Thursday, March 7, 2013

Parenting Tweens and Teens in a Sin-soaked Culture

He was never much of a snuggler, my Peter. At 9 months old he learned to toddle. My lap and arms were no longer a major attraction; he lived to explore, loving the outdoors most of all.

Years went by, my heart struggling to remember his brief babyhood. He would sit next to me while I read to him, all these years, but snuggling held no interest for him.

Who knew that at age 11 things would change?

My boy now needs to snuggle. This was the last thing I imagined happening, but the Holy Spirit quickly prepared me.

Don't pull away, deeming him too old for parental affection...doing so is dangerous.

I remember hugging the few guys who took me on dates in my twenties. They walked me to my door afterwards and if I thought they were sweet, I hugged them...not because I wanted anything to happen, but because I was starved for affection. Absolutely starved.

Tweens and teens are starved for affection too. They've grown to need it, even if they didn't as youngsters. The problem is that right about this time, parents tend to withdraw physically from their maturing children. It suddenly feels strange to hug them, tall as they are.

11-year-old Peter is only 5 inches shorter than me. Eighteen months from now I fully expect to look up at him.

What then? Do I still snuggle with him, letting him lean against me as I read? Do I walk up and hug him spontaneously?

You bet.

Our children have the fight of their lives, growing up in this sin-soaked culture. Let's not make it harder than it has to be by pulling away, either physically or emotionally.

Aggressive girls, clueless boys, by Dennis Rainey of Family Life?

 Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys: 7 Conversations You Must Have with Your Son [and 7 Questions to Ask Your Daughter]  -     
        By: Dennis Rainey

It arrived in the mail today and I'm already on page 35. I'm scared by what lurks out there for my son.

The book begins:

It was just a routine check. When Susan and Tom gave thirteen-year-old Josh his first cell phone, they told him they would occasionally look through his text messages. But Susan was completely unprepared for what she found that Saturday morning.

She waded through a couple hundred short, inane messages, more than slightly confused by the shorthand that kids use when texting. She was struck by the fact that Josh and his friends seemed to text each other more than they actually talked. And then something different popped up. There was no confusion about this message: "If you could have s*x with me, would you?" Aggressive girls, clueless boys, pg. 3

Later in the chapter, Dennis Rainey takes the reader back to Susan's and Tom's situation.

Tom and Susan, the parents in the story at the beginning of this chapter, found themselves dropped in the middle of a minefield. Their son, Josh, had never even been on a date, so they were shocked to find that he had become sexually active. When they met with Josh and told him that they knew what was going on, he tried to deny the extent of his involvement. But the evidence was clear, and he finally admitted what he had done.

Tom and Susan immediately took away Josh's cell phone, shut down his Facebook page, and grounded him from going out with friends for a period of time. They made sure he kept busy with school and sports, so that he wouldn't have idle time. And they moved him out of his downstairs bedroom into a room upstairs with his little brother.

The wounds were still fresh when Susan related the story. "Josh knows this isn't what God wants for him." But the future seems unclear. How do you restore a child to a path of purity after he's already lost his age thirteen? They are praying that God will use the experience for good in Josh's life.

"I wish we had known these things were going on," Susan said. "I wish we would have been more prepared."

My heart aches for this couple and I know one thing for sure. I don't want to be in their shoes...ever

My four children were a gift to me and I will not let them down. I will not be busy with other things while they make big mistakes. I will not give them a cell phone, or a computer in their room, or any other access to unsupervised Internet. They will meet with their friends in our home, or in the homes of other kindred-spirit Christians with whom we have frequent, trusting contact.

Reading the Bible, having discussions? Buying Family Life's Passport 2 Purity?

Passport2Purity® Getaway Kit - Version 3

They are not enough. We need to parent our tweens and teens as carefully as we parented our into-everything toddlers. There's nothing wrong with firm, safe boundaries. There's nothing wrong with giving up our time, to invest in our children's hearts.

Dear Lord, let me never say these words..."I wish I had known theses things were going on. I wish we had been more prepared."

Prepare us, Lord. Prepare us to shape their hearts and escort them into maturity. May we lead them to the Cross, to Your strength, as they battle against a sin-soaked, distracted culture. 

In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

1 comment:

Vicki said...

amen! I'm going to order this book. My son is 9 and I'm so worried about these issues. Thanks for sharing this!