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TEXT: Proverbs 23:26

SUBJECT: Family Life #12: Talking to Your Kids

This afternoon, with the Lord's blessing, we'll continue our study of Family Life. The topic: Talking to your kids.

DEFINITION

Let me begin with a definition. By "talking to your kids" I don't mean (1) teaching them, (2) evangelizing them, (3) praying with them, (4) commanding them, (5) reproving them, or (5) warning them. These are all good things, of course, but they're not what I'm getting at today.

By "talking to your kids" I mean a regular conversation in which three things occur: (1) both of you speak, (2) both of you listen, and (3) both of you reply. In short, you're not talking past each other, but to each other.

RARITY

This sort of talking is admired by all, but practiced by very few. Adults have told me, "My parents never talked to me". They passed information, of course, but they never spoke in a personal or meaningful way. The fellowship families are made for was unknown to them.

This is common in ungodly homes. Without Christ most parents live only for themselves. If it's pleasure they want, they ignore the kids. If it's "success" they're after, they drive them. In either case, warm and natural conversations don't take place in those families.

And not just those families. Many believing parents are no better. I know several Christian men who have no relationship with their children. You can hear it in the way they talk to their kids in public; you can see it in the kids' body language. There's nothing there. I wish I could say all these parents are new converts, but many of them are not. I could name deacons and pastors who live this way.

Let me tell you about two boyhood friends of mine. We were very close, and when they grew up, each came to me separately and said,

"You know, Mike, the only family I ever had was yours".

My friends were not from broken families. Their folks professed faith in Christ, went to church, prayed, and read the same Bible that we do. But they didn't talk to their kids.

Do you?

Here's a test. When you speak to your kids, do you make eye-contact? When they answer you, do they speak clearly? If you're talking over their heads and they're mumbling under their breath, you can be sure: You're not getting through. You're not talking to your kids.

DUTY

Most parents believe they ought to talk to their kids; some feel guilty that they don't. But let me enforce the duty from God's Word.

A good place to start is "The Golden Rule". Matthew 7:12 has it

"Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets".

If you were a kid, would you prefer your parents to ignore you or talk to you? Would you rather have them lecturing you all the time or listening once in a while? Whatever you want for yourself, give to your children.

Ephesians 6:4 provides another argument. It says

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord".

Every child has his own identity. That means each one has to be brought up differently. We use the same Word, but apply it creatively and appropriately to each kid. In order to do that, you've got to know each one. And you cannot know him without talking and listening to him.

Proverbs 1 makes another good argument. It urges children to listen to their parents and not give in to peer pressure.

"My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother...My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent, if they say, `Come with us'...do not walk in the way with them".

Your children want love and acceptance. If they can't get it at home, they'll look for it elsewhere. Give it to them yourself, and maybe they won't look to boyfriends or girlfriends for "love". And maybe they won't seek their "acceptance" with the wrong kind of people. They want to talk; why don't you provide the listening?

The best argument comes from the example of Our Father. In His Word, God talks to us. It says He loves us, He forgives us, and He accepts us. Not when we meet His expectations only, but even when we fail. It was to His children--far from perfect--that He said,

"I have loved you with an everlasting love and with lovingkindness I have drawn you".

He speaks to all His people. Yet there is an intimacy--a personal note to each one. God speaks to His children.

He also listens. We call it prayer. He listens patiently; He listens cheerfully; He listens even when we say the wrong things.

Does God talk to His children? Does He listen to us? He does. Ephesians 5:1 says,

"Be followers of God".

BENEFITS

Talking to your children is good for you, good for them, good for others, and good for God.

It will do you good--both in the short-term and over time. For now, at the very least, talking to your children will give you a better conscience than you have if you don't. That's worth something, isn't it?

You may also enjoy your kids. The Proverbs assume children bring joy to their parents. Maybe yours would too--if you got to know them.

In the long-run, it may result in their taking care of you when you need it.

You certainly won't regret it when you stand before God on the Day of Judgment.

"It will be health to your navel

And marrow to your bones".

It will also bless them. For it allows them to develop mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. How awful it is to have nobody to talk to, nobody you could trust, and nobody who cares. Millions of kids are growing up like that. Don't let yours be one of them.

It also gives you credibility with them. Do you want to reach them for Christ? If so, you need their respect and attention. You never get it unless you talk to your kids.

It is a form of evangelism. It teaches your children what God is like. And it makes Him attractive to them. Many kids judge God by their parents. To them, He lays down the Law and punishes every misdeed, without any sympathy or patience or openness. They got these horrid ideas from their parents.

It sets a good example for them when they grow up and have children of their own. In this way,

"A good man lays up an inheritance

for his children's children".

It blesses other people. If nothing else, it sets a good example for them to follow, and produces the sort of kids who won't mock them or vandalize their property.

But most of all, it glorifies God. Someone has said, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". He was right. Just imagine how pleased the Lord is to see us taking care of our children the way He takes care of His!

Obedience is always a blessing.

"In keeping of them,

There is great reward".

STARTING

Where do you start? Let me point out the obvious: You can't turn back the clock! You should have started when your kids were babies. But if you didn't, start now! It will never get easier than it is today.

If you want you kids to trust you, you've got to earn their confidence. You can't do that in a day, but you can start earning it today. How?

1.Live up to what you say. Nothing reduces confidence more than hypocrisy. If you're a wonderful Christian at church, but a rotten scoundrel at home, your kids know it. And don't trust you. Confess and repent of your hypocrisy.

Learn to listen with sympathy. Sympathy does not mean approval! But you must listen carefully, without interrupting all the time, and when reproof is needed, it's spoken with tenderness and acceptance.

You've got to make time for your kids. Kids don't need more "quality time", they need more "quantity time".

Look at others who have a good relationship with their kids--and ask for their advice.

Finally, pray about it. Tell the Lord you've been a bad parent and ask Him for grace to become the kind of parent He wants you to be. This is according to His will. And when we ask for that, we get what we want--I John 5:14.

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