William F. Holland Jr.

Children are a wonderful blessing! How exciting it is to hold a little baby and imagine the person they will become along with all the great things they will experience and accomplish.

These feelings of expectation and happiness are amazing and hopefully will continue as we watch them grow throughout our lifetime. However, as children develop beyond their formative years and into their teens, our excitement often turns to confusion and discouragement. No one is perfect or has all the answers, and we might as well face the reality that even with our prayers, sometimes our offspring will not always go the way we thought they would.

When children are young, they are subjected to the influences of their parents. As they grow older, they begin to explore and absorb what everyone else has to say about everything. In this process of comparing what they have been told with all of the new information they are gathering, it's only a matter of time until they start forming their own opinions and worldviews about what is right and wrong.

Often, these ideas and belief systems are different from their parents' and of course becomes an agonizing disappointment as they watch their child evolve into someone they never imagined. Proverbs Chapter 22 reminds us how important it is to teach and raise a child according to God's principles, and we are grateful for his promise that as they grow older they will remember and embrace these truths.

So what can parents do that are facing this situation? I've been asked this question many times over the years, and it seems as time goes on, I am hearing it even more. We can start with accepting that we cannot change what anyone believes, and this includes our precious child. To present this statement in an even more sobering perspective, we can ask ourselves, is it possible that anyone could change what we believe? Probably not. Once we understand the guidelines of the situation, we can move forward.

We are living in an ever-changing world that is filled with all types of philosophies and ideologies that are being advertised as correct and acceptable alternative truths. Since we are referring to our ideas and opinions, let's go back and recall our own experiences when we were in our teens and early 20s. As you were developing into an adult, did you agree with the views of your parents?

In some clans, we notice that politics, religion and social issues are not a big deal, while in other families these topics consistently dominate the conversation. After an exhaustive exploration, some young adults will accept and approve their parent's views, while others will conclude their parents were either not intellectually able or willing to research the subject, thus hindering their understanding.

Moms and dads are not intentionally leading their children into error, but we can all make mistakes. Often, the child attempts to explain their newly discovered persuasions, only to encounter intense attitudes of displeasure and rejection. In these cases, it's common to have both sides praying for each other that God will open eyes and hearts.

When we pray, we know that trusting God is acknowledging that he is the only one who has the power to transform someone's thinking. Along with this fervent commitment to intercede, I must include another consideration just as important. There is a huge difference between asking God to make someone believe like we do and asking him to open their eyes to the truth.

You see, if we are just wanting a "mini-me," we are missing the point. Having someone who believes exactly like us might make us feel good, but what if we are wrong?

At the end of the day, sometimes the parents are right and sometimes the next generation is right. Nonetheless, it's important to remember that God's love is what binds us together far beyond our convictions and interpretations.

Yes, what we believe is who we are, and learning how to get along with someone when you strongly disagree with them is challenging, to say the least, but if we desire to have a meaningful relationship with them, it is also necessary. Since Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, we will always discover more unity and agreement when we humbly listen and learn from him.

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