Families come in various shapes and sizes and levels of maturity, so the question cannot be answered with perfect precision. However, there are some valuable biblical guidelines you can use to determine if your son — or if your whole family — can be considered “at risk.”
1. Understand what it means to be “at risk.”
“At risk” simply means to be exposed to harm or danger. Merriam-Webster takes it a step further by saying that being at risk means you are “in a state or condition marked by a high level of risk or susceptibility.”
If we’re going to apply this term in the broadest sense, every member of your family — and, therefore, your entire family — is at risk.
I Peter 5:8 tells us to “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Right before listing the daily necessity of putting on the Armor of God, Paul says, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:10-12).
If Satan had the audacity to try to tempt Jesus, we know He’s coming after us.
We are all at great spiritual risk of sinning against our Creator God. We’ve all done it, and we all will likely do it again. This means that every parent needs to be vigilant to guard his own heart as well as teach his children to do the same.
And that leads to our second consideration.
2. Determine your child’s APN (Average Parenting Needs).
According to II Timothy 3:16-17, God designed the Scriptures to accomplish four tasks: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
The Bible teaches us what is right and what is wrong. The Bible reproves us by showing us when we’re wrong. The Bible corrects us by helping us turn from the wrong to the right. And the Bible trains us by helping us stay in the right and avoid the wrong.
As parents, God expects us to use His Word to accomplish those same four tasks in the lives of our family members.
But, before we can move on, it must be understood that each of those “jobs” requires participation from our children.
In the same way Truth about God can be lost on us when we’re daydreaming at church (don’t pretend it’s never happened to you!), if our children don’t participate in the learning process, our teaching falls on deaf ears and no Truth is learned.
This applies to reproof as well. You can tell your child what they did was a sin, but if they don’t believe you or care, they haven’t participated and are therefore unprepared to move into the Correcting Stage.
So, what is an Average Parenting Need? If your child refuses to learn even the most basic concepts of the faith, they need increased teaching. If your child is learning the Truth but not applying it to their lives, they need more reproof.
The degree to which your child is at risk is going to increase depending on their Average Parenting Needs. Children who regularly participate in genuine, biblical training by fleeing evil and living righteously are at a low risk of being consumed by the roaring lion.
Children who — like the James 1 double-minded man — flip-flop between sin and sanctification are unstable in all their ways. Even though they are tender and quick to apologize when they’re caught in their sin, they are far more likely to stumble and fall and suffer the spiritual consequences of their choices.
Children who reject your reproof, who refuse to accept that they are wrong, are at a much higher risk of spiritual destruction.
And children who don’t even care to hear the Truth taught to them are at the highest level of risk.
Based off that criteria, how at risk are your family members?
Lastly, since teaching, reproof, correction, and training require participation from both parents and children, there is one more vital facet to determine your family’s degree of risk.
3. Consider your level of influence.
When you teach, does your child learn? When you reprove, does your child accept it? When you correct, does your child change? When you train, does you child grow?
If the answer is, “Yes!” then you have a high level of influence in your child’s life. But the harder it is for you to influence your children for the things of God, the more at risk they become.
My friends, all of our families are at risk. We’re all tempted to ignore God and do what’s right in our own eyes. That is the single most dangerous thing anyone can do! But some of our families are at a higher risk than others. So, what’s the next step?
Looking for Immediate Help?
Abuse. Though we read about horrible, twisted, terrible abuses happening all over our world, for most of us, to some degree, abuse has hit home with us personally. Maybe you are one of the few that have escaped hard and difficult abuse, but each one of us has been impacted in one way or another by abuse going on around us.
It is unremarkable, but the Bible speaks directly and often regarding abuse. I say it is unremarkable because the Bible speaks to all issues regarding the souls of people. Abuse is certainly a soul level issue. It shouldn’t surprise us that the Bible speaks so much about abuse.
