Friday, February 17, 2012

A Word to Parents…(Worth reading!)


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


Kelly said...

Thank you for posting this. As a Mom to 2 young girls it is scary out there. You are so right on all of these points. It's a tough world to raise children out there with everything they are exposed to. We need to keep them as safe as possible!

Thank you for sharing!

Mary Watson Capron said...

Thank you so much for posting this. Most people are too worried about "stepping on someone's toes" or being PC but you had the courage to voice an opinion/decision based on your belief in Christ. What a wonderful example.

Emily said...

you are so daring to post this!!! MEGA props for that!!! i agree 100% with EVERY SINGLE WORD!!! it's like our culture blames mcdonalds for our obesity yet parents keep filling their kids up on happy meals. Ridiculous!!! I'm nervous for the future of our country...It is honestly a BIG reason I feel so strongly about having so many kids. Yes, it's a scary place to raise them but I have faith that Zach and I will raise them up in the Lord and the world NEEDS more strong Christians in it!!! Now more than ever!!! Love you and appreciate your boldness on this!!!!

Danielle said...

Very well written! I agree 100%! It's absolutely appalling to me the way some kids act, I could never imagine myself being like that. There is such a fine line too because I do enjoy things like Lady Gaga and loud disturbing music and movies, but at the same time I have NEVER been in trouble (because I never did anything wrong). You have to find that line where you let the child enjoy themselves yet still teach them morals and values. Very tough!

JPeace said...

One word - BRAVO!

Lauren said...

I agree with everyone else! Great post! Kids are subjected to so much... parents really need to step up their game and protect their kids more from all the bad out there!


Amanda Jones said...

Agree with you're reply 100%

Miss V said...

Thank you for this post, as a teacher I totally get your perspective, as a future mother I do understand that my role is to protect, nurture, and teach my children to be responsible, kind, loving people, there are so many outside influences a topic that comes up a lot in my house and how to best handle them. There are so many obstacles in parenting, but I believe that with positive adult role models such as yourself as well as current mothers and one day moms we have to have more of these conversations and not be afraid to step on toes. The emotional and physical health of our children should always come before our insecurities of hurting another parents feelings. Thanks for the post, totally on my mind lately as well.

Kelly Ford said...

ONe book i'd recommend: Shepherding a Child's Heart.
It speaks DIRECTLY to the issue of unbiblical goals for our children and unbiblical methods for raising and disciplining them.
And then teaches us what the Bible Says.
You'll love it. And you'll recommend it to any of your kids parents :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with this 100%. I understand how it can happen because I am a people-pleaser and wouldn't want my kids to hate me or be mad at me but they do need boundaries and limits, they need to be taught self-discipline and purity, and they need responsible, loving adults in their lives that care about doing the best thing for them, not just the easiest thing. I think you will be a great mother someday!

Jamie Lynn said...