Popularity or Purity? Help the Children Choose
Many teens living on the wrong side of morality are not from the stereotypical fatherless, abusive, or drug-infested home.
Reporting on the ABC Documentary (2009) Teen: Oral Sex and Casual Prostitution No Biggie, Sharlene Azam said, “The girls are almost always from good homes, but their parents are completely unaware."
Open communication . . .
The emotional needs of the teens can drive them into inappropriate actions:
- Some teens reject the love and security of family to pursue the approval of their peers.
- Some choose offers of gifts and money in exchange for acceptance.
- Some leave home ambitious to begin their search for fame and fortune.
- Rather than give up the quest for their desired success, some make the ultimate sacrifice of self (even if it violates personal convictions).
Without a sense of purpose and a commitment to positive life principles, the pressure to be popular or prosperous at any cost could be overwhelming. What can parents do to influence children’s decision before and after they leave home?
Here are six proposals for consideration.
(1) Explain Your Habits
Parents cannot take it for granted that children will interpret their moral actions correctly. Communicate the “why” of what you do.
- Why do you choose to watch some movies and not others? Do you choose based on your preference for the actors or on the type of language they use?
- Why do you prefer certain fashion over others? Do you choose based on your budget or on your sense of modesty?
- Why do you not use curse words or watch porn? What principles do cursing and porn violate?.
If there is anything more important than modeling the purity principles in your home, it is explaining your reason. They have to understand a principle in order to adopt it. Besides, explaining the reasons for your action can be a subtle way to teach without lecturing. And the more conversation you have with your teens, the more memories will surface when they are bombarded with opposite views.
One Can Make A Difference
(2) Emphasize Personal Significance
Teach the children early that individuality is an asset; that although team spirit is necessary, personal worth matters to team success (as in a family venture, in sports activities, in classroom projects). Make them aware that even when other team members shirk responsibility, it is important for their character growth that they keep up their end.
Introduce them to the "power of one" in biographies of people who have made a difference: like the story of the female astronaut in Sally Ride: The First American Woman in Space; or the story of the neurosurgeon in Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story; or the inspirational stories of many others in 50 American Heroes Every Kid Should Meet.
Stress the importance of making a difference over the recognition that comes after.
(3) Encourage Selective Associations
Your intention is not to give your teen the impression that he or she is better than others, but to to teach the importance of choice in friendships.
- Encourage your teen to be civil towards other teens who are disrespectful, manipulative and abusive, but to avoid becoming buddies with them. Teach them zero tolerance for bullying.
- Encourage them to choose friends who share their passion for purity and productive lifestyles.
- Make your home available for extracurricular activities, so you can meet their friends, and indirectly influence them too.
- Impress upon them that their teen peers will likely be the friends who influence them most in their adult years.
While you are around to support them, have them begin to take responsibility for the friends they allow into their circle.
(4) Discourage Hero or Idol Worship
Sadly, many teens choose to be fans of people who are popular rather than principled. In his television series Anchors of Truth, John Lomocang brings to light the hidden satanic symbols displayed on stage by popular icons like Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Kanye West and many of the other music stars which our children idolize. Without being aware, our children help their stars extend these negative influences by imitating the Baphomet horns and other hand signals which have satanic origins.
Among the lessons parents teach the children, should be included that:
- They can love everyone but their adoration belongs only to God.
- Their purity choices extend to the lyrics they sing, the books they read, the movies they watch, and to the content of their texting and emails.
- The life-size posters in their rooms, and the pictures on the T-shirts should not be chosen randomly, but should promote what they believe.
- Because every human being has character flaws, none is worthy of worship or fanatic admiration.
Be Positive When You Discipline
(5) Affirm and Applaud Wise Judgement
Occasionally, your teen who seems inattentive to your teaching, will take a stand or initiate an ethical action that surprises you. Make it a big deal. Commend him or her. Let your child hear you expressing the pleasure you feel to someone else. Everyone loves to receive applause.
Some teens might not have left home if they received the acceptance and approval they longed for. On the other hand, those accustomed to genuine parental applause will call home when they run into a dry spell in distant places. The approval of parents do not substitute for the approval of friends, but it encourages the child to keep on track.
Last, but definitely not least, keep your teen lifted up in prayer. While they are at home, teach them purity principles from God's Word and pray with them as they make their commitment to live pure lives.
Who has not heard of the power of a parent’s prayer? And of the moral stamina of the child who heard a parent call his or her name in prayer? Make prayer for your children a daily habit while they’re at home, and let them know they can count on your continued prayers when they leave. If anyone can intercede effectively for another, it is a parent for a child.
© 2011 Dora Isaac Weithers