Thinking Biblically is Teens' Only Protection Against Media
- Thursday, July 08, 2004
Editor's Note: Taken from Ten Steps to Talk to Your Children About Values. Full text version available at www.almenconi.com/topics/parent/tensteps.html.
A very shy, young man about 16 years old approached our display table where we had books and Christian music CDs for sale. When my assistant asked what kind of music he enjoyed, he meekly responded, "Whatever my mother wants." He wasn't kidding! Here was a young man who looked old enough to drive, but he didn't have an opinion that differed from his mother's. It's tempting to think, how wonderful that is today! A teen whose opinions were still in submission to his mother! On the other hand, I thought, this was a kid who still didn't know how to have an opinion of his own.
Later, at the same convention, a mother asked me for Scriptures to make her 17-year-old son stop wearing baggy pants! Styles and clothes aren't my area of expertise, so I wasn't about to get into that battle. But I was thinking, "At what age was she going to let her son dress himself?"
Here were two parents who thought they were doing the right thing for their children by trying to make all their decisions for them. If they don't tell their children what to think, God only knows what they will think, right?
Research indicates that the majority of young people raised in Christian homes will not live for Jesus as adults. How can this be? I believe there are two major reasons. First, Christians have a tendency to tell their children what to think instead of teaching them how to think. Second, the entertainment media tends to undermine nearly every Christian value we hold dear.
We are in a spiritual battle for the souls of our children. The entertainment industry aims its weapons at the heart and soul of our families. We shouldn't be surprised that so many young people are entertaining themselves to spiritual death.
The primary strategy for many Christian parents is to shelter their children from all worldly media. But this is no longer possible in a media-saturated America.
Concerned parents often ask me how I handled this battle with my children. For one thing, I tried to never fight with my daughters about their entertainment. After my wife and I set our family guidelines, I allowed my daughters to listen to any song, go to any movie/video, and play any video game as long as it was within the family guidelines. I didn't see it as my responsibility to keep the bad stuff out of our home. It was their responsibility to prove to me that what they watched and listened to was worthwhile to be in our house.
Our family developed a simple 10-step plan to teach our children how to think Biblically. You can do the same.
1. Start on your knees -- Pray diligently for your children for the next 30 days. If you are praying two minutes a day, may I suggest you pray five minutes? If you pray ten minutes, may I suggest 20? Pray specifically that they remain spiritually strong and morally pure. Ask God to surround them with godly friends and to help them make entertainment choices that will encourage spiritual growth. A good rule of thumb is if you are spending more time confronting your children than you are coming to the Throne of God about your children, your priorities need adjusting.
2. Establish your limits -- While you are praying for your children over the next 30 days, discuss with your spouse suitable entertainment limits for your home. Decide how much of the enemy's influence you are willing to accept in your home through TV, videos, computer games and the Internet. Your goal is to give your child a sense of security through a consistent understanding of what is acceptable in your home.
3. Evaluate your own entertainment -- It is not helpful to keep your child from listening to the empty philosophies of most secular music and television programs, if you're going to entertain yourself with R-rated videos. Make sure your own entertainment fits within the guidelines you are setting for your children. Don't say one thing and do another. You might not see the hypocrisy of your actions, but your children and God do.
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