Parenting - Parenting General

I heard the sermon on “judge not, lest you be judged.” Sometimes as a mom, I’ll go out publicly with my children and we’ll see a child either doing good or see a child doing bad. Sometimes I take my child and I’ll say, “they were doing good…” and I’ll use it as an example. Am I judging them? What’s the difference between observing them and judging them?

There’s nothing wrong with that. No, you’re not judging them. Judging is when you’ve declared a final sentence on somebody; “They are evil,” “They are a sinner;” “I’m better than them;” or “They are not going to make it.” Those are judgments that are not appropriate.

When you see a child who is misbehaving, you pull your child aside and say, “You know what? I just want you to know that although we don’t know what is going on with that parent, we don’t know why that child is acting that way, that is not how you act. I would have to discipline you if you did that because I’m responsible for you." You put the focus on them. “Each one looking to himself,” the Bible says. We need to look to ourselves and we need to make sure that we’re doing what we’re responsible to do.

What we don’t want to allow into our lives is a self-righteous attitude of “Well, look at that parent. I’m much better of a parent than they are.” Well, that’s one aspect of judgment that we need to avoid. We need to guard our hearts from that pride and that self-righteousness where we think we’re better than someone else.

So, in a sense, a judgment is basically like putting someone down and lifting yourself up. That’s where people get into problems. To use another child as an illustration to your child is okay. Again, it’s not the truth that you carry; it’s the spirit in which you carry it that is going to make the difference. The spirit of it should be, “I’m not against that child and I hope that that mother and that father will be able to help that child, but I want you to know, here are the rules in our house.” Or you could say, “Let’s pray for that child.” You know, mercy triumphs over judgment. And we are always to be merciful. “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy,” the Scripture says.

And remember, we don’t know all that’s going on in people’s lives. We don’t know. Maybe that mother was sick. Maybe that mother has mental problems. Maybe that child is sick and she just is reluctant to discipline him because she’s just so afraid she’s going to lose him. That’s what I mean by coming to a judgment that we don’t have all the knowledge and all the information about a situation.

When you do find that you have judgment, what do you do? Confess it just like any sin. You confess it to the Lord. You ask Him to forgive you and you ask Him to open your eyes to see things from other peoples’ point of view and to see out of their eyes. When you see what they’re going through it’ll give you mercy.

Parenting - Parenting General

Our 11-year-old daughter has an unusually strong fear of demons and spirits, to the point that she doesn’t sleep well at night and constantly wants to climb in bed with us. She doesn’t watch TV and she’s in a private Christian school, so how’d she get like this, and what can my wife and I do about it?

The first part of your question is how would she have been exposed to that if she’s not watching bad things and if the wrong people aren’t in her life? First of all, we have to realize that we’re in a spiritual battle. Jesus wasn’t watching television or around people who were a negative influence on Him, yet Satan came to Him continually and tried to tempt Him. So, often there’s not a trigger that invites Satan’s activity – he’s just out to steal, kill, and destroy.

Also, different children have sensitivity in different areas of their lives and she may be very sensitive to spiritual things more so than maybe some of your other children are. Not that they won’t be able to develop a sensitivity to spiritual things, but some people have just a deeper sensitivity right away to the spiritual realm. So you have to channel that sensitivity in the right direction.

Explain to her, “You have a sensitivity to this, not because you’ve done something wrong, but because you’re probably more sensitive to God.” She’s probably more sensitive to the Holy Spirit as well, and you should encourage her in that area.

And you should deal with the fear at several levels. Tell her, “The only reason God allows you to be sensitive to demonic power is because He’s given you the power over the devil.” And so you’ve got start training her to exercise her dominion. Train her to exercise her authority over the devil and speak to that fear and command it to leave.

The Bible says, “Perfect love casts out fear,” so she’s got to meditate on the love of God. The Bible also says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but power, love and a sound mind,” so she’s got to meditate on the things in the Bible that produce power, the Holy Spirit, the anointing, the wisdom of God. That’s what will direct her against those forces.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10, “There is no temptation that comes upon us that He doesn’t give us a way of escape.” So, God would not allow her to be sensitive to those things if He had not equipped her with the power to overcome those things.

Parenting - Parenting General

My question has to do with spiritual authority. If a child is born out of wedlock to Christian parents who now share custody, who is the spiritual authority over this child?

First, you need to know that the Lord is the spiritual authority in that child’s life. But obviously that child is going to need more attention than a direct relationship with God at a young age. So the spiritual authority is shared by the parents. There is a mutual responsibility by both parents even if they are divorced, even if they have conceived out of wedlock, even if they are separated or never were married to begin with.

So you have to do your part in exercising your spiritual authority, and the father has to do his part in exercising his spiritual authority. And the two of you have to meet together because whether you like each other or not, you have to come into agreement and figure out what the plan is for raising that child. You have to decide what is going to be best for that child – not what’s best for you and the father.

Now, if the father is not responsible and is not providing for the child, then he abdicates his authority, and that authority then resides with you. But if he is sharing his realm and portion of the responsibility, then he should have a position of authority – just as you must have a position of authority, provided that you too are sharing in the responsibility.

It’s responsibility that gives us authority. If responsibility is being shared, it should be agreed upon. You should write down what your agreement is and have a third party hold you both accountable to carry out that agreement.

Parenting - Parenting General

I want to try to instill self-esteem into my 14-year-old daughter. Can you give me specific verses that will help her?

First, you’ve just got to pull your daughter aside, look her in the eye, and tell her how much you love her. Tell her how valuable she is to you, and tell her specific things – not about how she looks, but specific things about her personality, her character, her heart, her attitudes. Build those qualities up; reward her for them.

Tell her that God doesn’t judge her based upon how she looks even though man does. Tell her who she is with Christ and the power within her. Explain how beautiful she is to the Lord Jesus Christ and to her Heavenly Father. Help those things sink in so that she really understands them.

Parenting - Parenting General

I recently told a lie to keep my children from finding out that there was a sexual sin in my past. Now I feel guilty. What should I do?

First, it’s the truth that makes us free. But we need wisdom to determine how we communicate that truth and to whom we communicate it. Lying is never right. However, telling the details of your life to your children isn’t necessarily the right approach either. There’s always a way to withhold details from your past without lying. There’s always a means of escape. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10, that when you’re tempted, you will always have a way to escape.

Therefore, while you have an opportunity to tell the truth, it doesn’t always mean confessing your sins to your children. That’s not appropriate. But telling them a lie isn’t appropriate either. So somehow you have to discuss what you’ve done without lying. And you can because the Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins. You don’t need to feel guilty for lying. You just need to apologize to them.

Having lied, I would now say to them, “I’ve done some bad things – as we all have. But Jesus Christ forgives and cleanses. One of the bad things I’ve done is to lie to you. I had something happen in my past, and I don’t want to go into detail. But I tried to shield you from it by lying rather than protecting you in some other way.”

That’s how I’d recommend you handle it. But be wise. Your children are not God, and you don’t need to confess everything to them. Nor should you betray the truth. Lying betrays trust, and that, among other reasons, is why lying is dangerous. It destroys the ability to trust.

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