Help Your Kids Thrive in the Postmodern Culture
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2008 3 Nov
Young people in the postmodern culture your kids are growing up in approach truth in completely different ways from the culture you knew as a child. It’s crucial to understand that culture so you can help your kids live out their faith successfully within it.
Here’s how you can help your kids thrive in the postmodern culture:
Get to know the postmodern worldview. People with a postmodern worldview don’t just accept facts and logic at face value; they ask lots of questions. They view truth as subjective rather than objective, and believe that perspective determines much of reality. They highly value community and authenticity. They often use stories to discover more about the world. Some reinterpret Scripture or discount its validity to their lives. They don’t usually come to faith through rational decisions; they grow their relationships with others.
Teach your kids to focus on Jesus above all else. Let your kids know that, even though postmodernism says that life is all about them, it’s really all about Jesus. Help them grasp the glory of obedience to Jesus, regardless of what the world around them may say.
Help your kids fully engage with the world. Don’t let fear of the world’s evils hold you back from answering Jesus’ call to send your kids out into it as light in the darkness. Your kids’ faith can grow stronger if they learn how to discern sin, love the sinner, resist temptation, and represent Jesus to everyone they encounter.
Share conversations with your kids. Help your kids learn how to discuss whatever is on their minds. Invite them to talk with you about all kinds of topics at all times and in all situations. Determine to use kind and encouraging words with them. Take the time to listen carefully to them. Model what openness looks like so your children can open up to you. Talk openly with them about your thoughts and feelings (in age-appropriate ways), so they’ll feel safe to share their own thoughts and feelings. Whenever your words cause a breach in your relationships with your kids, ask them to forgive you, and you’ll rebuild crucial trust. Make sure your conversations are purposeful – intentionally focused on your children and on something you hope to discuss together.
Carve out small blocks of time to spend together talking throughout each day, like while driving, during meals, and before bed. Encourage your kids to ask you hard questions and not hesitate to express their doubts and fears to you as you seek God together. Speckle your conversations with both grace and truth. Never downplay their concerns or mock or ignore their opinions. Respect their thoughts and feelings, and help them learn to process them well and listen to others’ perspectives too.
See your kids as windows. Allow your children to become the windows through which you see and experience God. Value your kids’ intrinsic worth, realizing that when you welcome them, you’re actually welcoming Jesus into your life. Invite God to use your kids to shape you and teach you important lessons like slowing down, seeking and finding Him, and trading seriousness for playfulness. Through your children, you can see yourself and where you are in your relationship with Jesus. Ask God to help you notice the ways He is working through your kids. Regularly ask yourself how your children have helped you grow closer to Jesus lately.
Make your home a haven. Create an environment in your home that helps you connect your kids to God and to you. Let your home serve as a sanctuary from life’s storms – a place your kids want to come home to and bring their friends. Make your home a place where your children can be completely themselves and express all of their emotions. Assure your kids that you love them regardless of what they do or say. Speak kind words often in your home. Welcome your children’s hard questions. Be there for your kids at home as often as possible.
Limit TV shows, movies, and Internet sites that you allow your kids to access in your home, taking care to protect them from unhealthy content such as the kind that glorifies violence or sexual perversion. Encourage your kids to play outside often. Cry alongside your kids when they’re sad, and rejoice with them when they’re celebrating something. Give them time to be carefree and make happy childhood memories. Read to them often. Laugh with them. Teach them how to discover God’s presence in the mundane, such as when they’re doing household chores.
Embrace the arts. Help your kids appreciate and participate in the arts, which is vital to engaging with postmodern people. Encourage them to discover and develop their talents, and use them in creative ways. Use art to respond to the Scripture you read together. Visit art museums. Go outside to notice God’s creativity displayed in nature. Read, imagine, and tell stories together. Make art journals. Attend cultural events, like art, music, or food exhibitions. Listen to different styles of music together. Have an open mind about trying new things so you can all learn something new as a family.
Coach your kids. If you have older kids, start moving from directing and showing them what to do to coaching them to make their own decisions and mistakes. Speak less and listen more to your children as they work through the decision making process. Let go of control and empower them to learn how to think for themselves and take responsibility for their own lives.
