Tell Your Kids Your Story

One of the greatest tools parents have to teach their children is the lessons learned along the way. Don’t miss opportunities to share your stories of success and failures to help them navigate their paths.

One of your children’s most beloved books in your home might soon be your high school yearbook. Your children know you as a responsible (or somewhat responsible) adult fully equipped with bills, a job, and a minivan, yet before they ever knew you, a lot of your life had already been lived. Seeing your extracurricular activities, fashion statements, and funny hairdos in your yearbook opens up an entire new world to them concerning your life.

Most parents became followers of Christ before their children were around. Even if you became a Christian later in life, your personal testimony is not information that they inherently receive.

  • The greatest story you will ever tell your children will be God’s story of how he brought redemption to mankind.
  • The 2nd greatest story will be how your story intersected with God’s story – the story of your salvation.

As your children grow, they will have different levels of doubt concerning the Christian faith. You might even experience a child arguing with you concerning your personal beliefs.  While they may resort to arguments, they can’t argue with results. One of the greatest ways to teach your children concerning salvation and walking with Christ is by sharing your personal testimony with them.

If you have truly been changed by the gospel, they can’t argue with the fact that Jesus changed you. Depending upon the age, you will use different wording or select different portions of your story to tell, but you can’t begin too early sharing with your children how Christ made all things new in your life.

What Scripture Teaches

Psalm 78 showed the need for parents to speak to their children concerning three things: 1) the faithfulness of God, 2) the frailties of that generation, and 3) the potential of the next generation. He teaches parents that if they can only share their personal shortcomings, possibly their children could bypass some of those mistakes. By no means do I recommend sharing all the gory details of your past. Details are not needed. You want to equip your children with lessons to protect them from mistakes, not scar them for life with war stories of your own. Share with your children the big picture of how life can get off track if you don’t keep him first.  

While it is ideal for parents to teach their children the goodness of God and the frailty of mankind earlier in a child’s life rather than later, unfortunately, that is not what usually happens. Realistically, many parents are faced with a crisis in a child’s life that brings about guilt and regret. In those moments, many parents wish they would have been more forthright with their children than they were.

What Examples Teach

As a minister, I normally have plenty of words to share in a counseling session, but one particular meeting with some parents left me nearly speechless.  This couple had come to see me for guidance in dealing with their collegiate daughter. Enjoying to the hilt all that college could provide, her appetite never seemed fully quenched. She was bouncing from guy to guy, dropping classes like it was her hobby, and partying at a dangerous level.

These concerned parents came to me to see what I could do to make their daughter change her life.  Her latest escapade had collected quite the array of consequences to accompany her behavior, and they were seeking assistance to get her back on the right track. Mortified by her choices, these parents were bewildered by how she got herself into this situation. The pacifist in me wanted to encourage them and lead them in prayer. The Spirit of God in me had another idea. I was beckoned to speak the truth in love to this couple (Eph 4:15).

Why were we shocked that this young lady had gotten pregnant out of wedlock when that is exactly what her parents had done? Why was everyone scratching their heads as to why this girl would succumb to temptation after temptation when her parents had lived that same lifestyle before they straightened up? Everyone was wondering how such a “nice, Christian girl” could get into such a dilemma, and yet her parents never warned her about the dangers of that already-trodden path.

What You Must Teach

Parents want the best for their children. Would you be willing to give the best to your children if it included getting intentional and personal? Once again, your children do not need to hear every sordid detail, but hearing the stories of your positive and negative choices could spare them from repeating the same mistakes and living through some of the same consequences you had to endure.  

Sometimes teaching your kids to follow God means that you must tell them that they shouldn’t follow your example. The greatest admission to your children might be that you have not been perfect but how we are all in need of God’s grace daily. Provide that voice in the back of the raft showing the next generation the way. As you share with them the mistakes you have made, do not neglect to remind them concerning the faithfulness and grace of our God which has kept you to this day and can keep them as well.