I was in a meeting the other day when the person I was meeting with asked me a huge question. I’m not even sure how that conversation was going but I vividly remember the question. “How do you deal with your kids being confronted with all of these horrible things in this world and what do you do to prepare them?” Well this is a tough question and I have several things to say about it so I decided to write it down so everyone can get an idea of what Alyssa and I do. Now, hear me out, we are not parenting experts by any means. In fact, so many times we both mess up as parents. Guaranteed. Obviously, it’s up to you to decide what is the best way for to go into this with your family.
First of all, each parent needs to recognize that in the schools and in the world there are things happening at an alarming rate. Kids at a younger age are being confronted with sex, way before we were as kids. Kids are finding access to pornography, cheating, gambling, and gaming through the fast and reliable internet we have come to depend on and can’t live without. Kids are much more accessible to others with cell phones and social media. When you come to the realization that your child is getting blasted on a daily basis with horrible things from so many different directions you will be prepared to go to the next step. We cannot cover our eyes to it and just believe it doesn't exist. It does. Instagram, Facebook, hashtags, timelines, sexting, posts, likes, shares, tweets, movies, You-tube, etc. <— That’s the short list.
I would say as well, start when they are young and not in the middle of this firing squad to take a proactive role in their lives. Don’t skip that word… PROACTIVE. Every grade in school your child moves up to, it gets harder for them with what they will have to endure. Start while they are young. Create an open door about talking about what is happening in their lives, and continue until they are living on their own. Is this easy? Hecks to the No! I haven’t had a kid just come and tell me what they are feeling, not ever. When I say proactive, I mean you have to go to them and pursue them. Ask questions but not just about how their day went. Ask the tough questions that you really don’t want to ask. Your kids are being approached with things whether you want to talk about it or not. Take an active role in their lives though approach the tough questions and be a part. Don’t just expect them to take care of it.
When you take a proactive role in your kids’ lives, you will find MANY opportunities to help them through the tough situations. If we just expect our kids to make the right choices they will fail more times then they should have to. I do believe failure helps them to learn but in some of these situations failure can be very destructive in their lives. I also believe that if you don’t take a proactive role in helping them resolve this and just believe your child will do all the right things or is perfect, you are living in a fairytale and need to come back to planet earth. Our children are just as much human as we are! We fail, and have had much more experience in this world, knowing more about what’s right and wrong, yet we still fail.
Every child you have can be presented with different issues that may come up. Whether you are the “perfect” parent or not, each child is presented with choices while you are not around. It says in the word, “Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they grow old they will not depart from it.” What this does NOT mean… just to leave them to their choices. Be proactive. Talk about the tough things so that they know where you stand on these subjects. The older they get they will need eased into these choices. Alyssa and I have a belief that as long as they are our children we will help them to learn. Which means forever…because they won’t EVER stop being our children. Of course, we are hoping we won’t always be holding their hands in parking lots, reminding them to look both ways when crossing the street or washing their faces after dinner. At some point, they have to stand on their own two feet.
Help them to understand what they will be faced with in their future. You will have to do your very best be a step ahead of them at all times. This means find out about social media if you don’t understand it. LEARN. Find out about the new words kids are saying to cover up from their parents. GOOGLE if you have to. Find out about what these new fangled cellular devices are capable of before you just hand it over. SET BOUNDARIES. You have to be a constant learner and you can’t just sit back and hope they are deciding correctly. HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE. Understand what they are dealing with. So. Much. Pressure. If you don’t truly understand it, you will never be able to teach to it. Take a proactive role in understanding.
When you truly understand the things they have access too, you can then teach to it. Help them to draw lines in the sand on what you as a team together feel is appropriate. Help them to create margin in their lives so that they aren’t so close to the cliff of destruction that one mistake pushes them over. Help them to see that setting boundaries for themselves is healthy and good for them long term. When they do cross the line, hold them to the standards that have been set. Implement corrective action. Talk it through.
It doesn’t end there though. Check up on them and continue the conversation. This has to be a constant and consistent thing you do together. As you check up on one thing, you may have to start the process with another thing. I know it kind of sounds like work, this parenting thing. It is. It’s hard and thankless but if we were called by God to care for our children and to train them in the way they should go, then we should start taking this very seriously.
Don’t give up and don’t surrender! You can do it! If you haven’t been proactive as of yet in your kids’ lives it is never too late to get started. If you have breath then you have the ability to do so. I have to fight this on a daily basis. I lead a very stressful life that can be very busy. Sometimes it is not easy to sit down and talk about the tough things. Sometimes I just want to put it off a little longer. I’ve come to realize, I only have so much time with my kids. I want to be a better influence and father, so I have to push through. So many times I fail, as we all do, but we have to push through for the sake of our children. Stand with me and take a proactive role for our kids.