By Contributing Writer, Kelly Crawford
Perhaps one of the most crippling influences on the grown-up generation of our day was the advent of “the teenager.” Dr. Michael Platt writes:
“There were no “teenagers” before World War II….
Instead of Teenagers, there were Youths. Youths were young people who wanted to become adults. However confused, wayward, or silly they acted, however many mistakes they made, they looked to the future. They knew that adult life was different than a child’s life. They planned to grow up, leave childhood behind, and become adults. They were aware that life is more than youth.
The Teenager has no such horizon. Beyond the “Teeny” world there is no adult life, no past with heroes, no future with goals.
As Christian parents given the task of ushering our children into adulthood, we are bound by one standard if we wish to see the Lord’s blessing on our families: that of His Word.
Sadly, though, many Christian parents have allowed the culture to trump the timeless truths in Scripture, mandating their parenting philosophies. The teenage culture we created, dominated by peer dependency, has stinted the growth of society as a whole, creating a host of problems. And still, the vast majority shake heads and wring hands, wondering “what’s gone wrong?”
We’re all familiar with the verse, “He who walks with the wise will become wise; but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
But the problem is, we don’t read it and understand the depth of practical wisdom for raising our children.
The Bible essentially explains that children are still “fools” in need of the counsel of those older than they. Simply understood, if a child spends most of his time with older, wiser people (and God just so happened to have him born into a family with two of them), he will grow into a wise adult. But if most of his time is spent with the foolish (i.e. his peers), then he will “suffer harm” reaching into his adult life.
Peer influence can be a wonderful, positive thing, if it’s handled the right way. A limited amount of time spent with peers who share your family’s values can be an important asset to a young person if a “peer culture” is avoided (spending massive amounts of time without adult influence).
Positive peer influence has benefited our family greatly as we try to steer our children in a growing direction. But the peers who have most positively affected our children did so precisely because they spent the majority of their time “walking with the wise.”
Interestingly, even professionals in the secular world are confirming this truth. Dr. Gabor Mate says:
Children are increasingly forming attachments that compete with their parents, with the result that the proper context for parenting is less and less available to us. Not a lack of love or of parenting know how but the erosion of the attachment context is what makes our parenting ineffective.
Our children were placed into families, not peer groups. The Lord knew what is so easy for us to confirm: in order to effectively teach our children, we must “have their hearts:” that relationship that causes them to respect and care about what we have to say. “My son, give me your heart.”
Pull your children close and be confident that this is right and good. Don’t sacrifice the hearts of your children for a lie from the one who “seeks to kill, steal and destroy.”
Raise them in wisdom by walking with them.