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Parents, Wake Up!

“When acceptance is the highest value, when avoiding condemnation online is worth more than the truth, the truth will be swiftly discarded. Online likes, followers and reputation – weak, empty values - dominate the teenage world because teenagers are not being taught alternative (values)…by the adults in their lives.” -Daniel Idfresne (a senior at Brooklyn Tech in New York).

I ran across the above quote and was astonished at the wisdom coming from a young man around 18 years old. The point he is making is teens fall victim to desiring acceptance in their social media world MORE than they desire truth. They will cater to any form of lie to protect their fragile egos from being attacked. Their online reputation is more important to them than reality. Idfresne is looking directly at adults, and placing the blame on us, when he made these comments.

Parents, it is our job to instill into our children the values we treasure and to teach our children their worth does not come from the world, but from God. I often hear people say they do not talk about their faith or their views with their children. My question is always, “Why not?!?” The response is usually the same. “Well, it might lead to an argument,” or “I want them to make up their own minds.” These answers hold no water with me, and here is why.

Growing up in Texas, most everyone I knew was indoctrinated at an early age as to which college they would attend. I was brought up a Texas Tech Red Raider and could proudly display our school’s hand signal before I was two. Many of my friends were able to sing the Baylor fight song before they could fully read. My elementary school friends would get into arguments on the playground as to whether the University of Texas or Texas A&M would win the big game that upcoming weekend.

Many of the families that ran away from instilling their views and beliefs into their children were often the same families that had no problem telling their young ones which university they “must” attend. What happened if their offspring betrayed the family and enrolled in the rival school? You can bet your bottom dollar there were arguments that ensued and teeth-gnashing to be had. So, no, I do not buy the answer that some did not want to engage in arguments, or they wanted to give their children the freedom to make up their own minds.

Parents, if we do not have candid conversations with our children regularly about what we believe and WHY we believe it (and back it up with facts), then someone else will fill that void. Every chance my husband and I had with our son we linked our faith and beliefs into real life scenarios. Not only did we teach him what we believed, but we gave him the tools to defend why we believed. When he was seven, he began repeating what we had taught him. Although we were pleased, we noticed a weakness in his words. Our son could regurgitate what we had said, but he had an inability to defend his stance. He was just parroting our words back to us.

We liked that he had adopted our beliefs (which does not always happen), but just agreeing with someone does not give that person the ability to defend themselves when challenged. We knew it was our responsibility to give our son the tools he needed for that inevitable day when he would face opposition. We did this by helping him learn critical thinking skills.

When our son would mention a topic while riding with us in the car, or at the dinner table, we began taking the opposite point of view. Conversations were lively, and we would debate and argue. (We still do this, and he is now a married man.). As a child, when he told us what he believed, we made him defend himself with facts. One day our son said to me, “Well, I believe x, y, z, because I feel…” I stopped him right there and said, “Son, I love you, but I could care less how you ‘feel’ about this situation. I want facts. Defend your position with facts.” That was a turning point for him. Once he entered high school, he was able to hold his own and stand up for what he believed, even when he faced others that did not agree with him. Being armed with truth gave him the courage to speak.

I must mention that teaching your child to think critically does not mean they will always believe like you believe. This is the risk we take as parents when we give our children the tools to analyze things on their own. This may be the most important thing I say in this post, so hear me: as adults, we make mistakes, too! (Shocker, I know!!) I have a son that thinks critically, researches the facts, looks at all sides of an issue, and can voice what he believes. He and I do not always agree, because sometimes I am wrong about an issue. But I do have confidence in him when he speaks, because I know he has applied his critical thinking skills before he takes a stance.

How do we teach our children to have the courage to stand for what they believe and not rely on the culture for truth? Teach them God’s truth. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 ESV). And this is how you do it:

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes with the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:11-17 NIV).

The sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon in the armor of God, and the “sword” is God’s Word, the Bible. It is through God’s Word, and the knowledge of what He teaches us, that we have the weapons to defend truth.

When a person is not confident in their own beliefs, and they know they cannot defend their position, they will remain quiet in the face of opposition. Either that, or they will lash out by attacking the character of the person with whom they are conversing. This is a psychological weapon that is used for the purpose of saying, “If I can make you feel small then it will make me feel big.”

Being armed with knowledge and being able to defend your position gives all of us the courage we need to stand for truth. And it is being armed with truth that allows our children to have confidence in themselves and not seek approval from a false social media world that decides their worth with a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Parents, we are not preparing our children when we do not teach them truth and critical thinking skills. It is only through truth that a lie can be detected. God teaches us we learn truth through His Word, and by putting on His armor. God impressed this upon the Israelites in Deuteronomy when He said, “Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul... You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied... For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you… No man will be able to stand before you; the Lord your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot…” (Deuteronomy 11: 16, 18-23, 25 NASB).

Modern summary: God tells parents to teach His ways to their children, otherwise their hearts will be deceived. They will begin to follow other gods (the culture). We are instructed to tell them about God when they wake up and go to bed. We are to admire His handiwork in every leaf, talk of His creation when we pick fruit from the trees, and hear His voice when the birds sing. Everything in our created world points to God. Our love and devotion to Him, and our understanding that all life comes from God, is to be taught to our children. When we do this, when we abide in God, we have His protection from our enemies, and we share in His blessings. When we stay connected to God, He gives us the courage to stand for truth and accomplish great things for Him. When we do not stay connected to God, we wither away.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV).

The takeaway from this blog? 1. We must teach our children how to think critically and an important way we do this is helping them understand they must know both sides of an issue. Those that choose to fill their minds only with information that feeds into their views lose the ability to think for themselves. The wise man “seeks to understand.” This means understanding all points of an issue. 2. We must teach our children where their true worth comes from, and that will only be achieved when they believe they were “fearfully and wonderfully made” by a God who gave His life for them. We teach them to arm themselves with the Sword, which is God’s Word.

Parents let’s follow the wise advice of Daniel Idfresne. Teach our children truth and the values we hold as a family. If we do not, others will happily step into this role to shape our child’s mind, teaching them that their value is found only in the number of likes they receive from strangers they do not even know.

We need to teach our children their value comes from one place, and that is from the God who created them, and it is only His truth that matters. When our children seek validation from the world, their lives will be full of hurt and dysfunction. But when they know they are worthy, because God finds them worthy, then what the world thinks will hold no power over our children.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou


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