For Parents Only: Rebel with a Cause - Part 2
- Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Some time later, her daughter was contacted by someone who seemed threatening. When she approached Vicki to talk about it, the first thing she said was, "Uh, Mom, remember when you said you wouldn't take my Internet away?"
As Vicki told us, "We have the freedom to discuss these things now because my kids know I'm not going to ban the Internet because of something they couldn't help, or because they made a mistake."
And since gaining freedom is a huge incentive, you might want to help your child realize that he'll have more freedom if he shows he can handle it—and that purposeful deception is the quickest way to lose it.
4. Equip them to cope wisely with their growing freedoms.
We've seen that seven out of ten kids will do what they want to do, no matter what we say. Even the fear of their parents' finding out doesn't compel them to stop their behavior, only to hide it. (Scary!) So we need to help our teens want to do the right things and not want the wrong ones. Beyond consistent, fervent prayer—which we advocate wholeheartedly—here are a few suggestions for pointing them in the right direction.
Help your kids learn to think through their decisions—and see where they might have been wrong.
As we'll detail in another chapter, the kids said they have to understand the reasons for the rules—embracing the rules for themselves and not thinking of them as being externally imposed. In addition, since the frontal lobe of your child's brain is probably underdeveloped, she may need you to act as an "external frontal lobe" to help her think through consequences. ("If you go to the mall, what does that mean for how much time you'll have to do your homework?") Similarly, your child could easily be deluding herself about whether a choice she already made was actually a bad one or whether it involved deception.
Although it may seem that she should already know what's right, give her some guidance anyway. Even mature teenagers may need an adult's help from time to time to look back on a given choice and recognize where their train of thought derailed. The kids suggested asking good questions ("Did you think of which kids might turn up at the party?") instead of giving a lecture, so that your child can work through the issue and draw a conclusion for herself.
This may also be why so many kids urged parents to let their kids learn on their own, even through their mistakes. One boy said his father often says to him, "It's your decision whether it's wise to go. I will allow it, but if you get in trouble, you will have to pay your own consequences."
Help them move from fearing parents to fearing God.
On the survey, we were surprised that fully six in ten kids said they consider whether God sees everything they do when they're tempted to do something that might be wrong. And among those God-aware kids, six in ten also said that the fact that God might be disappointed in them was a bigger influence than whether their parents would be disappointed. Parents can help such kids transition from fear of Mom and Dad to fear of God.
I (Lisa) saw this principle in action when I overheard my kids asking their dad if they could do something, and he answered, "You know your mom wouldn't like that!" Without looking up, I casually answered, "Oh, it's not about me. I'm not the ultimate One they have to answer to in the end. They'll have to talk to God about their choices." Later that night I was amazed when two of the girls separately came to me, saying that they felt God was urging them to be careful about certain friends and activities. His view of their actions had a far greater effect on them than I realized.
As we watch our cherished no-longer-little ones begin the process of flying free, what a comfort it is to entrust them to the One who made them and to know that he holds them securely in his hands.
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