When my daughter was three, I snuggled with her on the couch as we watched the our first Disney movie. Snow White barely started when the queen’s voice and evil face sneered, “Bring me her heart in a box.”
If this were in real life, I wouldn’t let her watch this, I thought. I distracted my toddler, turned the movie off. I shared a family script we used often in our home, “This doesn’t honor God.”
Protecting the Vulnerable
Jesus says, “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6.
That’s a sober warning.
God highly esteems children. He commands adults in their lives to protect them. He cares about their physical safety, but even more their soul and spirit safety. Kids are vulnerable. It’s the job of parents and adults in their lives to shelter them, guide them, and guard them.
As parents, we chose what we knowing let into our children’s heart, mind, and soul. There are many things you can’t control in their lives. What you can influence is their belief system about good and evil, safe and unsafe, healthy and unhealthy.
Parents build the foundation of a child’s understanding of God, others, and themselves. Kids take their cues from the parents and significant adults in their lives about what’s okay and not okay. You help shape their early moral compass.
Ten Tips for Halloween and Beyond
Halloween is a great time to audit the guard rails around your child’s heart. Here are a few things to consider about the tangible and intangible messages around Halloween.
1.Talk with your kids about the images of death, spirits, and scary things. Going to Walmart, MacDonald’s or driving in your neighborhood at Halloween brings everything glorifying death and the spirit world in view. Ask God what He wants a child of your child’s age to know about these things.
2. Share the truth of the gospel when kids ask about death, demons, or evil. Examples might be, “When you have Jesus as your Savior and he lives in your heart, you don’t need to fear death because you have eternal life!” “Jesus is light, not darkness.” “Jesus rose from the dead, so we don’t need to fear death.” “Satan is God’s enemy, but you don’t need to fear him. We belong to Jesus, and He overcame Satan through his death when he rose from the dead.”
3. Follow up with Bible verses about Jesus and the love of God. 1 John has multiple verses about the love of God in Christ Jesus. John 10 focuses on Jesus being the Good Shepherd. Focus more on who Jesus is and less about his adversary, pouring the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ into your child’s heart.
God has an amazing way of speaking to children in their inner being about things we could never put words to. The truth of the gospel embedded in your child’s heart builds that strong foundation for them.
4.God’s word is living and active. Pour it into your child’s heart. The Bible has a way of speaking in the life of your child that counteracts human logic. When wondering how to answer a child’s question, go to God’s Word, asking Jesus Christ to help you answer with the heart and mind of God (which is what the Bible is!)
5. Guard the influence of evil things in your home and family. I grieve that the most beautiful time of year is littered with skulls, ghouls, and ghosts. Be sensitive to the images all around your child this time of year, especially in the media. What T. V. shows, movies, or video games are you or your family watching? Are they adding to the healthy foundation of beliefs for your child’s age? Or are they instilling fear and confusing messages?
6. Guard the influence of evil spirits in your home and family. Anything opposing God, Jesus Christ, goodness, purity, godly love, holiness, innocence, righteousness, and biblical truth is not from God, it’s from the devil. God calls you, the parent, to be your child’s guardian, using a protective shield over your family in the spiritual battle for the heart of your child.
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can stake your stand against the devil’s evil schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 6:10-13.
7. Does the presence of God, the flesh, or the enemy of God permeate your home? While you may not actively open to the door to the enemy of God, he is the ruler of this world. If something is not for God, reflecting the gospel of Jesus Christ, the character of God and his plan for humanity, then it’s not of Him. It’s of the devil. It’s that simple.
8. Use family scripts. A simple script we used in our home was, “That doesn’t honor God.” I didn’t make a big deal about a lot of things, but simply stated why we didn’t watch a show, read a book, participate in something, or do what everyone else seems to be doing.
9. Evil is increasing. Your child needs the tools to navigate an evil and frightening world beyond Halloween.
- Suicide rates are growing. Thoughts of death are becoming an option for young kids, not just a thought of escape. Rates of suicide for ten to fourteen year olds has tripled in ten years and is 76% higher for older teens. Something is incredibly wrong in our culture. The glorification of death doesn’t help the thoughts kids wrestle with.
- Child sexual abuse is increasing exponentially. 45 million images are being watched, produced, and downloaded online by people in your neighborhood and in every town and working environment. The hard data confirms the forces of evil are more prevalent than in past generations. The porn industry feeds this.
10. Guarding your child’s heart isn’t a one time thing, it’s an ongoing dialogue and conversation throughout their childhood until they are fledged from the nest. Halloween is just one area where you’re teaching your child discernment.
At the end of the day, you and I are responsible to God for what we knowingly allow in our child’s life. Did (_________) (that show, that event, that activity) point him towards God? The world? Or the enemy of God? You can’t protect them from everything. But the things you can build a strong internal structure of beliefs, truth, and security.
Jesus told the disciples he was sending them out as sheep among wolves. “So be as wise as a serpent and as innocent as doves,” Matthew 10:16.
Your child is a sponge, taking in everything around them, most of which he or she doesn’t have control or choice over. So help them be wise while also innocent. Equip them with your armor of God while they are developing their own. And guard their heart. It’s what God calls us to.
Unless the Lord build the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman watch in vain. Psalm 127:1.