The place to begin building a bridge to our child’s heart is: be aware.
Adolescence is a very scary time for our kids. It is especially hard on those entering middle school. They have been relatively protected and now they are being thrown into situations that no one has prepared them for. It is important for us who invest in youth to be informed about what is happening in the culture; and what they are going up against.
2 Corinthians 2:11 says “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” (NIV) We have got to be aware.
1) Start with Smart Phones:
What are the newest apps students are using?
Snapchap For 2 – 10 seconds a picture shows up and then disappears. The thrill is that the picture goes away quickly. But it doesn’t have to. Kids can screen shot and save the picture and then pass it around through texting.
Vine – a 6 second video you shoot and share on the Vine site or through Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Kik – An app that works like texting only you can add videos, sketches, etc. Using this application allows a student to bypass texting that might be checked by a parent.
AskFM – allows persons to anomalously ask questions to whomever they wish.
Even if your child doesn’t have a Smart Phone, her friends do. Make sure you know what she can be viewing on her friend’s Smart Phone.
2) Second, substances:
What are the current “drugs” of choice on the scene in her world, both legal and illegal?
Are her friends using synthetic marijuana? Discuss the dangers of this “legal” drug.
What prescription drugs are being sold at their school by other students? Have they been offered Adderol?
Cover the dangers of too many energy drinks back to back.
What are the current labels used to describe what God still calls “sexual”. Open up conversations on what your child thinks is ok and not ok. What does she think God thinks about it?
It is important for us to be informed so:
1)We can inform them, again especially true with those students entering middle school. It is better for our kids and students to learn about culture from us, where we can give them a mature perspective on the good and evil of what is available to them. Open their understanding to the possibilities of where their choices can lead.
2. We can open up dialogue and conversations that they can hopefully cause them feel comfortable talking to us about these difficult topics.
Middle schoolers, because of their lack of maturity, do not realize the severity of the choices they are making. Help them to see past the initial choices to the benefits and consequences.
Try asking questions in a non-threatening manner:
What if your friend sends a sexual picture that a boy is requesting? What could possibly happen?
If she does decide to do the sexual things he is asking to do, where could that lead?
Who does she want to be? What does she want to be known for?
Don’t be tempted to say, “My child isn’t running into that sort of thing, so I don’t have to worry about that.” Unfortunately, our children are exposed to a lot more than we think and we need to be aware. When we are informed, it says to our kids, “I care enough about you to learn about your world so that I can stand beside you.”
How can we get informed?
There are some terrific books and websites that can help us do just that. “Real Teens, Real Issues” by Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, Suzie Eller is terrific. There are also several blogs I follow for great information: The Whatever Girls, Nicole O’Dell, Vicki Courtney and Dannah Gresh. Every Wednesday I on my website “Wednesday Wisdom Tips”. With these resources, we have no reason to not be in the “know” for our children.
Not only should we be informed about the culture, but informed on how the culture is affecting our child. I try to do this by making conversation about their lives and asking them questions. Our very best conversations take place in the car; with no direct eye contact; this is where my child feels most comfortable. Ask questions about their friends on ball teams and classes, what they are watching on TV, music they are listening to.
Be sure to ask in a way that is conversational, not confrontational.
As a child I learned a lot about life on the playground: sex, abortion, boys. We just did not these conversations at our house. I want nothing to be “off limits” with my kids. For that reason, I have often been the one to bring issues up; so I can give them God’s perspective.
Think of each of your children. What is happening in their world? How are they being influenced and pulled? What can you do to get informed and come alongside during this tough season?