A couple of nights ago, I had to explain to my 12-year-old daughter a term that I don’t recall hearing myself until I was well into my teens, maybe even college age.
In the realm of the immoral and violent, children hear so much so soon these days. I’m sure previous generations have said that, and it scares me to think what my grandchildren will be exposed to at young ages.
It makes me angry – but even more so, sad – that I have to talk to my girls about subjects that I wish they didn’t have to know about until they had grown up a bit more. Yet as parents, we can’t be oblivious to what is happening around us, thinking that our kids won’t hear those words or pick up on those concepts.
I consider our own children pretty sheltered, especially when it comes to the media we allow (or pretty much, don’t allow) in our home. But whether it’s from friends (yes, Christian ones) or the news on the car radio or the song lyrics playing over the store’s speaker system, they are vulnerable to hearing and seeing less-than-desirable words and actions.
We’re trying to be proactive in dealing with these topics with our daughters without giving them more information than they need…a delicate balance. Here are a few principles I’m trying to follow as we work our way through this.
- Keep the lines of communication open. I think this is so important. If you know they’ve heard something they probably don’t understand, talk about it. (We’ve had questions from our children prompted by something a pastor mentioned in a sermon.) I have one child who asks me about things, while I have to take the initiative with the other one. If you don’t know if they understand what something means, ask them to explain it to you. Sometimes this is, as one of my daughters put it, “awkward,” but you want them to hear the truth from you.
- Always be honest. That doesn’t mean you have to give unnecessary
details, but let them know as much as you think they can handle.
- Explain things on an age-appropriate level. What may have been a two-sentence conversation with my five-year-old has become a much longer discussion with my 14-year-old.
- Use God’s Word. Explain why what you’re discussing is sinful based on Scripture.
- Pray, pray, pray. Ask God to protect your children from evil and to give you wisdom and sensitivity when these situations arise.
We want to keep our children’s hearts and minds as pure and innocent as we can for as long as we can. With God’s help, we can give our children a strong, loving home where they feel comfortable talking to us and know that they will be given truth.
I’m definitely still feeling my way through this area of parenting. Let me know if you have any advice along these lines!