Several years ago, one of my girls wanted to go to a friend’s house one Sunday afternoon. She asked her mom, who in turn wanted to know what I had said. Our daughter answered, “Dad said it was fine.” My wife then gave her consent. Later, when we were getting in the van after church that morning, I asked my wife where the missing daughter was. She said, “She went to her friend’s house. She said you gave her permission.” In reality, I hadn’t given her permission; instead, I had told her that her chores had to be done first—but they hadn’t been done yet.

At this point it would have been much easier to have a slack hand and just let her go. But it would not have been best for her. We didn’t drive home. Instead, we drove 12 miles in the opposite direction, pulled in the driveway, and there she was. Talk about a shocked look on her face! We picked her up and drove home. To this day, she clearly remembers that Dad came after her. Why? She tried to sneak off the right path and got caught. If we had allowed her to get by once, she would have known that she could get by again.

We do not lose our children to the world because of strictness that we should have loosened up. We lose our children because of the looseness we should have made stricter. We lose our children not because of high standards, but because we do not have their hearts closely enough to institute and keep the right standards.

Probably the number one reason good, Godly parents lose their children is that the parents violate Ephesians 6:4: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.” They get angry at the child, and that creates anger in the child. As a result, they lose the child’s heart.

What are some of the other influences that can take a child off the right path?

 

Love

Parents say, “Well, I just love my son too much to discipline him.” I’d like to suggest to you that that’s not really love—it’s emotionalism, and it spoils children. Your children need to feel Dad and Mom’s love, care, and protection at all times. But it is dangerous for you to spoil a child to the point that he does not feel the consequences of his own wrong attitudes or actions.

Real love makes a child do right. No matter what, it makes a child do right. It provides the diligent hand that says, “You have got to do this. I love you. You have got to do this.”

Personal Weakness and Failure

Some parents say, “Well, you know, I drank [or smoked, or caroused, or whatever], so I don’t feel like I can tell my child not to.” Your past is all the more reason to tell your children “No!”

Your kids don’t need to know all the details of your own past failures, and there are some things your children will probably be better off never finding out about. But do not let your failures be an excuse for your children to do wrong. Let your failures be a reason for your children to do right. 

Every parent has one of two good reasons to make sure his children stay on the right path. Either you can look at your child and say, “I did right, so can you,” or you can look at your child and say, “I did wrong, and I know how bad it is, so I’m not going to let you go the same way I did.”

 

Extended Family Members

Someone told me about a 5-year-old boy who was taking a reading readiness test. He used filthy language to his teacher right in the middle of it. The person telling me the story said that the boy had been around his grandfather, who had a terribly filthy mouth.

If you have good, godly grandparents and other relatives who support the rules and standards of your family rather than undermining them, thank God. But if you do not, be careful. As sad as it is, extended family members can be some of the most dangerous influences on your children. In fact, you may not be able to let your children visit them alone. Even if the relatives are well-meaning, they can still have a damaging effect on your children if they do not hold the same standards that your family holds.