The Need for Involvment
- Dennis Rainey Executive Director of FamilyLife Ministries
- 2002 6 Oct
It was 11:00 P.M., and I was "history." It had been a particularly stress-filled day. I could hear the sheets on my bed calling me, and all I wanted to do was to lie down and let them grab me.
The only problem was that our 16-year-old son, Benjamin, was sprawled across the foot of our bed. He wanted to talk.
I'm not a perfect father, but I do try to learn from my previous errors. And I have learned that when a teenager wants to talk, you'd better seize the moment-even when you're semi-comatose!
I leaned forward on my side, looked Benjamin in the eye, and said, "What's up?"
Benjamin proceeded to give me an unbelievable description of a seminar he'd attended on how to counsel his peers about preventing AIDS. He had been selected by his school counselors to be one of six students to represent his high school for the seminar, sponsored by a well-known organization. This conservative organization's official position is that "abstinence" is the best prevention for AIDS. So Barbara and I had signed the parental release form.
At the seminar, five boring minutes were given to abstinence. These adult "educators" all but told the kids, "Hey, we know you don't have any character. We know you can't control yourselves. So here's how you can do it creatively and 'safely.'"
Now, they didn't use these exact words, but they might as well have. What followed was 60 scintillating, titillating and descriptive minutes devoted to creative "safe sex." It was the most graphic public description and explanation of heterosexual and homosexual sex that I have ever heard.
By the time my son had finished sharing and showing me all the material he had been given, I was fully awake. And angry.
I also was faced with a choice. There were a lot of things going on in my life at the time--a lot of responsibilities and a lot of problems to solve. This was the last thing I wanted to worry about.
But this was my child. Was I going to let it pass, or was I going to get involved?
Benjamin's revelation was not the end of my surprise. The next day I called the school to object, and I learned no other parents had called. So I called one of the parents and asked if his daughter had said anything about the seminar. He said they hadn't talked about it at all.
I then proceeded to tell him some of what she had learned. "I can't believe they shared explicit, perverted material like that with our kids," he said. "It really is sick."
When I asked if he was interested in doing anything about it, his response stunned me: "No, I really don't want to talk to her about this. And, no, I don't want to do anything about it in our community!"
What disturbed me most was that he did not even want to talk to his own daughter about what she had heard in the seminar. In other words, he wasn't willing to get involved in one of the most crucial issues of his daughter's life.
More than anything, your children want you to be involved in their lives. They need more than your time; they need your attention.
It's not just showing up at soccer games with a cellular phone in your pocket. They need your heart knitted to theirs as they make their choices and hammer out their convictions. They need you to help them think about the clothing they wear, the types of people they date and the peer pressure they face.
In order to be a parent worthy of honor you can't just "be there" as much as possible, you have to "be all there."
That's a special challenge for us fathers. Too many of us are too consumed with our careers, preoccupied with our "toys" and hobbies.
Real men with real character act; they take responsibility head on. They may not do it perfectly, but they tackle issues and battlefronts courageously.
Excerpted from Moments Together for Couples by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Used with permission. Copyright 1995 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. All rights reserved.
About the author: Dennis Rainey is the executive director of FamilyLife, an organization founded in 1976 with the goal of effectively developing godly families, one home at a time. Parents of six children, Dennis and his wife, Barbara, have written numerous books, including best-sellers Moments Together for Couples and The Questions Book for Marriage Intimacy.