Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devil; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
It's a rather long passage but I wanted to give the whole context of what I'm talking about. What I gleaned most from these verses, and I'm sure there are many more things here than that, is that we need to nourish our children "up in the words of faith and good doctrine." We need to spend the time as parents to tell them what is good and what is bad. There so many times in our day and age, that men call evil, good and good, evil.
We tend as parents to take one of two paths. Either we tell them all the good and wonderful things but we forget or don't want to expose them to all the ugliness in the world. And there should be boundaries to how and when and how much we expose them too. Little children need to feel secure not scared. But as they grow, they need to see and understand that not everyone is a friend, not everyone is safe and there are things in this world that are best left alone.
The other side wants to prepare them and in the process of doing so, destroys their innocence. They tell too much of the ugly and forget that children will be both scared and overwhelmed by too much too soon. It is a balancing act and a delicate one too.
The best way to show them all of this is by simply reading scripture together. The Bible is full examples of sinners and their consequences and those who chose to follow God's commands and the benefits they enjoyed. It also shows plenty of suffering that comes to those who follow Christ. In other words, it gives them a realistic picture of life.
As we are talking with them about these things, we must be careful to show them where to find it for themselves. It's great to tell a story to a little child, but as they grow, they need to see it for themselves; to know where to go when they need that encouragement or exhortation again or where to find it so they can share with others. Don't sit on generalizations, show them chapter and verse. Give them the specifics; what God loves and what God hates. (II Cor. 9:7, Prov. 6:16-19) Don't tell them because I said so*, show them what God says. Give them the foundation of scripture so they know where and on what they stand. Our authority as parents comes from scripture, not simply because we have the title mom or dad.
I hope this blesses and encourages you and as always, please feel free to leave your thoughts and reflection in the comments. (Prov. 27:17)
*(There is a time and a place for instruction just as there is a time and place to expect obedience. I am not advocating explaining this every time you give them direction. When you are teaching a new concept or when you are reviewing something that has been slipping through the cracks, that is the time for foundation laying. When you are in the grocery store or at church is not the time for training. That is when you test what you have trained at home.)