When your kids make mistakes, let them experience the consequences, reminding yourself that painful experiences are valuable opportunities for them to grow stronger character. When your kids succeed, rejoice with them. Have your kids set goals, and remind them of those goals without nagging. Ask thoughtful questions that help your kids determine what next steps would be wise. Cheer for your children to give them confidence, letting them know that you believe in them no matter what. Instead of trying to win battles for your kids, equip your kids to win battles for themselves.
Refresh yourself. You must be refreshed spiritually yourself in order to encourage your kids; you can’t pour life into them when you’re empty. Slow down your pace so you can hear God’s quiet voice regularly. Ask Jesus to give you His peace so you can model a peaceful, abundant life to your kids. Nail your stress to the cross regularly, trusting Jesus to help you without whatever concerns you. Stop condemning yourself for not being perfect, and start relying on God’s grace.
Be authentic. Honestly share your thoughts and feelings with your kids and others, but be careful not to indiscriminately spew out whatever pops into your mind. Ask God to give you the wisdom, humility, and courage you need to be open with your family in appropriate ways. Don’t worry about projecting a certain image as a parent. Instead, focus on genuinely connecting with your kids.
Constantly ask yourself: “Am I living for my own reputation or the reputation of Jesus Christ?” Ask God to help you make sure that what you do and say on the outside matches what’s truly going on inside your soul. Admit your weaknesses, failures, and mistakes, and let your kids see how much you need God. Forge accountability relationships with your children by sharing your problems and sinful patterns with them and letting them see you move closer to God through His grace.
Teach your kids to appreciate the Bible fully. Help your kids discover the Bible’s awesome and mysterious message for themselves. Don’t present it as self-help book filled with moral principles; the Bible is much more than that. Show your kids that the Bible is an exciting, living story about God’s relationships with people. Encourage your kids to read the Bible’s raw stories of people who were both heroic and flawed.
Don’t sentimentalize the Bible or shy away from its harsh and difficult passages. Urge your kids to dig into Scripture deeply, and respond to it creatively in their lives. Wrestle together with hard questions the Bible brings up; doing so will equip your kids to handle situations where people in the culture question their beliefs. Discuss what beliefs are essential to the faith (such as Jesus’ virgin birth and death on the Cross for people’s sins) and what beliefs are just peripheral issues (like whether or not people should drink alcohol). Teach your kids to defend their core beliefs in thoughtful ways, while extending grace and charity to those who don’t agree with their beliefs on peripheral issues.
Value community. Be willing to enter the messiness of relationships and build community so your kids can build the skills they’ll need to engage others in the postmodern culture. Remember that people with postmodern worldviews are highly focused on community. Welcome and love people who are different from you. Expose your kids to non-Christians and difficult people. Teach your kids to engage people who are living in sin, and to act as change agents who influence sinful people for the better. Help your kids learn how to exist in harmony with other family members, so they can use their relationship skills to be peacemakers in the world. Find a good church and fully participate together in its community.
Expand God’s kingdom. Remember that, wherever you live, the mission field is right outside your front door. Help your kids expand God’s kingdom by spreading His Gospel message through their lives. Impart a kingdom mindset through example. Don’t just proclaim the Gospel; do your best to live out its principles every day to model a faithful life for your kids. Reject materialism and teach your kids that there’s more to life than things and money.
Make service a priority for your family. Live a lifestyle of contribution (working to make the world a better place) rather than consumption (seeing what you can get for yourselves). Be aware of the spiritual warfare at work in your family’s life and pray for and with your kids often.
Offer your lives to God out of gratitude. Teach your kids that life is a gift. Instill gratefulness in them and encourage them to express their thankfulness often to God. Show them what it looks like to offer your life to God out of gratitude, and urge them to do so themselves. When your kids dare to thank God in the midst of life’s messes, people in the postmodern culture will be drawn to God through them.
Adapted from Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, copyright 2007 by Mary E. DeMuth. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or., www.harvesthousepublishers.com.
Mary E. DeMuth is a speaker, novelist, and the author of Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God and Building the Christian Family You Never Had. Mary, her husband Patrick, and their three children helped pioneer a church in southern France.