It is a time that parents dread and children look to with joy. I am talking about sending our children to college. If we are fortunate, they will be accepted at institutions of learning that follow Christian beliefs but in this world even that is no guarantee as few places can be considered safe these days. Our world is full of temptations: alcohol, drugs, pornography, sex and lewd music. It is our duty as parents to help our children build their suits of righteous armor to protect them from the evils of the world.
So how do we prepare our children to enter the world without our constant guidance? It all begins at home and at an early age. In countless studies around the world it has been shown that a religious upbringing in a nurturing environment does much to insure children will avoid the pitfalls of living for the first time away from home.
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. —Deuteronomy 6:7 KJV
Start with setting a consistent Christian example. Shower on them the love that Jesus Christ commanded us to give them. Get into the habit of praying as a family at all occasions. Meet as a family to read and discuss the Scriptures. Go to church on a regular basis and participate in church organized projects (especially ones where church volunteers go out into the community).
Thus prepared, our children can go forth into the world without fear and with a purpose. As they enter college life they will soon find many people who do not share the same moral beliefs that they do. It is at this point that they need to become missionaries. They begin this missionary work by first praying. They begin the prayer by thanking Heavenly Father for the Christian upbringing that they have enjoyed and the opportunity to share the Gospel with others and then ask for help in avoiding the temptations and the opportunity to share their love of Christ.
College affords our children an opportunity to come in contact with many different cultures, views and religious upbringings. While it may be educational for them to listen to various differing views, they must still stay grounded in their core set of beliefs and values. Setting the example of a wholesome Christian upbringing can be a challenge. Practicing celibacy, abstaining from drugs or alcohol and reading Scriptures may mark your children as different. It is important for them to remain vigilant and not surrender to the gross temptations of the world.
Once they are off to college, keep in touch. Call them, send emails or use online video chat services like Skype to make sure they are okay. Don’t smother them, but make sure they know that you are there if they need you. Assure them that they are doing the right thing no matter what their peers say. Over time, their classmates will come to respect their Christian beliefs and manners.
Once they are settled into the college routine, encourage them to seek out people with like-minded principles. Many colleges have Scripture study groups as well as arrangements with local churches. Continue the routine of observing the Lord’s Day.
Above all, teach your children not to be shy in sharing the Gospel. Even in this day and age of mass communication there are countless youth who have not been exposed to the light of Christ and His teachings, yet yearn to be taught. As missionaries of the Gospel it is your children’s duty to go forth into the world and share their joy.
And he saith unto them Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. —Mather 4:19 KJV