Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

“My parents don’t love me” is one of the most commonly believed lies among the teens my team and I minister to every year at our Culture Shock teen program. I have ministered to thousands of teens all over the world, and I am amazed by the absurd lies the enemy has caused these young people to believe about themselves, their parents, and God. 

In the Culture Shock program, we give each teen a 3 x 5 index card and ask them to write down three lies they have believed and are now able to identify after going through our sessions. You can imagine the relief they feel after exposing lies they have allowed to shape and influence them for so long. What these young people write down has driven me into a kind of crusade to find out where these lies come from, how we can stop them, and what to do if teens have already started to believe them.

So what kind of lies are we talking about here? First of all, the enemy knows that if he can get them to forget who they are in Christ, then he can get them to do things no self-respecting child of God would ever do. So he tells them things like this: “God doesn’t care about you. Your parents love your brother or sister more than you. Because no one cares about you, the only way to find love is in the arms of another.” The enemy is at work full-time, using every medium he can in his effort to deceive our kids, and it doesn’t matter if the teens are homeschooled, private schooled, public schooled, or even graduated. 

My research—done through my own teen ministry, current studies, and experience with my family—has brought me to the conclusion that teens desperately need the guidance of their parents. More than a really relevant youth group or the latest Bible study to hit the market, they need Mom and Dad to stand in the gap for them and connect with them over all the issues our mixed-up, demoralizing culture is throwing their way. It’s you, their parents, who are with them in the daily battles they will face. 

In many ways, our kids are facing a battle for their purity that no other generation has encountered. Even homeschooling in and of itself doesn’t protect them from this fight for their purity and integrity. The walls of safety and security we’ve constructed in our homes aren’t enough to keep the world at bay and stop it from affecting the choices our teens make. 

Most of us parents have been told “you just don’t understand” at least once. And sadly, this is partly true. After all, while there are similarities, our upbringing compared to that of our children is immensely different. The very society they were born into has changed dramatically. As an example, cell phones have been popular only since the mid 90s—right around the time our teens were born. I know better than to mention a pay phone—or worse, a record player—to my 14- and 17-year-olds. The looks of confusion, coupled with the utter disbelief that I actually used those things, are enough to keep me away from those subjects entirely. As parents we are immigrants in this technological world . . . but our children are natives. 

Yet, in spite of the differences, I’m convinced it’s possible to stay connected with my teens. I believe that we as parents can absolutely be the authorities, guides, and mentors that God has asked us to be for them. After years of working with teens from all across the globe, I’ve come up with two key areas I believe play leading roles in their lives and the direction they ultimately take—and where they need guidance most: (1) technology and (2) guy/girl relationships. 

Technology

Technology is first because it has the potential to impact nearly every area of your teen’s life. How? It’s already in your home. You can always leave the friends and relationships on your doorstep, but not technology.

Technology—the Internet, cell phones, you name it—is here to stay. It’s imperative that our kids know how to use these tools wisely. I love the verse in Matthew that says “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) We need to be teaching our teens how to use technology with wisdom, and we need to teach them this using the same method. 

Ronald Reagan said it best: “Trust, but verify.” Do you have filtering software? How can you verify that your son or daughter really did shut down the computer at 7 p.m. and not 10 p.m.? Do your teenagers own smartphones that enable them to browse the Internet when you’re not around? With whom are they emailing, chatting, and texting? When was the last time you logged into their Facebook account? Check in and verify, I recommend, on a daily basis. And furthermore: Don’t feel pressured to allow your teens to always get the latest gadget. It’s okay to say no! 

If technology is not your strongest point, here’s a tip that I’ve found to be very helpful: find a college student (even if you have to pay them) to help you navigate the minefields of technology. Successful immigration into the world of our teens’ technology is worth the time, energy, and sometimes the trouble it takes to keep up with it. Don’t ever get discouraged!

Relationships

Guy/girl relationships is one of the number-one subjects on the minds of teens. And why wouldn’t it be? Even if they aren’t thinking about this all on their own, it’s the number-one topic of nearly everything targeted to their age group, whether it be books, movies, websites, friends, or music. 

We need to give our teens a vision about relationships and communicate that those relationships are awesome in God’s timing. A love relationship crafted by God will blow a Hollywood love story right out of the water. Nothing can compete with the Creator of the universe, and if we help our young people realize this, they will understand that God’s ways are worth sacrificing for. I do this with my children by talking to them—regularly—about this awesome love story God has in mind for them. Whether our kids get married or not, the point is that God does have a love story for them. It might be with Him exclusively, and it might include a spouse, and either way it is going to be awesome. I also make it a point to discuss stories they’ve read or movies they’ve seen with love stories in them. How did the author or producer portray a particular romance? Were there any lies about relationships perpetuated by the story? If so, what are they?

Our teens need to know that true contentment, worth, and identity come from Christ alone. We need to teach our teens to forsake the lie the culture tells them that true happiness can only be found in a relationship, or that who you are really depends on who you are dating at the time. Not only do we need to show them how to pursue God for their identity, but we also need to communicate that they can’t establish a loving, genuine romantic relationship with another person until they get it right with the Author and Creator of love first.

How often is it necessary to talk to our teens about relationships and sex? Simply put, more often and more effectively than our culture does. Teens need to know that it’s safe to talk to Mom and Dad about the things they are bombarded with on a daily basis. What our teens need most of all—more than quality time at the mall, more than the latest iPod or cell phone, even more than your “Good job!” response to their school project—is the assurance that they can come to you with the things that concern them. We also need to clearly express expectations and define acceptable behavior long before our kids actually encounter complicated situations with the opposite sex. 

The guy/girl equation looks different for every family. There is no cookie cutter guide. We need to be willing to seek God about how our family should respond to each situation and continue to seek Him as our kids mature and reach an age when they can pursue relationships. 

Your sons and daughters need you to speak to their hearts more sincerely and effectively than the culture does. They need you to come alongside them, guiding, encouraging, and protecting at every turn.

Are you going to stand with your kids as they deal with culture shock?

Julie Hiramine is the founder of the ministry Generations of Virtue, which equips parents to empower their children for purity in our world today. As an internationally noted speaker, author, and Christian leader, Julie has encouraged and impacted parents and teens around the world through her speaking and written materials. Julie and her husband, Kay, live in Colorado Springs and homeschool their five children. 

Publication date: August 1, 2012