Parents have a profound impact on their children’s view of life, the world around them, and of God.
While every parent makes mistakes, there are some behaviors that can impact a child well into adulthood and even become stumbling blocks to their relationship with the Lord.
The good thing is, these profound impacts are not permanent. God can take every parental mistake and turn it into good. After all, He is faithful and just to forgive when we confess our sins to Him (1 John 1:9).
He loves our children more than we ever could and is able to turn every negative into a positive for His glory.
The first step is for parents to identify the beliefs, actions, and behaviors that might be impacting their children in negative ways. By recognizing them, they can then work on making the changes needed to offer their kids a healthy view of who God is.
Again, all parents make mistakes. This isn’t about being perfect.
The Lord is able to straighten out the most crooked of places and change the most wayward of hearts. The important thing is to come to terms with the ways our actions have impacted our children and determine to portray a loving, good, and just God, as outlined in His word.
If you’ve not been the best example for your children, and worry about the impact you are making, please take heart.
Here are 7 profound impacts we can have on our children’s view of God, along with tips and resources for influencing them in the best ways possible.
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1. The View That God Is Angry
Of all the impacts parents have on their kids, anger is most often mentioned by people who view God as wrathful and angry.
Sinful anger can be devastating to a child’s view of the Heavenly Father. There is a disconnect between their persistently angry parent and a loving, compassionate God.
The thing is, all parents get angry. It’s an emotion that everyone experiences. But when anger is a constant, go-to reaction, parents give their kids the idea that God is in a constant reactive state of anger as well.
As one woman put it, “My dad was always angry. It seemed like he was constantly seething inside and no none knew why. It was just the way he was. Sadly, I grew up picturing God that way—always angry without rhyme or reason.”
The Bible is clear about sinful anger in James 1:19-20. It says, "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”
Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. Nor does it give our kids an accurate view of a kind and loving God. My personal struggle with sinful anger ended when the Lord used my three-year-old son to bring it to light. I share more of my story in my book, Scarves of White: Replacing Our Issues with the Covering of Christ.
The good thing is, parents can turn the tide of their anger and begin to show love and compassion. They can have honest conversations with their children and even ask for forgiveness. This can have a huge impact for the good and shine light on the true nature of God.
More resources to help parents deal with anger:
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2. The View That God Is Absent
For children whose parents are often absent, they grow up believing God isn’t there for them either. It’s hard for kids to imagine a close relationship with Jesus when they have little connection to their parents.
Connection is crucial to a child’s wellbeing—not only loving, physical connection, but emotional and Spiritual connection as well. The thing is, many parents don’t know how to be actively engaged in their children’s lives. To them, it feels complicated and demanding, which can cause many parents to simply shut down and stop engaging altogether.
Fortunately, connecting with our kids isn’t complicated at all. When we include them in our everyday lives, such as washing the car, gardening, or driving to the bank, we are creating opportunities for open discussion and easy connection.
By simply inviting them to come alongside us, we are communicating to them that they matter to us and we enjoy spending time with them.
On the other hand, if we treat our kids as though they are burdens, and constantly try to distance ourselves from them, there’s a good chance they will grow to view God as a distant figure who is uninvolved in their day-to-day lives.
One of the most beautiful names given to Jesus in Isaiah 7:14 is Immanuel. It means “God with us.” Our children need to know that God is not some far-away entity in heaven. He is with them. He cares about what they care about. And He wants to be involved in every area of their lives.
If you’ve been a distant parent, keeping your children at arm’s length, don’t let the enemy convince you it’s too late to connect. Start small by inviting your child into your everyday routine. Teach them something new. Allow them to participate. Share with them what God is teaching you.
It won’t take long to connect in meaningful ways and actually enjoy it.
For more tips, check out 100 Easy Ways to Connect with Your Children.
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3. The View That God Is Untrustworthy
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard women say, “I have trust issues.”
This issue seems to be prevalent amongst people who were raised in unstable homes where parents weren’t reliable. Through broken promises, lack of follow-through, and instability, many have grown up to believe that people can’t be trusted. And unfortunately, it warps their view of God.
If you have trust issues, you can probably attribute some of those issues to the way you were parented. Perhaps, you were abandoned as a child. Maybe, your parents said one thing but did another.
Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
Children need to know they will never be forsaken. They need to know they can count on their parents to come through. This doesn’t mean parents won’t ever let their kids down. Instead, it means parents prove themselves reliable, dependable, and trustworthy by simply following through with what they say they’ll do.
Here are a few ways to build trust with your kids and foster the belief that God is trustworthy:
- Share key Bible stories of how God came through for people.
- Admit how you’ve let your child down and ask for their forgiveness.
- Start keeping your promises—even the small ones.
- Make your children a priority.
- Try some trust-building activities for kids.
