More and more parents are wanting to dialogue about their emerging children in late adolescence and beyond. Parents, and the adolescents themselves, have angst over how they are going to fit into this sinking culture. Many parents are alarmed. And research bears it out: 85% of college freshman are now losing their faith. This is warfare. Here are some thoughts about navigating these rough waters.
Years ago a successful set of parents had a novel approach to this dilemma. Early on, they cheerfully told their two children, with a twinkle in their eyes: "You're different; get used to it!" They confidently repeated the energizing phrase throughout their years. The parents informed their children that they would not be going to any activities their peers were going to, no dances, wild parties, nor listening to rock music. Instead, they would be raised on classical music, reading the Bible, etc. And then the parents kept their children so busy with positive endeavors that their adolescents’ heads were swimming with their own accomplishments and abilities. Every time the parents went by their children they spun their top, so to speak, and then spun it again. There was no time left for their adolescents to even look in the mirror; they combed their hair while doing something more productive! Those kids were fully occupied by early morning newspaper delivery routes, after-school horseback riding, engineering projects, weekend entertaining outsiders from church, late evening studying and paper-writing in rigorous academic studies, yard work or domestic skill development, earning money, and practicing musical instruments, etc. Those children emerged, strong stable individuals with a deep abiding faith.
First of all, we have to get over our OWN anxiety about our children fitting in and then our children will "catch" OUR confidence on the point! One must remember that hardly anyone throughout history who was a strong believer ever fit in. The greater the discipleship, the more counter-culture they became. Martyrs are the quintessential example. They simply didn't fit and never would. So, too, with people who weren't even believers but who made some great contribution to mankind; it was almost always a solo flight in the midst of extreme social outrage. You cannot be great in this world or the next without first cutting the ties of the fear of men. "The fear of men bringeth a snare." Die to it, and teach your children to die to it. Look only at His face, and seek to please Him; let the chips fall socially where they may. Our holy lifestyle is GOD's problem. Cease looking at outcomes. It is a sink-hole. Godly obedience is where there is a blessed future.
Spiritually, we must keep our adolescents’ minds riveted upon ETERNITY. Remind them that their every hour should be ruled by the final bar of history. That is why graveyards used to be placed around the front doors of churches—so that the church members would practically stumble over the gravestones on their walk up the path into the church. They were reminded of their mortality every seven days. The old Brethren pastor H. A. Ironsides said "There will not be a saint then, at the last great bar, who will regret having lived utterly for Christ, but there will be many who would give worlds had they been but more faithful in this scene of testing." Keep the heat up on your children’s awareness of their own mortality.
(To be continued)