Oh, the sweet innocence of a newborn! There is nothing quite so special as holding a cuddly, soft newborn as they gaze up at you with wonder and amazement - their eyes so wide, their futures so bright. When is it, along the way, that we forget that innocence of the children that God has entrusted us with?

”Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Proverbs 22:6

I have clung to that Scripture many, many times when I was certain that I was a total failure as a mother. I have prayed that very verse repeatedly when my teenagers were furious with my parenting decisions. And in my years of parenting and counseling those who are also on the journey, there are many things I have learned through trial and error (and am still learning). But this simple fact I know is true.

As parents, we have the unique privilege and responsibility of shaping our children’s character.
The following are just a few of the areas for which we must be very cautious:

- Music, Internet, and Television — Do you have boundaries set up for your children in regards to media? Is there a time limit? Are there parameters about what they can and cannot view? Let me take it a step further. Do they see you viewing the very programs they are forbidden to watch? If so, what message are you sending? (In a few years, when you are older, it is okay for you to fill your mind with violence, sex, drugs, and profane language.)

- Honesty. What a simple concept! But consider this. When you find a $20 bill in the parking lot, do you readily turn it back in to management, even though it could really come in handy given your current financial situation? Do you ask your child to lie when answering the phone in saying, “She’s not available, right now.” However minor these infractions may seem, you are teaching your child that it is okay to be dishonest in certain instances.

- Prejudices – Whether we are talking about racisim, sexism, or economic status, we absolutely want our children to be free of such prejudices. Be careful not to categorize others based on the references above, but rather the content of an individual’s character.

Commit to raising children with the highest level of integrity and character that is beyond reproach. What a joy it will be to one day look at them as the fine, upstanding young men and women we had always hoped they would be. It starts now.

For more information on Jennifer Maggio and her ministry, visit http://www.jennifermaggio.com.