Overcome lust. Lust is impure and unworthy desires for something evil. Instead of condoning sensual gratification, help your kids develop the virtue of chastity. Don’t expect your kids to fail to be sexually pure. Teach them to say “no” to sex rather than just asking them to try to “be safe” while having sex because you expect them to follow the crowd. Trust that God will give your kids the power to resist sexual temptation – especially if you regularly pray for them and talk with them openly and honestly about the challenges they face in that area. Be sure to have plenty of planned and purposeful discussions about sex with your kids instead of just reacting to surprise questions they ask or unexpected situations in which they find themselves.

Don’t overreact when talking about sex with your kids, so they don’t get the idea that sex is bad, dirty, or shameful. But don’t underreact to the very real dangers of sexuality that’s expressed in unhealthy ways. Do all you can to protect your kids from those dangers, such as by installing Web-filtering software to prevent pornography on your home computer, encouraging your teen daughter to dress modestly, and teaching your teen son how to properly respect the girls he knows.

Instill faith. The most important investment you can make into your kids’ lives is to nurture their faith in purposeful ways. Don’t just outsource your kids’ spiritual growth to church leaders. Personally teach them about faith and model faith in action for them. Rather than just occasionally attending church, participate fully in a congregation so you and your kids can grow beyond surface faith to deep transformation. Don’t be haphazard about living out your own faith in front of your kids; seek and follow God’s guidance in every part of your life, every day. Show your kids how exciting it can be to live out adventures in a close relationship with Jesus – and encourage them to do the same.

Published April 3, 2009.

Adapted from How to Mess up Your Child’s Life: Proven Strategies and Practical Tips, copyright 2009 by Olivia and Kurt Bruner. Published by FaithWords, Nashville, Tn., www.faithwords.com.  

Olivia and Kurt Bruner live in Colorado Springs, where they write and speak for Focus on the Family. Kurt is Vice President of Focus on the Family Resource Group. They are the proud parents of three sons.