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Monday, 1 June 2015

Raising Teenagers

Western Youth Culture is Pagan Culture

You don't need to be a prophet to recognise that the culture of our teenagers today is basically a pagan culture - pre-Biblical and post-Christian. Little of the Gospel - doctrine or practise - filters through the web to their smartphones or laptops.

This makes the task of raising our teenagers in the ways of the Lord all the more urgent and demanding.

The unique challenges of the age of youth
The particular challenges of youth, according to the Scriptures, are threefold. First, young people have the bodies and growing minds of adults without any of the experience of adults. The young prodigal runs off with half his father's wealth (Luke 15) but without the wisdom that comes with experience wastes it all.

Second, youth is a time when God can so easily be forgotten, because life is filled with so many new and exciting experiences (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Third there are particular evil desires that inflict young people more than older people (2 Tim 2:22) - and these go further than sexual temptation and include vanity and zealousness - Saul was a zealot in his youth (Acts 7:58) -  what church has not experienced a young zealot going off the rails in their midst?

Youth, on the other hand, can be a time of great spiritual usefulness and growth. Samuel led God's people from his youth (1 Sam 12:2), David killed Goliath in his youth (1 Samuel 17) and Daniel plus his three friends stood up for the Lord in their youth (Daniel 1-3). Youth need not be a time of wastefulness and wandering - but it so easily can be.

So how should we guide our young people?
We ought to pray for them - and for ourselves so that we might be granted wisdom to bring them up wisely.

We ought to be patient with them, knowing the enormous changes taking place in their lives, not exasperating them (Eph 6:4), picking our battles and allowing many lesser things to pass by.

We ought to talk to them about God, since they so easily forget him in this season of life, but now seeking more creative ways to speak of him, such as those encouraged in Deuteronomy 6.

We ought to love them unconditionally, like the prodigal's father, who waits every morning for his son's return. Love must involve commending them for the good they do.

We must talk to them explicitly about gangs and sex and so on - if we don't talk explicit, we can be sure someone else will - and that someone will likely be the pagan WWW. Every Christian parent ought to make a detailed study of Proverbs 1-7 and there learn how to talk to their teenager. We have the experience they don't have, and we have an obligation to pass it on.

Finally, they need to be taught about and protected from the real dangers on the internet. Parents need to wake up to the wickedness freely available online - before their "dear pure child" is potentially polluted and corrupted by the world.

Some internet guidelines
Here are some guidelines to protect your child from the dangers online:
  1. talk openly about these dangers
  2. only have an ISP which will block evil at source - and then block it
  3. have accountability software on ALL devices - especially smartphones (Windows phones don't do accountability software well, so go for Android or Apple). "Accountable2you" and "Covenant Eyes" are two companies that will serve you well
  4. Install Google safesearch across all your browsers
Parents must do this first for themselves, of course, and then - and only then - can exhort their children to follow suit.

What we do in our home - one example

We have used Talktalk's Homesafe since it came out years ago - it stops evil at source

We use "Accountable2You" software which gives a report on all websites viewed with a simple colour coding system (red, orange)

We use Google safesearch which blocks any remaining images or websites:

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