I am always hesitant to write anything about parenting or raising children because obviously I do not have kids yet. I know things change when you do; your attitude, feelings, perspectives. I’m sure I will do things I thought or said I would never do. I know I will make many mistakes. I know everyone has different views, beliefs, and approaches to parenting, and I am not saying mine is right or will be better than anyone else’s. In fact, I’m not comparing. I will say this though…. Jonathan and I have already determined that our parenting will be based on Biblical standards. That is the only standard we plan to use. We both already pray for that and have been praying for that for a while, and I feel confident that is one thing that will not waiver.
Anyway, with that little disclaimer (that I am NOT bashing parents or judging others’ parenting skills), I do want to share some of what I have seen take place with this generation of youth. I feel like I can offer some valuable perspectives because of of the extensive interaction I have with young people. I teach 150 students every day….nearly 600 students a year….and interact with 1200 students throughout the school. For the last 6 years I have been in and out of schools across the county. I also serve in the youth group at church, teach a middle school Sunday school class, have coached several teams, worked at summer camps, volunteered at youth events, and taught pitching lessons to several young people throughout the past 6-7 years. I feel like working with youth is “my calling,” so I interact with this generation of youth A LOT.
Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of the harmful behaviors they are participating in multiply exponentially in the past few years. Students as young as 11 are smoking pot, taking prescription drugs, drinking, are sexually active, lie to their parents, sneak out, post or text inappropriate pictures of themselves, having crazy grinding or rainbow parties, cutting themselves, and claiming to be bisexual….just to name a few. I think anyone would agree with my that those behaviors are NOT acceptable (any time in my opinion) at such a young age. But it is reality.
Although I do blame the media for setting a poor example for our kids, even more than that I feel as if it is a parent’s responsibility to guard and protect their children from the corruption. Students are watching shows like Teen Mom, Secret Life of the American Teenager, Jersey Shore, South Park, Family Guy….Listening to Lady Gaga, Pit Bull, Katie Perry, Lil Wayne, Mac Miller, Nikki Manaj, etc….watching movies like The Hangover, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Knocked Up,…playing video games like Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, Modern Warfare, etc. How can we help our kids make good choices and live pure, holy lives when they are constantly watching and listening to inappropriate crap?? How can we help them enjoy their childhood when we are allowing them to throw their innocence out the window by being exposed to this type of stuff?
I believe exposure to the (inappropriate) media desensitizes them (and us) to sin, and they are more likely to participate in inappropriate behaviors themselves. While their minds are still so impressionable and they are molding into who they will be in the future, parents need to be involved in and aware of what their kids are exposed to.
It robs them of their childhood. I see every day girls that are trying to look and act WAY older than they are….getting highlights and spray tans, wearing Victoria’s Secret and a full face of makeup, as young as elementary school. What happened to the days of playing outside?? Or playing with Barbies? I know times are changing, but it is not for the better I’m afraid.
One thing I see a LOT of is parents trying to be their child’s friend. They allow their children way too much freedom, control, and choice. Children are running their households (which in my opinion is why our society is so screwed up….our homes are out of order). They don’t discipline because they don’t want to hurt their child’s feelings and don’t want their kid to be mad at them. They defend their child when they screw up. They promote partying, sexual immorality, and sin by buying alcohol for them, allowing co-ed sleepovers and unsupervised parties, etc. They go into debt so their children can have the latest and greatest. They do not prepare them for “real life.” I also know there is a difference between protecting and sheltering. I think there is a balance in teaching children about the thing of this world so they recognize and know how to guard their hearts against it, and completely sheltering them so they are shocked by reality and don’t know how to handle it appropriately when they are on their own.
The Bible calls parents to LOVE, teach, guide, direct, protect, instruct, discipline, and pray for our children. That is our responsibility as parents. I think even non-believers can agree that although they may not go by Biblical standards necessarily, they still want to raise their children to be responsible, mature, honest, hardworking, thriving, productive members of society and protect them form behaviors that could harm them.
I have heard several parents give their children condoms, birth control, or alcohol to drink in the home (because they know they are safe there) because they want to protect their kids. That seems like an oxymoron to me. They say they don’t condone those behaviors, but they’d rather them be “safe” than end up pregnant, getting someone pregnant, or drinking and driving. Parents teach their kids it’s okay to break the law, but then get mad at them for not obeying their rules. I think parents don’t understand that while they may be protecting their kids from worldly consequences, they are not protecting their hearts. Their innocence. Their youth. Kids are not emotionally strong enough or mature enough to handle adult decisions….and although we may not see outward consequences, I can promise they are hurting on the inside.
I have also seen things, like on Facebook, where a daughter posted something really hateful and hurtful about another person. Her mother liked her status. They both claim to be Christians, but that is not very Christ-like. I know that I screw up every single day and fall short….but when I do I am usually convicted and ask for forgiveness. I hope I never get to a place where I am encouraging my child to be hateful, gossip about others, or hurt others intentionally.
One thing I have learned in my 5 years of teaching is that kids CRAVE boundaries. They desire positive attention. They will rise to high expectations. They want to know where we stand on issues and want to be instructed on what is right and wrong. They want to be encouraged and loved.
They need to be taught that you reap what you sow. Their childhood and innocence needs to be protected. They need to be loved, and in loving them it is our job to lead, guide, direct, instruct, encourage, discipline, protect, and teach them.
This was on my heart this week as I have seen seventh and eighth graders broken over losing their virginity…As I have been in the mall and heard students using disgusting language and wearing really inappropriate clothing…. As I have seen Facebook interactions that make almost nauseas. I know many parents may not know what is really going on with this generation, and I certainly did not write this to be discouraging. We blame the youth, but I believe they are a product of their raising.
I just wanted to be a reminder about the great role and responsibility we are entrusted with as parents….
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” Mark 9:42
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:7
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6