our supervision? With God’s vision and with persistent prayers, they will, because of what has been instilled in them in their upbringing.

According to many studies, a child’s primary relationship is with his parents in the first phase of life. Children care a great deal about what their parents think and do. Basically, from infant to about pre-adolescence, their lives circle around their parents.

Then, there comes a point during adolescence where the primary relationship shifts from parents to friends as they learn to interact socially. Some parents fear letting go. However, it is healthy for them to learn to interact with others in a mature and constructive way. The more assuring way to do that is to have confidence that we have influenced them in a godly and spiritual manner over the years.

Sometimes, we will feel inadequate in one way or another in influencing our children’s lives. But focus on a few areas at a time. God yearns for us to make Him our foundation, upon whom we build our children’s faith. Even though many Christ-like qualities bear so little impact in our society today, we know that they matter tremendously in the kingdom of God.

There seem to be so much to work on: submission to parents and to God, obedience, respect for authority, growth in their faith, wisdom, courage to do the right thing, self-discipline, integrity, moral purity, overcome temptations, love, perseverance, a heart of discernment between truth and falsehood. The list can go on.

Rather than overwhelming ourselves, we can choose several areas to focus on because certain topics become more relevant than others depending on the age and the maturity of the child. Our goal is to divide and conquer—one attitude and one behavior at a time.

From Infancy to Pre-adolescence: Setting Rules, Guidelines, Boundaries, and Discipline

For young kids, the first step is to mold their character while their will is more bendable. Some parents set rules and guidelines for behavior. I always tell my child to “listen and obey Mommy and Daddy.” By that, I want my child to respond immediately and respectfully. Of course, this is easier said than done because most children will rebel some of the time, and especially the strong-willed child. But parents should instill in them what obedience is all about.

When my child was younger, he always challenged me by playing before doing homework. It took us a long time to instill in his heart what obedience is—doing things without complaining.

Memorizing Bible verses is also a power tool for young children. When they memorize and learn the verses in the early years, it will survive them through the turbulent teenage period. We don’t need to have a doctorate degree in theology in order to teach biblical concepts to our children. Children have very simple faith, and they just need to believe the words of God and obey His teachings.

One of the worst things that can happen to a child is parents who send mixed signals about what is acceptable or unacceptable. This usually happens early on because one parent may have experienced a stern upbringing and the other a tolerant childhood. As a result, they resist doing the same thing to their own children and end up with incongruent expectations.

What we want to achieve as parents is to agree on one set of family rules and reinforce them over and over again, especially at a young age. Of course, it takes a lot of patience and hard work. But it is something that will pay off in the long run.

From Pre-adolescence to Young Adults: Fostering Loving Relationships and Responsibility, and Making Wise Decisions

At about 12 or 13 years of age, it’s as though our child is constantly telling or hinting to us they want the freedom and power to make decisions. The little child we embraced in our arms for years now thinks he is like an adult and he wants to have some control of his fate.

No wonder many parents feel they have already lost when it comes to the battle of raising teenagers. One thing we need to keep in mind at this age is that the peer group has become the most important influence to our children. Also, peer pressure from friends forces them to seek an identity of their own.

The question, then, is what do we train at this age? Reinforcing rules is still very important. Otherwise they will not have any structure in their lives. But remember that, behind rules, we have to have a good relationship.

One close friend of mine told me that her parents always told her “No” without giving her a reason. When asked about a rule, instead of saying, “Because I say so,” explain the reasons behind it. Teenagers want to know the why’s behind the rules before they follow it. Otherwise, it can turn into rebellion.

Always be there and tell them how much you love them. Don’t assume they know it. When they get all the love they need from us, they won’t turn to the world to satisfy their needs. If we have been setting aside time during the day in which we pray with them when they were young, this should also continue as they step into their adolescence.

Young people have a desire for responsibility. It is a sign that they are starting to grow up. Give them more chances to make decisions about what they want to do with their free time. Start out with small decisions. See how they decide and what they choose. Once they show themselves faithful in small matters (like going out with their friends and coming home on time), we can allow them to make bigger choices. One parent told me that their teenagers always come home on time because they have learned to respect their parents and be responsible at a young age.

One of the biggest tasks is to teach our teenagers how to make wise choices. Listen to what they have to say after they’ve made a bad choice. Ask, “Well, if you were in the same situation again, would you do the same thing? Why or why not?” Give them wise advice. Go back and talk about those issues so that they can make better choices going forward in their lives.

The biggest struggle as parents is deciding what types of decisions they are allowed to make. For example, let’s look at dating at an early age. Most parents will agree that they are too young or not mature enough. We need to tell them the proper time to date and why we want them to refrain from dating. When we see them grow in a mature and responsible way, then we can let them make almost all the decisions about life in their late teens.


Paul wrote: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Tim 1:5). What a great example to know that as grandparents and parents, we can set a good example of faith to our children.

As parents, one of our goals is to let our children see that our relationship with God is the most important in our lives. If our children can see our genuine faith, it will have a tremendous affect on their spiritual development. Let God be so naturally involved in family conversations and issues that our children can identify God to be their own.

It has been said that the best way to impact another life is to apply what one teaches. Even though we might have been neglecting our faith before having children, it is not too late to begin now. Jesus told us the parable about building the foundation on the rock. When the flood and winds came, the rock was left standing strong.

What kind of foundation have we been laying down for our children? Do we have family Bible reading time? Do we pray together every morning and before we go to bed?  Do we use teachable moments? For example, in any given situation we can respond with God as the solution:

            “God helped us when we prayed for….”
“Wow, God is amazing, He took care of us during…”
“Look at all the yummy food that we have for this meal, it is all God’s goodness…”
“Sometimes, mom and dad can’t be with you at school or elsewhere, but God is always available to guide you when you call on Him.”

One day, my son told me in the car, “Mom, thank God that we have God to pray to. He is bigger than anything, right?” What a blessing to know that we are building a lasting heritage. This world we live in is so seductive and alluring, who knows how long our children can be shielded under our roof?

We should continue to strive with the help of God to educate their heart and mind about Him. Remember, God has given us the gift of a few critical years to leave a legacy of faith and godly character for our own children.


Some parents make it their priority to give their children the best education and learning environment when it comes to school. But they just assume that religious education at church should take the primary role to lead their children to God. The truth is: that is not enough. Why? Remember that the very first institution God established was the family—building a legacy of faith first before He established the church.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that religious education at church is not important. It definitely plays a vital role in our children’s faith, but why not give our children the best of both worlds? Nothing is comparable to the eternal value of the saved souls of our beautiful children.

When our children show reverence for God; when they pursue joy, peace, and love; when they resist sin, temptation, and stand up for what is right even though they are standing alone; and when they want to serve God not because you tell them to but because they are willing from their heart, we will be glad that we invested much time and energy towards their spiritual lives.

With all this said, I am not an expert in this field and I often have to juggle the demands of parenthood and God’s holy work. The only solution is to get on my knees, realizing how weak I am in faith, and turn to God for strength and wisdom. I continue to ask God to inspire us, regardless of how strenuous the days may look, and for Him to empower us to pray anytime and anywhere with our children.

            …Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord.
Lift your hands toward Him
For the life of your young children… (Lam 2:19)

May God give us the wisdom to mentor our children, and to aim high and train them diligently by the power of God’s word. After all, “He who began a good work in [us] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil1:6).

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Publisher: True Jesus Church