Proverbs 1:8 begins, “Listen my son…” -- but what if he won’t? Is that just his problem? Do parents bear any responsibility to try to help their teen listen, or is our only responsibility to give wise counsel? If we know our teen isn’t listening to our wisdom, advice, reproof, and correction, what do we do? Galatians 6:1 certainly could apply here. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
As parents, we need to do all we can to remove stumbling blocks and barriers to good communication with our children, seeking to help restore them to obedience in listening to us as parents. Although the final responsibility is on our teens to listen, we certainly must make sure we are not failing in some areas ourselves and creating barriers to their listening.
Here are 8 barriers to good parent-teen communication and some ideas for busting them.
Of course we do not claim to speak for God. However, by application, we can weave the truths of Scripture into what a letter from God might look like if written to the parent of a teen son who is struggling in his relationship with God.
We encourage you to read this and then study for yourself the scriptures mentioned and let God speak to and encourage your heart.
Dear Mom or Dad,
Don’t be afraid, I am with your son. I know when he sits down and when he gets up, when he goes out and when he comes in. I formed him and made him. I understand him even though you may not. (Psalms 139) In my time and in my ways, I will strengthen him. I will help him. I will uphold him with my righteous right hand. (Isa 41:10 and Isaiah 55:8-9)
We all do it: young and old, childish and mature, rich and poor, fit and flabby. We all have thoughts about the “what if’s” of life. There is a lure to create our own personal fantasy “reality.” Fantasy seems to be an anchor element of our culture. This lure has its roots all the way back in the Garden of Eden, when Satan tempted Eve with the fantasy that she could be more and have more. There is often, in the back of our minds, a secret longing for a reality where we get what we want and are seen as the awesome, smart, popular, and/or talented person that we want to be known as to those around us. We do all we can to look cool - to be seen as “all put together.” The online world (whether gaming, social networking, or shopping) is built around feeding our fantasies of greatness. That is one key reason that the web is so compelling and captures our time, focus, and energy. We can be selective in what we divulge, and good feedback is cheap (and effective at winning more of our life’s investment). Fantasy can creep into the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the houses we live in, and the hobbies (and gear) we invest in.
Fantasy can even creep into the church we attend and the relationships we pursue.
The only time God is pictured as running in Scripture is when He is running to a son who has miserably failed. I love thinking about this story in Luke 15. The prodigal son had previously turned his back on his Father. He wasted his inheritance on alcohol, immorality and partying. All this crazy sinful living had landed him in a pig pen slopping hogs. The Bible says he finally came to himself and decided to go home, humble himself in confession of wrong and ask to be a servant instead of a son.
The Bible reminds parents and specifically dads not to provoke their children. Ephesians 6:4 says, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." What does it mean here when it says not to provoke your child to anger? The phrase "do not provoke your children to anger" basically means not to do things that cause them to be irritated, frustrated or even enraged. We (especially dads) have to be constantly aware of our actions and our child's reaction to make sure this is not occurring. It is important to remember that anger and frustration can show itself differently in our children based on their personalities. Some may actually become enraged and yell, cuss or even fight. Others of a more introverted temperament may become withdrawn, discouraged and defeated, feeling like they can never measure up to our expectations.
So you found porn on your son’s smartphone or computer, now what? Here are 6 things to remember and some ideas on how to guide him through this struggle.
1. Remember that God’s grace and mercy are always greater than sin. “Where sin abounds, Grace abounds much more.” Romans 5:20. You and your son are not alone in this situation. Reminding your son that this is sinful is not enough. Reminding him that there is hope for the sinner, forgiveness and victory in Christ is the complete story.
Every parent knows that with the much anticipated breaks from school also come the much dreaded words we all hear. “I’m bored. There is nothing to do around here.” As most parents have experienced, if boredom is not dealt with strategically and successfully, it can quickly turn into major problems. From sleeping all day to sibling rivalry to worse. These are issues no parent enjoys facing.
Here are some suggestions to consider as you navigate the upcoming breaks.
Counselee: “My wife doesn’t respect me.”
Counselee: “My parents are such idiots!”
Friend: “When you’re talking with atheists, it doesn’t do any good to quote the Bible to them.”