My worried mom decided to take my brother to the doctor. He was three years old and he wasn’t talking. At all. His communication consisted of making weird, throaty noises that sounded like “gunk! gunk!” and pointing. At the time, I was four years old (we are only 17 months apart) and quite talkative. In fact, I embarrassed my mom at times with my blunt observations of things going on around me.
An appointment was set and off we went to the doctor. After talking a bit with my mom and observing my brother and me, the doctor pointed to me and said, “She’s your problem.”
The doctor had correctly diagnosed that I was talking for my brother, making it quite unnecessary for him to speak a word. I understood his primitive “gunk” language and functioned as his interpreter. When my mom and dad started keeping a closer eye on me, my brother started talking in full sentences almost immediately. My brother already knew how to talk. He just didn’t have to.
As parents, there comes for each of us the day when our teens will start talking in full “spiritual” sentences. Oh, the process may be delayed if we keep interpreting for them, as I did for my brother. We can be tempted to make assumptions about whether or not our child is saved. We often make excuses for our child’s behavior and motives. But when we finally step back and our child starts speaking with his choices and actions about the things that matter, will he be speaking God’s language?
Many of us think our 3 year olds are too young to understand life. We think our 8 year olds care nothing for anything except playing with legos or dolls. But we have found in our home that children do care.
We have discussed a lot of topics in our home. We talked about heaven and hell. We talked about trials and hard decisions we were facing. We talked about God’s Sovereignty and we talked about the debate of election vs. free will. We talked about respect for authority, holiness, godly leadership and consequences of bad choices. We have always used God’s Word as our resource. If it isn’t in there, we can’t stand on it. We have even had discussions of traditions we, as parents, held dear to our hearts, but after discussing it with our family, realized were just that: traditions. They weren’t biblical and we admitted that. And, through it all, our kids listened to these discussions. And, as they got a little older, they participated. Oftentimes, they began some of these discussions with their own questions or thoughts. These discussions continue in our home even now on a very regular basis.
We have seen in the lives of our children the fruit of these discussions. Oh, they aren’t perfect, as many of you can attest to. But as we have let them “talk” on their own, we have seen that they were listening all along.
Raising kids is so difficult. But we can do ourselves a great favor by not underestimating our children’s ability to understand adult topics. Sure, there are some things they do not need to know. But don’t protect them from life’s hard decisions and discussions. If you show an example of relying on biblical Truth, they will see that. Then when we step back to let them start talking with their lives, they will use the Bible as their guide, as well. Are there some kids who are exceptions to this pattern? Yes. I acknowledge that there are.
We have a great responsibility as parents to teach our children God’s Truth. This can’t be done if the only things we are discussing at the dinner table is sports, the neighbor’s dog, and how the party went last night. Let’s discuss the important stuff, so that when our kids start talking in spiritual sentences, they are speaking God’s language.