They know it’s wrong. They have learned it’s harmful. Why, then, do children still choose to experiment with drugs and alcohol?
Think of a hungry lion, stalking its prey—the weak and vulnerable—those who wander from the group. The beast selects a target and waits. That is how Satan operates (1 Peter 5:8). Our children are unprotected when it comes to dealing with the temptation to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
Thank God, Scripture also describes the model for Christian parenthood to counter Satan’s efforts. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). But what exactly does that mean?
- Parents, do not cause your child to become bitter. Do not physically, sexually, or verbally abuse your child. Do not withhold your love. Don’t be overly critical. Don’t set unrealistic expectations. Do not expect your child to be what you were not. Don’t make your child overly dependent on you.
- Bring your child up in a nurturing environment. Show your love in words and actions. Spend time with your child. Listen. Make an effort to understand.
- Train your child to behave in a way that gives glory to God’s name. That kind of behavior ﬂows out of love for the Savior and a desire to serve him. Such training includes being an example for your child to follow. Be a model of how drugs and alcohol can be used in an appropriate way.
- Instruct your child in God’s Word. Hold family devotions. Pray with your child. Attend church together. Extend and expand your child’s religious instruction and faith life by making use of agencies that provide Christian education. And then reﬂect the same religious training that your child receives in a Christian school or Sunday school in what you say and do at home.
A child who experiences this kind of love at home is less likely to look for recognition and acceptance in places that could prove dangerous.
But some parents have done everything humanly possible to help their children avoid these temptations, and their children have still fallen victim to the hungry lion’s assaults. The parable of the prodigal son reminds us that some children will need to learn things the hard way. Parents of such children can ﬁnd comfort in the hope that what they taught in their children’s early years will still be at work in their hearts in later years.