I wish I could say that I’ve lived the perfect life of giving in to no temptation and saying all the right things. I would love to brag that I’ve always looked at all the right images and turned my away at just the right time. If I could only claim that I have and am living a life of accountability at every moment, I know I’d be a better person. I have learned that each of us must be accountable to someone all of the time, yet I have more freedom than I deserve. I am very determined to live a life free from foolishness and desires, attractions and enticements that can destroy my character and influence. Yet, even as an adult, being only accountable to myself is difficult. It takes a tremendous amount of dedication and discipline, both of which I have grown into over time. Yet, many times I still fail.
Dedication and discipline are both virtues that kids are not born with. They are taught and caught and must be lived out in those who are the most influential in kids’ lives. I grew up in a strong Christian household and fortunately learned these virtues fairly well. By listening to parents who loved us (my brothers, sisters, and me) enough to say, “No”. By watching them live out these virtues in their own lives.
Unfortunately, like all parents, mine missed a few things and I veered a bit (actually a lot) from their teaching many times. Fortunately, however, they set a precedence in my life with these two virtues – dedication and discipline. Comparatively, I had a friend of mine whose father owned a Triple-X book store in downtown Fort Worth. Now, as far as I know the didn’t encourage his two boys to look at the trash he sold, but why would they not. He was rarely involved in their lives, supplied them with no moral example, and rarely had anything good to say to or about their friends. Surprisingly, as teens, we got very little pornography from his home. The porn that we occasionally got our hands on came from a couple of friends’ older brothers. We discovered magazines on top of the closet shelves we boost each other up to. For a handful of great mentoring resources, click here.
Few of you reading this article know anything of the days because magazines have become online subscriptions or simply websites that are accessible with one click. So how do parents and grandparents keep our children and grandchildren from becoming caught up in this incredibly sex-crazed world that is today. We must still start with teaching them dedication and discipline. Virtues are still critical. To help, I borrowed from a relevant article written by Debbie McDaniel. It is below:
10 Vital Steps for Raising Kids in a Sex-Crazed World:
1. Listen – Keep communication open and honest. Sometimes as parents, we’re great at talking, but not as good at listening. But we can be. Ask open ended questions. Give them time to respond and talk. Help them learn how to work through tough problems without trying to solve everything for them. Maybe offer words like, “what do you think might be the best thing to do?” Hold your own emotions in check, resist the urge to react, judge, or use anger to get your point across. Stay approachable.
2. Be aware. We can never just assume all is safe and well. That doesn’t mean we live in fear, but it does mean we walk in wisdom. Know where your kids are. Know who their friends are. Know their friends’ families. Know what they’re watching. Know who they’re texting. Know what they’re listening to. Know what they’re wearing. Know what they’re reading. Know who their social network followers are. Know what games they’re playing. Know what apps they have downloaded (Here are the 9 most dangerous). If you’re not good at technology – get good. Surprise your kids with how smart you really are. Keep the computers and TV’s in common family areas. Know the passwords on their accounts and electronics. Establish appropriate boundaries, such as checking in cell phones at night, screen time limits, and curfew times.
3. Be present. Invest time with them. Avoid getting so busy with life demands that quality time with family is cut too short. Share meals together. This becomes more challenging as kids grow up and head in different directions, but make it a goal – maybe one meal a day- that you share together. Create one-on-one time, just with you. Dads, show your daughter how she should be treated by any young man – open her door, make her feel special, honor her. Teach your boys how highly they should value and respect a girl. Spend some time doing boy stuff. Sometimes the best conversations flow while doing the things they most enjoy.
4. Speak encouragement. Speak words of blessing over their lives, words of grace and acceptance. Look them in the eye and say it out loud. Tell them you love them. Unconditionally. Forever. No matter what. Tell them they are strong. Tell them they are beautiful. Remind them that God made them for a great purpose, that they are valuable to Him and to you. Tell them their significance is never to be found in the approval of others, their outward appearance, or some measure of success from the world’s perspective. Remind them they don’t have to be perfect. Take the pressure off. Choose to talk about the hard stuff before temptations are staring them in the face; equip them with wisdom ahead of time.
5. Protect them. Set boundaries. Let them learn to make age appropriate choices as they grow older, yet also remembering that you are the parent and have the final say. There are days that our children may not “like” us much, but there will be many more days that they may thank us for saying “no.” Kids need boundaries. We all do – no matter what our age. Though sometimes the word “no” is hard to swallow and we’re quickly labeled as the “meanest mom ever,” there is much security and confidence in knowing we are protected by boundaries.
6. Keep your family strong. Whether you’re married or single, be on the same team. Be willing to work through conflicts together. Though no marriage is perfect, we can be an example of showing mutual love and respect within our families. Love your spouse. Protect your marriage and family. That in itself brings huge confidence to the life of a child in a crazy world.
7. Encourage healthy friendships. Teach respect for one another. Choose not to focus so much on the girlfriend/boyfriend thing. Limit time spent with just one person of the opposite sex. Encourage hanging out in groups, rather than one on one dating. Be aware of bullying or aggressive behavior. Teach them that their true identity is found in Christ, not in another person.
8. Inspire greatness. Teach them to dream big. Challenge them to think outside the box. Encourage them to do hard things. Give them opportunity to do what they love most in life. Help them to find what they’re good at. Provide opportunities for serving others and giving to those in need, especially those who cannot repay. Inspire a heart of gratitude that isn’t based on what you own. Empower them with strength and courage to know it’s OK to stand for what they believe.
9. Teach them Truth. Let them know how important it is to you. Make sure they have their own Bible. Help them find a devotional book or app they can relate to. Lead them to know the One who will keep their steps firm in a shifting world. Find a place of worship you trust, where you can grow. Don’t try to look for the perfect church. There’s not one. But there is great strength in finding connection with other believers.
10. Pray for them. Every day. They need us to pray. Our kids are faced with daily temptations, battles, traps, just as we are. Ultimately, our children belong to God. And He has given us the chance to care for them during these years. We have the potential to leave deep, lasting impressions in their hearts by praying, teaching His Truth, and giving them guidance to know the God who loves them so incredibly much.
The good news is – it’s not all up to us. He is able. To give grace. To forgive. To set free. To redeem. To keep safe. To lead in wisdom. To guide in truth.
These are great principles to pass on – and to live out – so that they can be passed on our future generations. These 10 things will are easy to read and hard to live out, AND it is the HARD things that help us grow. When a kid learns to grow through the dedication and discipline, he/she will realize their true potential more effectively.