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Motherhood is joyful but daunting. We never feel like an expert because the subject keeps changing. Just when we know how to parent a toddler, it’s time for elementary school. Once we’ve gotten tweens figured out, we’re parenting teens—and then, all of the sudden, we’re waving goodbye as they head off to college. As we go through each stage, we’re bombarded with a list of advice and things we need to “make sure” to do so our children succeed.

  • Make sure to play classical music so their brains develop best.
  • Make sure to pick the most educational toys.
  • Make sure to start travel sports teams early so they can play in college.
  • Make sure they eat only healthy foods.
  • Make sure they play an instrument.
  • Make sure to be in the right neighborhood so they go to the right school.
  • Make sure to hire a tutor so they score well on all their tests.

In an effort to do all the things we’re supposed to do, we run our children from playgroups to practices, all the while somewhat confused and lost in the haze, wondering, Am I doing everything I’m supposed to do?

We’re searching for purpose and something called success, but many days, we lose sight of our main goal as Christian parents: we want our children to know Jesus. It’s the only message that matters, but sometimes in all our living we forget to tell our children how to truly live.

Sometimes in all our living we forget to tell our children how to truly live.

I wrote Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know to make sure I told my children, as clearly as possible: “Whatever you do in this world, the most important thing I want for you is to know, love, and follow Jesus.” Whatever job they do, whatever sports they play, whatever success or failure they have, all that ultimately matters is knowing Jesus. It’s a message our children need to hear, our teens need to hear, and parents themselves need to hear.

Children Need Reminders

Our children hear so many messages from us each day:

  • Clean your room. 
  • Pick up your socks. 
  • Brush your hair. 
  • Buckle your seatbelt. 
  • Do your homework.

In all the coming and going of life, it’s easy to get so busy with daily tasks that we forget to talk about eternal truths. Yet, the most important message I’ll ever convey to my children is the gospel.

The most important message I’ll ever convey to my children is the gospel.

I hope my children hear every day from my lips the good news of Jesus—that he made them, he loves them, and he’s good, kind, and true. Books can help us by speaking the words we most want to communicate and by giving our children images that help them understand—in warm and whimsical ways. Over time, these messages settle into their hearts and minds and have the power to transform their lives.

Teens Need Reminders

I wrote Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know when my children were teens. It’s tough to be a teenager—and not just because of relationship dramas and unsightly facial blemishes. The messages they hear about the importance of worldly successes and accolades get louder and more frequent as they enter the teen years. The pressure is intense. Well-meaning adults regularly ask, “What do you want to be?” “Where are you going to college?” and “What’s your major?” Everything seems to revolve around getting into the right college, choosing the right major, and finding the right spouse. No one means to communicate that you have to know at 17 what you want to do for the rest of your life—but often that’s what comes across to the teen being asked these questions on a near-daily basis.

In all the coming and going of life, it’s easy to get so busy with daily tasks that we forget to talk about eternal truths. Yet, the most important message I’ll ever convey to my children is the gospel.

Teens especially need the reminder, “Whatever you do, the most important thing is to love Jesus.” Yes, work for good grades, play hard on your sports team, and serve in your community—those are all good. But, in the midst of so many pressures, we can simplify life for them by reminding them what’s most important—cultivating a relationship with Jesus.

Parents Needs Reminders

While Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know might seem like a book for a child or graduate, it’s also a book for parents. We live in a world where some parents illegally pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to have exam scores doctored so their children can get into the right school. It’s not just our children who feel under intense pressure to make something of themselves—parents can feel their own success depends on their children’s success. Something is amiss. Culturally, we’re hoping in the wrong things for our children’s happiness, as well as for our own.

Our parenting can’t save our children, but God can use our homes to foster good soil for the gospel to take root and flourish.

That’s why we have to constantly remind ourselves of the most important lesson we want to teach our children. Everything else is secondary. And, as we teach our children about Jesus, we rely on God in new ways. The most important gift we want them to receive is one that only God can give: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). Our parenting can’t save our children, but God can use our homes to foster good soil for the gospel to take root and flourish. Each time we teach them about what is most important in life, we’re reminding ourselves. It affects our choices, our hopes, and our prayers for our children.

While some days with our children can feel like they may never end, the years fly by. Amid the coming and going, activities and education, may we remember to communicate the one thing that matters:

Jesus is everything.

Editors’ note: 

Melissa Kruger has a new book titled Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know. This article is published in partnership with The Good Book Company.

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