I’ve known Christian parents who wish their teenagers wouldn’t watch R-rated movies, wish their daughters wouldn’t wear suggestive swimsuits and prom dresses, and wish their sons wouldn’t put sexually provocative posters on their walls, look at pornography on their phones, or listen to music that glorifies immorality.
We must stop wishing and start acting! God does not give us responsibility without corresponding authority.
“But I don’t want my children to think I don’t trust them.” Trust is important, but it is never unrealistic. Some parents trust their teenagers in situations I wouldn’t trust myself in. You can trust your fourteen-year-old to his level of maturity and life skills. But that doesn’t mean you would trust him to fly the space shuttle or have a smart phone with internet access. Some things he’s not yet ready for.
A young man from another state once met one of my daughters at a sports camp. Because we had one family email address, his emails to my daughter came to me. I sat down with her, recognizing she had done nothing wrong, to tell her I felt she needed to stop receiving emails from him.
She started crying. I felt terrible, because I really did trust her, but based on some of what he wrote, I didn’t trust him. Soon I was crying, too. Finally I squeezed her hand and walked away, feeling like a lousy dad.
Just then I felt my daughter’s hand on my shoulder. I turned and she hugged me, still in tears. Then she whispered words I’ve never forgotten: “Thank you for protecting me, Daddy.”
I wonder how many dads have failed to protect their daughters and sons because they craved their approval. When speaking on sexual purity, I once asked a class of 125 Christian college students, “Looking back, how many of you wish your parents had given you less freedom in your high school years to go where you wanted to and hang out with who you wanted to?” Over 100 hands shot up.
Children will resent and eventually despise parents who just want to be their friends, including dressing and acting like them. Your children already have friends. They need you to be what only you can be—their parent.
Photo by Redd Angelo via Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.