How many times do you hear your kids whine, “It’s not fair!” Despite all the advantages my kids have, life is still hard. They will still face challenges. As a parent, how can I prepare them for those tough situations right around the corner?

In Chip Ingram’s series, Effective Parenting in a Defective World, he shares five things to teach your kids to prepare them for life’s biggest battles. Here are the takeaways that stood out to me from his main points.

Suffering is normal

This world isn’t perfect. There will be suffering. Jesus told us we can expect it. But in the midst of suffering, God is good! Yes, life is hard and it’s not fair, but God is in control–in every situation your kids encounter.

It’s important we teach them how to handle suffering. 

How did Jesus handle it? He kept entrusting himself to God the Father. 1 Peter 2:21-23 says:

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

How to teach your kids about suffering

Chip says to teach your kids that suffering is normal, and then model how to deal with it.

  1. What are you concerned about? Tell them about it (as much as it’s age appropriate).
  2. Verbalize and affirm that the situation is hard and it’s not fair. Pray about it out loud so they can hear you talk to God about it.
  3. Share when you get a raw deal. Let them see your emotions and understand that you’re hurt or upset, but that you’re still choosing to trust in God and His plan.

We were all created to work

So many people spend their lives waiting for the weekend and dreading the coming Monday. It’s common enough that when you say you have a case of the Mondays, people know what you mean. But why is there such a stigma against work?

Whether or not you work in a paid position or as a stay-at-home mom, you have work to do! As much as we may long for the weekend and wish we didn’t need to do the menial task at hand, our lives are better when we spend it working.

Chip shared a theology of work that can help shift your perspective into a biblical one:

  • View work as a “calling,” not a job.
  • Remember that all work is sacred.
  • Realize that our work is to flow from God’s unique design and purpose for our lives.

If you look at Genesis 2:15, you can see that Adam had work to do while he was still in Eden. Work came before sin.

Work is also for one audience, the “audience of one.” We work for God–not for our boss, our spouse, or our kids. As Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

How to teach your kids about a theology of work

Chip recommends:

  1. Start early. Give them weekly chores and teach them to do them with good attitude. This is one that’s hard to do and we struggle with it at our house, but it’s helpful to remember it’s a process! It’s unreasonable to expect them to do the dishes or mow the lawn with an obedient heart right away. 
  2. Become students of your child. What do they enjoy? What are they good at? Look for ways they can develop their skills and do age-appropriate work that contributes to the household, church, or others.

We’re stewards, not owners

This is really about our perspective towards what we’ve been given. The Bible is clear that God owns everything and he’s entrusted us with time, talent, and treasure to manage for him. When you approach your resources as a manager or steward rather than the owner, it affects the decisions you make.

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus told a parable that teaches us God expects us to be wise with the resources he gives us. He expects a positive return on his investment and will hold us accountable. 

This isn’t because he’s greedy and wants more treasure–rather he wants us to share in his joy. This goes back to that theology of work: when we’re working with what he’s given us and turning to him for guidance to manage his blessings as wise stewards, he’ll bless us.

How to teach your kids about faithful stewardship

Help your children become faithful in the little things (see Luke 16:10). This is especially important as you teach them about managing their money. Chip recommends teaching them about the three purposes of money (in this order):

  • Give it to God–learn to be generous.
  • Save it for the future.
  • Spend it wisely.

Live your best life by obeying God

I don’t know how many posts I see every day about people “living their best life.” But here’s the thing: God’s the one that knows how we can live our best lives. Obedience to him may be hard and scary, but it’s fruitful. It’s how you can live your best life.

In his study, Chip talks about a theology of holiness:

  • God is high, holy, “totally other.”
  • God is absolute Truth.
  • God’s word defines absolute Truth.
  • God’s law (or morals) are for our protection
  • God’s ultimate aim is to make us holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

How to teach your kids to live their best lives

Chip recommends you help your children think Biblically and critically to develop their values and character. 

You were created for grace

All of us need grace. The amazing thing is there’s nothing we can do that’s outside of God’s grace for us! 

Chip describes a theology of grace to teach our kids:

  • Grace is the unmerited and unconditional love of God toward us.
  • Grace is free to us, but costly to God.
  • The cross is God’s greatest act of grace.
  • Salvation is a free gift from God. 
  • Grace must be received–you need to place your faith in God.
  • Grace produces gratitude towards God and love towards others.

God shows his grace early in the Bible. In Genesis 3:21, “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” Despite their sin, God was still graceful in providing for them.

The theme of grace is repeated throughout the entire Bible, but here Ephesians 2:8-10 summarizes it nicely:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

How to teach your kids about grace

You want your kids to know that they were created to receive God’s grace and extend that grace to others. How do you teach them this?

Chip recommends you help them realize that failure is never final with God. You can model this as a parent by being a safe place for them to fail. When they mess up, how do you respond? Even if they need to experience some consequences for their choices, do you show you still love them?

Wrapping it up

I still have a lot to learn about parenting, but I appreciate the advice and perspective that Chip shares through his series. I hope it helps you as you work to raise your kids effectively in this crazy world we live in, too!

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