Have you ever pondered what appetites are set in your children and your ability to influence them either positively or negatively? As we began our child-raising years, Steve and I certainly didn’t. We were just trying to keep up with our daily life tasks. However as our older children began reaching their teen years, we saw the reality of reaping what you sow and the appetites in their lives.
What Appetites for Food Are We Creating?
As an analogy, we might start with the appetite for food. Why are some children picky eaters and others eat almost anything? The picky eaters often don’t like or eat vegetables and other healthy food. My children grew up eating what I liked and therefore prepared—not particularly healthy food but not strictly junk food either. My appetites in food became their appetites. To this day, some of their favorite meals are ones I prepared for them as children.
I have seen other children whose moms could only eat extremely healthy food because of the mom’s health problems or simply her choice to only serve healthy food. Those children grew up enjoying that healthy food. I also observe children whose moms have gardens. These children have fresh produce to eat during the summer and are often allowed to graze from that garden. They are generally excellent eaters.
As our children grow up, their appetites in life are formed in large measure by what their parents love to do and by what they expose their children to and allow them to do. For example, many adults stay up late watching TV and movies for relaxation and entertainment. They sacrifice family time and sleep for their own pleasures. Expectedly, that is what their children will probably grow up with an appetite to spend their time doing.
What About Other Appetites?
What if you didn’t want late nights and movies for your children? Could you affect it differently? Likely you could if you chose not to watch TV and movies but rather do other activities. For Steve and me in the evenings, we began to read the Bible as a family, spend time with our children, and go to bed early enough to get up and have personal Bible time and exercise before our work day began. With that example, our children should gravitate to productive evenings with family Bible time, other family activities, and early bedtime. That is the reality we see in our four married children’s families.
Steve and I had happy memories of Halloween growing up. So we looked forward to our children having them too. However, after we were saved, our hearts grieved over the wickedness glorified on that evil holiday. Over time we completely distanced our family from participation and visibility of everything ungodly about it. You would think it was an easy transition away in those early days, but it wasn’t. Why? Because of how strong those appetites were in Steve and my lives. Oh, friends, beware of the power of appetites. Don’t underestimate them.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). We are always training whether we realize it or not. It is important that we consider what is “the way he should go” and then purposefully work toward that.
While we might focus on trying to avoid negative appetites, this verse gives us a powerful example of positive appetites, “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (1 Corinthians 16:15).
What appetites do you want your children to have as adults? What do you want them addicted to? How can you shape that? What might you need to change now in your own life to help your children not have your appetites that you know are not good ones?