If there is one thing that really gets irritating it is the comment “I don’t care.” It indicates to me that someone is just shutting down, giving in, or caving to the pressure in front of them. It shows an unwillingness to deal with conflict, in favor of simply ignoring the issues at hand. When my son tells me he doesn’t care, I have found that he usually does care. I know this because when I say something like, “well if you don’t care, you won’t mind me taking that toy away.” Well, what do you know, he does care!
It is a never-ending battle to get people to truly take a stand for what they believe in. Teens, as well as adults, seem to get priorities all mixed up. Some people get bent out of shape when their favorite sports team loses or when their car won’t start and they are inconvenienced. At the same time, there is an indifference when it comes to concerns in the world that need to be addressed in order to teach children the difference between what is true and what is false. What is right and what is wrong? Who will be a consistent voice in the lives of young people in our culture to help them make wise choices? Maybe they say the don’t care, but they really do. Adults need to be invested in young lives, these things cannot be left to just anyone.
Let’s weigh the options for shaping our children:
Schools- We have one child in school and another one starting in the fall. I don’t have an issue with most of what is done in schools. Where we collide are on the issues surrounding sex education and other things that they shouldn’t be pushing on my child. The school has such a wide range of views that it could be confusing for even young kids to understand what is right or wrong. Bottom line, I just want them to stick to things they should teach and leave the more sensitive matters to parents to handle. What gives them the right to be the one to address these big items with my kids? We choose to remove our children from those things because we don’t feel it is the school’s place, it is ours.
Friends- Now, here’s a great idea! Let’s take a whole bunch of adolescence and ask them to define truth on their own. There has been too much of this taught from statements like, “you can be whatever you want to be” to “what is true for you is true for you.” That is confusing. There is no limit as to what you can aspire to be, but the truth is not everyone will get to where they aspire to be. It doesn’t mean they don’t try, or that they shouldn’t try hard. Leading kids to believe that they can do it all is misleading. Then what happens when they don’t? There is a crisis of purpose and understanding. It is far more effective to get wisdom from people who have walked the path and have some perspective on the journey.
Music- Music is a huge force in youth culture. If you have a teen in your house and you don’t know that, then it might be time to wake up. There are more music choices than anyone could ever keep track of. That does not mean we just ignore those choices and don’t ever enter into that world to figure out what they are listening to. I know many people would say that you can only listen to Christian music, but I wouldn’t make that claim. The reason is because the world we live in is diverse and we want to speak to where people are. The truth is people listen to all kinds of music, some of it vile, but some of it rather neutral. We can’t throw it all out and sit on our perch claiming that we are better than everyone. It doesn’t work very well. When people ask me what I listen to I tell them is that I listen to music that I do not mind my children singing along to.
Television/Movies: Again, here is a place where teenagers are spending money and time. Are you paying attention to what they are watching, not as an opportunity to judge and nag, but as an opportunity to talk about the themes in a movie. When I go on trips with middle or high school students, I always ask about movies they are watching. The reason I ask is because they are watching a lot of movies. They know a lot about movies and are always on the cutting edge of what new movies are coming out. I have young kids in my home, so I don’t watch that many movies in any given year. Asking teenagers helps me to keep up.
Church: Church is a valuable option, but it is not the only option. You cannot leave the directing of your children to other people. You, as a parent, are still the most influential person in your teen’s life. Youth ministry is a valuable resource, for parents, as it should be. We, in youth ministry, want to be a resource for parents as they try to raise their kids, helping them make godly choices. We are on the same team, so work together with the youth leaders in your church. If you don’t have anyone in the youth ministry, maybe you can find out if there are ways you can support it. It might not mean taking a camping trip with Jr. Highers, but it might be something as simple as praying for the group, or for a teen. It might be offering to get some supplies, or donate some money to something. It might be to simply encourage those in the trenches of youth ministry. Whatever it takes, get involved because youth ministry is not just for a few people, it is for everyone.
We do care. We need to care. Instead of taking a stand for truth and then backing down and taking a seat, let’s be an example for what it means to be courageous in our faith. It is not that we want to make people feel bad, but rather we want to love people. We want to be a part of that which is true and teach our kids to live the same.