The Eight P’s of Parenting (Part 7)
The Eight P’s of Parenting (Part 7)
We saw the need for parents to balance praising children with punishing children. Two P’s remain. The next is to protect our children.
We wanted our kids to know how to handle certain dangers. We taught them to swim so that they would be able to rescue themselves if they fell out of a boat or off a dock. We took them to the curb and showed them how to look both ways and safely cross the street. We taught them to ride a bike and drive a car.
But there are other dangers we must keep as far away from our children as possible. No one allows his children to experiment with dynamite, figuring that some children just have to learn for themselves the hard way. There are certain dangers that have no learning curve, that cause sudden, instant, and long-lasting spiritual damage. These things simply must be avoided. The goal is to see to it that they never encounter them.
From years of observation, the top three such things I would put on my list are:
In the eighties, exposure to pornography was quick, scary, and rare; today, the Internet has made pornography available in every space with a smartphone. Faithful Christians struggle with its influence. Michael Medved points out that it’s no more realistic to say, “If you don’t like pornography, turn it off,” than to say, “If you don’t like smog, stop breathing.” A nationwide survey conducted March 8-10, 2000 (twenty years ago!) found that 20% of those who identified themselves as Christians admitted frequenting pornographic sites (“Zogby/Focus Survey Reveals Shocking Internet Sex Statistics.” Legal Facts: Family Research Council. Vol. 2. No. 20. March 30, 2000).
Social media makes it possible for children to receive and respond to sexually exploitative inquiries. In July 2000 (twenty years ago!) The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children found that of youths ages 10-17 who use the Internet, about 20% received an aggressive sexual solicitation (http://www.nationalcoalition.org/stat.html).
Pornography is everywhere, and it has a disastrous effect on families. Fascination with pornography is not cured by getting married. It makes authentic loving relationships difficult, or even abusive. It corrupts the mind and heart. And it can start innocently. A kid types in the word “toys” and may be instantly assaulted with pictures of immorality. According to the Safe America Foundation, 91% of teenagers with Internet access report having unintentionally stumbled upon pornography while studying for school or surfing the web.
How do we protect our kids? Realize that it takes greater effort to protect kids from porn than the effort to obtain it. Make the effort! Delay purchasing phones until high school.
Put filters on devices. Research the most up-to-date filtering and monitoring options. Keep TVs and computers in common areas of the house.
The wrong crowd.
Time and time again, I have seen the most conscientious teaching from faithful Christian parents derailed when kids get wrapped up in the wrong crowd (1 Corinthians 15:33). I firmly believe that a child can be raised as a faithful Christian while in public school (though it’s getting harder!) but he or she needs to live the pilgrim lifestyle in enemy territory. A Christian teen’s best friends should be fellow Christians. Force your kids to go to activities like potlucks and teen devotionals. Spend the money to send them to camp where other faithful teens will be, where materialism, hedonism, evolution will be forcefully contradicted. If things get bad, consider taking away the keys, changing schools, or moving.
I’ve seen teens get caught up in drugs less often than the wrong crowd, but when it happens, it’s even harder to be rescued. The chemicals available on the street and in schools are addictive, dangerous, and ruinous. Smoking, vaping, and drinking are bad enough, but are gateways to harder stuff. These things destroy lives, families, and futures.
Part of the work of a shepherd is protecting the flock (Acts 20:28), and raising children is preparing for shepherding (1 Timothy 3:5). Unashamedly protect your kids from such things!