Monday, March 31, 2008

Be-aware of the infamous highschool years

WOW!!! The infiltration of unGodliness in this world (even in our Christian schools) is worse than you can even imagine. I was recently out perusing my daughter’s MySpace and her friends Spaces as well… many of which I have known since ages as young as 3. I love them all – almost as if they were my own… and much of what I see breaks my heart and heightens my fear as we head into the infamous highschool years.

Luckily my daughter isn’t really into MySpace so there isn’t much action on her page, but on many of the kid’s pages there are comments from friends with occurrences of profanity over and over again. Many have so many comments you have to wonder if it is an addiction. On one friend’s page I was shocked to hear the most sexually explicit lyrics in a song that I have ever heard in my life – It was hard to listen to as one married for 15 years let alone from the innocent ears of 14-year-olds. On other pages I see pictures the kids have posted which are a bit more revealing than young girls (or anyone) should be. I read comments about boys in our Christian school who asked middle school girls if they would consider having sex. What an eye opener!!!

I’ve always strived to do what is right in raising my children – sending them to Christian school – carefully monitoring movies – attempting to censor tv – talking to my daughter about purity and waiting – even for the first kiss... Through all that hard work the sexual revolution is breaking through starting with some of the very children that I have come to know and love. I am not naive – I know it is going on and luckily I am engrained enough in her life that if something were going on that she didn’t share, her friends would let me in on the secret.

I am new with my own teenagers, but I have worked with youth since I was one myself! (nearly 15 years – how time flies). If I could give every parent tips for raising their teenagers, this is what I would say…

1) Get to know your teenager – (you need information to influence your children in making wise decisions)

  • Talk to your child. What are their likes and dislikes? Who do they like or don’t like and why? What is their favorite music? What do they do on the net? What activities do they enjoy and when is the last time you participated in it with them?
  • Play their Ipod on the stereo in the car – there is more trash in music that you realize… You should know what they are filling their head with. Music is the devil’s way to sneak into the lives and thoughts of our children.
  • Ask about their friends, who do they eat with, personality traits, which boys and girls are discussing inappropriate things. Did you know even in Christian schools there is a table where the “perverted” kids sit for lunch?
  • Go places with your teenager where their friends are present.
  • If she goes online, find out where – Do not let them have a website or social networking site without having the password. Randomly go online and see what is said to them, what they are seeing and hearing on their friend’s sites, what they are posting on their page, what music they are choosing to market who they are and what they like.
  • Randomly pick up their phone and read their text messages. They delete many messages or their space will fill up, but they should know that you are present and you care what is going on in their world.

2) Get to Know your Teenager’s Friends – (you will find out what your child is really like when you are not around)

  • Hang out with them… If you do that they will get to know you and will share a lot of interesting facts about your child, about themselves, and about other kids in their circle.
  • Listen to what they say to each other – this will give you insight into which friends you should encourage more contact with and which you should discourage contact with.

3) Be Accepting – (Make sure your child knows your position – but accept them and the choices they make – all decisions and consequences they make are ultimately theirs and if you want to be a part of their decisions you need to be accepting enough for them to share what is going on in their lives. As the Bible teaches make sure you train your teen in the way she should go and when they are grown they will not depart from it)

  • I was asked many times when my daughter had her first boyfriend, “Do you let her have a boyfriend?” and my response was always “I am not sure it is a case of let or not let as much as it is a case of whether I want her to tell me about it or not…” Kids will do what they want and all you can do is be a good role model, lead, guide, and pray. The time will ultimately come when you are not present or when they can sneak away. That is the critical moment where they need to be equipped with knowing what is right and what is wrong. They need to know why they shouldn’t do things and be prepared and confident in making the decision to follow the straight and narrow path.

4) Lead, Guide, and Pray for your Teenager and for Wisdom


James Gregory said...

Thanks for posting your knowledge on an important issue

I think you are right on; these people need involvement without dictation

And I want to add that from a perspective of a parent, I would see myspace in horrific light. What goes on at these people's pages are unbelievable. Christian education should really be blunt about sexual education because myspace is very aggressive in the way that it is used, allowing for sexually suggestive content on anyone's page, whether written, heard, or watched. It is scary!

The best defense is open, honest, and direct information, which really should come from the parents. But it is obvious that these people know more than they let on. It is certainly something that parents need to be aware of, and it is an issue that needs to be addressed by the Church, including Christian education.

Thanks again for sharing,


cheri said...

Your blog on this topic is wonderful. I would like to see it read by every parent. Your wisdom and your dedicated involvement in your kids daily lives is a wonderful inspiration and example.

It also made me feel a little less guilty about looking at those notes in your room when you were a teenager. Though I worried about invading your privacy at the time, I felt it much more important that I be an informed and relevant parent, than popular at the time.

In this era, it is more important than ever before that parents insert themselves in their kids' worlds. Those worlds are more and more lived out in cyberspace. There has never been so much opportunity for information and electronic relationship building. Kids don't just make a call to a friend anymore , or write A note. They maintain a text network of constant communication with any number of acquaintances and strangers 24/7.

Good for you for making it a normal expectation that you are going to look at text messages and visit websites! How else will parents be able to bring the wisdom and experience these kids desperately need in a world that grows more secretive and perverse by the day. Our children's lives depend on this type of cyber parenting. We should give classes on cyber detection for responsible parenting.

And grandparents need a wake-up call too. Age is no excuse! Grand parents have great opportunities to influence their grandchildren's lives. If they don't know how a video game works, or what comes across online or on an IPod, there will be little wisdom for them to impart which the kids can hear.

I am soooooo proud that you and Don are the parents to my grandchildren that you are. We have a big job getting children to the Lord in this increasingly perverse world!
Love, Mom (Cheri Douglas)

KadajKaiba said...

Thanks for posting this.

Most people would find this very wierd if they knew I read this, but I'm a 678 middle schooler myself. It's kind of embarassing, really, but whatever.

I really like to understand other people so I can avoid confilct with them, and adults seem to be my biggest problem. I tend to get in fights with my mom sometimes or I just don't see things the same way, and it gets really confusing. So thanks so much, this is helpful.

I see where you are coming from with the music some kids my age listen to. When someone I know is listening to something like that I ask him "What do you get out of that? Is there any meaning or purpose?" A lot of dumb tv shows are the same way. When I tell people they shouldn't be watching or listening to something, I don't say it's bad, because middle schoolers will think I'm trying to get them to be a goody goody. I say it's a waste of time and just plain stupid. A lot of kids will stop after I say that because I, another middle schooler, said it wasn't "cool"