Give this issue some time and don’t expect your kids to instantly trust that you will follow through. However, as you consistently show them you can be counted on, trust will be built one faithful step at a time.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17: 7-8)
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4. The View That God Is Lacking
When children aren��t well provided for, whether physically or emotionally, they might begin to view God as lacking. Especially if their basic needs go unmet, such as safe shelter, warm clothing, or regular meals, they might view God as uncaring or unable to provide.
While poverty is a serious issue for many families, it doesn’t have to define them. By trusting that God will provide everything you need, and passing your faith onto your children, you are giving them an accurate view of a God who not only cares deeply for them, but will provide what is needed.
Parents don’t need to feel ashamed or alone in their financial struggles. It’s okay to reach out and get help. As children see their parents doing what it takes to provide for them, their view of God will hopefully turn from what is lacking to a beautiful view of abundant provision found only in Him.
If your family is in need, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Here is a list of national services that might be able to help:
Share the name of God as mentioned in Genesis 22:14 (KJV). He is called Jehovah-Jireh, which means “God will provide.” Remind them that He will supply all their needs. Help them develop a view that God is able to provide exactly what they need when they need it—every single time.
“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107:8-9)
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5. The View That God Is a Genie
In a nation where consumerism is at an all-time high, parents might inadvertently impress on their children that God is like a genie in the sky who gives them everything they want.
I still remember sitting on my bed as a small child, closing my eyes and praying with all my heart that God would give me a new doll. When I opened my eyes, I remember feeling disappointed that God hadn’t made my new dolly appear!
Our children are watching us closer than we think. And when it comes to material things, we can either make an impact for the good or for the bad. God is not a genie in the sky. While He hears our prayers, He always answers according to His will for our good. And sometimes, not getting the thing we desire is the very best thing for us.
As parents, it’s important we don’t make comments about God that allude to Him giving us everything we want. Avoid statements such as:
“I asked for a car and God gave me a brand spanking new one!”
“The Lord has given me everything I have ever wanted, and He will do the same for you.”
“Just ask God. He will give you every desire of your heart.”
“God wants you to have the best of everything.”
While it’s wonderful to count our blessings and attribute what we have to God’s gracious hand, we must be careful not to paint a false picture of the Lord catering to our every desire. This is a dangerous belief that can have a profound impact on our children’s view of Him.
Here is an interesting article called 3 Ways We Sometimes Treat God like a Genie.
“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NLT)
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6. The View That God Is Unaffectionate
A lack of affection can have a major impact on how kids view the Lord. Often, children grow up thinking God is aloof or even abrasive because of the lack of tenderness in their homes.
Even if physical touch or words of affirmation don’t come easy to you, work hard to implement these things as much as possible. Hug your children daily and tell them you love them. Hold hands with them when you take walks. Affirm them by pointing out their strengths and achievements.
Remind them of who they were created to be, and how precious they are to you. Kids need these things almost as much as they need food and water.
According to this post, “You may think your kids should just know that you love them. After all, you’re their parent! But kids need to emotionally feel your love for them to really know that you love them. The way to help them feel your love is to communicate it in the way God has wired your children to best understand it – through each child’s distinctive love language.”
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “It’s not what you say but how you say it.” This is especially true for parents. When we’re frustrated, it’s easy to lose all signs of affection and talk to our children abrasively.
One idea is to start every conversation with two positives before a negative is addressed. For example: If your child has failed a math test due to lack of studying, you can start out by commending them on another school subject they’ve excelled in and how you appreciate their help around the house.
Then, as you address their lack of studying and the failing grade, you can set consequences as necessary without compromising love and affection.
Don’t let a lack of affection cloud your child’s view of God. You can still set firm boundaries and discipline them as needed, without portraying the false view that God is unaffectionate towards them.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19
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7. The View That God Controlling
A parent’s controlling ways can have a profound, negative impact on children that can last well into adulthood. These are the kids that tend to push the boundaries, reject authority, and rebel. And for many, they struggle to submit to a loving God who wants the very best for them.
While God is absolutely sovereign and fully in control, the view of God as a puppet-master is a false one. For children with extremely controlling parents, they might feel as though they have no freedom to make decisions in life, and that every decision they do make is wrong.
Here are few signs you might be too controlling as a parent:
- You are highly critical of your kids.
- You have an opinion about everything.
- You believe your way is best.
- You don’t listen well.
- You struggle to let insignificant things go.
If you resonate with some or all of these control issues, it’s not too late to make much-needed changes. No matter how old your children are, they can still benefit from seeing you release your controlling ways and soften your approach.
The thing is, when you release control to God, and begin to parent from a place of submission to Christ, you’ll find the lines of communication open and the hearts of your children soften. Let go of fear-based control and trust that God will lead you in the way you should go.
If you struggle with a controlling personality, here is an article that might help.
As parents have a profound impact on their children, keep in mind these impacts aren’t permanent. Changes can be made at any point along the journey. God is good at restoring broken things and renewing dysfunctional relationships.
Don’t let the enemy convince you it’s too late. Pray and ask God for wisdom moving forward, and trust that He will help you make an impact on your children for good.
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