With the barrage of bad news in the country right now, it’s easy for parents to feel increasingly frightened. Many have told me over the past months that they feel like giving up. Raising kids—especially teens—in a world filled with violence, sexual imagery everywhere, and stories about kids taking meth can just about put a parent over the edge. We seem to do pretty well until our kids hit age 8. Then, the fear begins to settle in, and we start to feel the loss of control over their lives. Our daughters refuse to wear cute dresses. Our sons don’t want trucks; they want video games. Their friends invite them for the afternoon and a parent pops in a PG-13 movie for them to watch. Bad stuff streams at our kids all the time.
When our kids hit the teen years, we hear about sex, drugs, and alcohol. Deep down, we think that there’s really nothing we can do about these things. We believe that our kids are going to do what they want, and we should simply pray for them to get through those tough years relatively unscathed. Fear takes over and causes us to think like crazy people.
So let me give you a hefty dose of reality so that, hopefully, you can bat some of that paralyzing fear from your mind:
» First, you win. All of the great research shows that it is parents—not television, movies, actors, professional athletes, musicians, or even friends—who hold the most profound influence over their children. That means that yes, your son or daughter will be exposed to a whole lot of bad stuff, and yes, that will have an influence. But, none will compare with the influence you have. The reason is simple. Your kids are connected to you by a need-based love, which has been there from the beginning of their lives. They need you to love them. Therefore, they will do whatever it takes to get that love. This need drives their behavior. Since they don’t need the approval or love from other adults (even if they’re on a movie screen), these folks hold very little long-term power.
Certainly, your teen’s behavior may not look like he needs you, but he does. When kids are teens, they may act out and distance themselves from you. Remember that when they do, they do so not because of what you are doing (or not doing); rather, they do this because they are uncomfortable with themselves. In other words, their peculiar behavior usually isn’t about you; it’s about them.
»Second, you are there for the long haul; other people aren’t.Influences in your kids’ lives through media, peers, teachers, or music may impact them in the short term, but you are present when those influences wane. Your son may disagree with you for a while (even years), but he will eventually come to see that perhaps you were right after all. Again, he wants to stay connected to you because he wants your respect, love, and admiration. And your daughter? She will want to stay connected because there are two spots in her heart, which can only be filled by two people: one for Mom and another for Dad.
So don’t lose heart. Don’t let dark and ugly influences in your son’s or daughter’s life make you throw up your hands. No one—and I mean no one—compares to you in their lives.
:: IMPORTANT NOTES ::
I’m pleased to let you know that I’m now featured at Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk site. I’d love it if you’d check out my articles there and share them via social media. In my latest post, Why We Parents Need a Little Hammering, I discuss how to parent from faith, not fear.
Tomorrow, April 26, 2013, I have a radio interview with Dr. Dobson scheduled to air. It’s the first of a series of programs about the availability of Plan B, entitled “Protecting Your Child’s Sexuality.”