Parental Control -- the Ultimate Monitor
- Randall Murphree Agape Press
- 2004 15 Jun
June 14, 2004
Author and pollster George Barna is more than your run-of-the-mill political pundit or off-the-cuff cultural commentator. Barna is more accurate. More grounded in fact. More credible. And often more frightening. His observations and commentaries are based on hard data.
Barna founded the Barna Research Group in Ventura, California, in 1984, and ever since, he's been pouring out an endless stream of research that defines the state of the Church in America today.
More frightening? Yes -- if we're serious about absolute truth and moral values based on Scripture. For example, one recent Barna poll reveals that most Christian teenagers see nothing wrong with making illegal copies of CDs for their friends. Another shows that only half of Protestant pastors have a biblical worldview. These two facts are representative of a long list of startling studies available at Barna's website.
George Barna talked recently about his ministry and contemporary moral issues and about parenting. He and his wife, Nancy, take very seriously their responsibility to teach, model and encourage right moral behavior for their daughters, Samantha and Corban. His latest book is Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions (Gospel Light, 2003).
"We've got to train our kids to think on a moral and spiritual level," Barna says. "The schools aren't going to do it, churches aren't going to do it. That's our primary job as parents. When we look at Scripture, it says that responsibility is nobody else's but mine. I chose to have kids, so that's part of my job. You don't want the job? Don't have kids."
The Barnas are home schoolers. It gives them an advantage in what Barna sees as the most critical element in rearing godly children -- relationship. He says a sound and positive relationship between the generations encompasses parental control, authentic faith and on-going dialogue.
"We basically don't watch television," Barna says. "When we do, we watch together as a family. My wife and I pretty much determine what anybody can watch. We will talk to the kids about it afterwards -- What was good about that? What was bad? Was that true? Was that appropriate?"
They allow the girls up to 90 minutes of screen time each day - computer, television or movie screen. Still, everything they choose must be approved first by Mom and Dad.
The Barnas try to model their Christian faith, offering a consistent and real example for their children. "If kids don't see you living out your faith," he says, "they won't take it seriously."
Finally, it is critical for parents to talk with their children -- debate the issues, analyze what's occurring in culture. "You've got to spend a lot of time talking with them about what they're seeing, how they're interpreting it, what's right or wrong and why," Barna says.
Measured against the context of discouraging research findings, Barna might well have become a cynic. But he hasn't. He's still a warrior in the battle to redeem American culture and he hopes to see a biblical worldview gain ground again.
"This whole worldview discussion is so critical," he says. "Most Christians have no idea why any of this stuff [is morally right or wrong.]" Barna's book Think Like Jesus (Integrity Publishers, 2003) is in effect a basic textbook on how to develop a Christian worldview. It covers a full range of moral issues and cites Scriptural principles that establish truth.
Barna says research shows that what a person believes at age 13 is what he pretty much dies believing. So it is critical that parents be moral role models and teachers for their children. "What we know about the younger generation in America today is, if they don't see it, they don't care what you say or what you're asking them to do because you're not real to them."
Randall Murphree, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is editor of AFA Journal, a monthly publication of the American Family Association. This article appeared in the June 2004 issue.
Barna Research Group (http://www.barna.org)
© 2004 Agape Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.