I was eating dinner at a Mexican restaurant a few years back with a student in the community. He had just recently been caught with some questionable text messages that he had been sending and receiving from girls he knew and girls he had never met. Part of his punishment was having his phone taken from him. He could not understand why his parents were “over-reacting.” He did not think the text messages where that big of a deal.
Our conversation led into a discussion about abstinence and how God created females, not as an object, but as an incredible plan for life long marriage. I talked about the delicate responsibility of sex and why God created it. I could tell that he was getting aggravated and he finally blurted out, “But I don’t think it’s that big of a deal; it’s just sex.” My mouth dropped. After sitting in my emotions for a moment and gathering my thoughts, I said, “But this is not how we treat females.” And then he said something that affirmed everything I always believed about media, “But that’s how they do it in American Pie.”
Media is power, and its lucrative power is influencing!
I think what hurts the most in the conversations I have with teenagers is when I learn about the gap that exists between them and their parents. It could be as simple as parents who are always working or as difficult as a divorce that is still fuming. Whatever the reason, conversation is not happing and parents are often checked out. It’s this gap that is causing teenagers to learn morality through peers and media. We assume kids know better, but the truth is they don’t and we avoid filling this gap with much needed dialogue and we risk loosing our kids to the messages of the world.
So how do we fill this gap?
Spend time with your teenagers. I constantly find teenagers who long for wisdom and advice. I find that many, not all, but many lack the interaction they need with their parent(s) to create an environment of conversation. Spend unscheduled time with your child. I like to share the idea of a late night trip to waffle house just for the heck of it. That interaction with your kid speaks volumes. It moments like that which creates environments of conversation and life change.
Disciple your teen. Take advantage of the time you have with your children and teach them how the Bible directs us to love each other, to respond instead of react, to trust in the midst of trails and suffering. Live out the gospel in your own life so that they may see your fruit.
Listen to what your kids are saying, and do research. Study the apps they download, listen to the music they listen to, and watch what they are watching. Don’t turn a blind eye. Do the hard work now so that you can enjoy the blessings and fruit of your labor later in life.
You are your child’s parent; not their best friend. May I free you to protect and love your child. It is the greatest role you will ever play.