The love of the Lord is caught and not taught. This takes time. This takes planned effort. I realize God has not called everyone to homeschool, but He has called every parent to talk to their children when they get up, and when they go to bed, and when they walk through life, and when they’re at home and when they’re out and about (Deut 6). Homeschooling is the easy way – parents with kids are in school and sports,or band – need to be even more creative and persistent to make this happen. But it is possible.
Movies. Video Games. Television. Music. Why not Life?
Hollywood is forced to admit that bad language, adult content, violence, and drug abuse is not appropriate “mind food” for teens. Music warns parents that lyrics may not be appropriate for growing brains. Parents are strongly cautioned against allowing their minor children to watch TV shows. And Video game designers warn that games are “too mature” for children under 17.
Life – PG18. Daily doses of “bad” language, sexual content, bullying, ungodly and/or unbiblical ideology require parental guidance until at least the age of 18.
Somehow, we have created an American Myth which says that small children need their parents and teens need their peers. I would like to interject a PG13 phrase here. TEENS NEED PARENTS.
Most all homeschool debate teams require parents to be a part of the team. They run tournaments, judge, coach, drive students around the state. And that’s not including all of the dinner and car discussions kids get into with their parents about how to solve world hunger, or how America can reform it’s justice system. They may not be talking about “Jesus” or the “Bible,” but there are important elements in these conversations which lead kids into a deeper faith in Christ. Kids see first hand how their parents live their lives for Christ. The more time kids spend with their parents the more likely they are to accept their values and lifestyle. And they are setting up an environment of communication in which faith can be passed along through words.
When my grown kids were still too young to watch PG13 movies, I took a group of students to a Church conference. It got out super late and we still had a couple of hours drive home. I drove each student home, well after midnight. I waited in front of the house as each student pulled their house key out of their purse and quietly snuck into their home in order to not disturb their family. And then, something happened which etched an impression on my mind that I will never forget. Around 2:00 am I pulled up to a student’s home and the lights were all on. Her mom ran outside to hug and greet her daughter on her return.
The mother said, “Honey, There’s hot coco and cookies on the table. I’ll be there in a minute to talk.”
She turned to me, “Thanks for taking her.”
“I’m surprised you’re up.”
She replied, “You have to be there at the moment of excitement to hear all about it. I figure if I stay up half the night just to listen to my daughter, she’ll realize how important I think she is and how important serving the Lord is.”
As I drove away, I vowed to God that I would be that type of parent for my teenagers. And as a side note, that girl is now in her 30s and is still serving the Lord passionately.
Along with spending time to show and tell kids about daily life with Christ, parents need to set proper priorities. With our mouths we say, “God is first” but is that what we really think and act upon?
The Barna Group conducted a survey entitled, “Parents Describe How they Raise Their Children.” They asked parents what they wanted most for their kids. Christian parents answered “a good education.” In fact, less than half as many Christian parents said that having a relationship with Christ was more important than an education. Indirectly, as well as directly, Christian parents are prioritizing education as a means of succeeding in this life over living for Christ as a means to succeed eternally.This is scary. Parents need change their own mindsets and priorities. Every youth minister knows the reality of this when students constantly miss Bible study for homework assignments. As parents, what we say is not always what we are acting out priority-wise.
Parents must be involved in their students life. As a church we need to stop isolating them from each other. Here’s a few ideas on how to get students and parents interacting:
1) Parenting Classes – This is just the tip of the iceburg. Reading a box about how to change a diaper is not the same thing as changing one – but it’s a start. Our society teaches parents to be scared of teens – if we can educate parents of 5th and 6th graders of the joys to come – we are setting the stage for joyful parent-teen relationship through Jr. High and Highschool. We can also train parents how make Christ number one priority and how to pass that along to their kids.
2) Family Life Group – Instead of age-grouping everyone, why not have a Life Group/Small Group for families? I visited a Family Bible study with a friend who attends a “family church.” It was exciting to see the teens talking freely about the Bible with their peers and their parents. My friends told me that just watching the other parents interact with their teens had helped their family communicate better. The students where comfortable with the adults in the room as well as patient with younger siblings.
3) Quarterly Parent Teen Activities – parties, camp outs, family against family competitions, anything to get the parents and teens interacting and having fun together builds relationships. The students who come without a parent can be attached to a family.
4) Encourage families to sit together in worship instead of teens sitting with their peers. Encourage them to discuss the sermon over Sunday lunch.
If the church is going to survive the 21st Century – we must keep our children from leaving when they graduate. This will only happen when we have committed parents spending time with their teens. Our church can not loose sight to the importance parents have on their kids and must make building family relations a top goal of youth ministry.
Children should come with a warning label:
Caution: this child takes significant amounts of time and energy. Adult supervision is required. Life is PG18.