We’re in This Together

Godly discipline should not be viewed as a competition for power. Help your son understand the roles God has assigned each of you in the parent-child relationship. Instill in him the idea that God has given you 18 years, or while he is living in your home, to teach him how to obey God and say no to sinful desires. And let your son know that his role is to learn how to follow the Lord and resist temptation so he is prepared to stand strong when he is a grown man.

What about the times when your son disobeys you and breaks the rules? Don’t be surprised. Everyone sins, and needs to know what to do when that happens. When your son does wrong, view his offense as an opportunity to teach him how to make things right in his relation¬ship with the Lord and with you, or whomever he has sinned against.

Work to build a relationship of trust with your son. Empathize with him as he battles with temptation. Telling your son you identify with his struggle, because you wrestle with sin as well, will help him believe you really do understand his trials. When you make yourself vulnerable in this way, he will come to seek your counsel.

If you try to seem as though you are never tempted, your pretense could serve to alienate your son from you. He may think you cannot relate to his struggles and therefore couldn’t possibly know how to help him. Or worse, he will see through your hypocrisy and be turned off by Christianity altogether.

By living an honest, transparent life in front of your son, you can teach him how to know victory over temptation and sin. While it is not wise to tell him about every sinful desire with which you struggle, you can help your son realize how closely you must walk to the Lord to live an obedient life.

Here are some practical ways to live with sincerity before your son:

  • When you lose your temper, ask your son to forgive you. You could say something like, “Ephesians 4:32 says we are to be kind to one another. Please forgive me for speaking harshly to you. I have asked God to forgive me for disobeying His Word, and to help me respond to you with kindness.”
  • If you have gossiped in your son’s presence, tell him the Lord has convicted you about your sin. Say you have asked for God to forgive you and help you to keep your tongue from evil (1 Peter 3:10). Ask your son to forgive you as well.
  • When your son has wronged you, forgive him. Explain how God gives you the ability to forgive and not hold a grudge.

Did you notice how many times the word forgive was used in the above list? Forgiveness should be a charac¬teristic of God’s people. By asking for your son’s forgiveness and readily extending forgiveness to him, you will build his respect for you and establish an environment which allows your son to better understand what God is like. You will make God attractive, and compel your son to desire Christ in his life.

The Lord Is My Banner 

As your son learns how to live the victorious Christian life, he needs to believe you are in his corner, praying he will be strong in the face of temptation. When your son struggles with sin, remind him of the story in which Joshua fought against the enemy while Moses held up the rod of God (Exodus 17:8-16). As long as Moses kept his arms reached toward heaven, Joshua had the strength he needed for victory.

From Moses’ and Joshua’s example you can learn some specific ways to encourage your son when he struggles against temptation:

1. Paint a word picture for your son of you on the hill, praying for his victory, while he, like Joshua, fights as a valiant warrior of God (see Ephesians 6:12-13. Teach your son that the Lord made Joshua victorious because he was faithful and because of Moses’ prayer, and you are confident God can do the same for him.