If there is a teenager in your home, you see something everyday that others may miss: The battle for their hearts is real and the battle is here. The culture's impact on even Christian homes is undeniable. The question screaming in a parent's mind is:
"What in the world do I do?! How can I protect, help, and arm my kids?"
Over the last few months, you may have seen leaders talking about the battle for this young generation. Now, let's talk about some specific tools you can use to win the battle for your children.
Know all of the media that is influencing your kids. The world is out to get our kids' cash, and they will break all the moral standards they can to do it. Emerging technology can easily submerge kids in images and lyrics that would shock you. The distrust should not be placed in our kids, but rather in the world. It's time to draw the battle lines.
As parents, we must jump between the media's influence and our kids. Know the CDs they listen to and the songs on their iPods. Create a system where you check their music regularly and compare the lyrics to the bible. Also consider: What Internet sites do they visit? Make sure that you know the address of their MySpace or other online blogs and know the "friends" that they connect with online. For a Christian alternative to MySpace, check out the Battle Plans on www.battlecry.com.
Find mentors that can speak into your child's life. When we talk about honoring parents at our events, teens react like they have never heard about it before! Even though parents have taught their children what is right a million times, kids can hear it in a fresh and different way when it comes from someone else. Surround your kids with people that can connect with them in different ways than you can.
Know all their friends. The impact of peer pressure is undeniable. As parents, we need to help them find the right friends.
Plug them into a youth group that is full of on-fire people, not just a church room where cynical kids hang out.
Some parents we respected once told my wife Katie and I the biggest mistake they ever made: letting their kids sleep over at other houses. Since then, to protect them, we seldom let our kids spend the night with friends. You never know what they are learning while they are away. The only families we allow our children to spend the night with are those we undeniably know and trust. Spend time with your kids and their friends so that you are well connected with their social world. And be wary of elusive friends. You should be aware of every influence.
Remember, you are still the parent and you have the authority to decide who is in their peer group.
Engage your kid's heart. Make sure that you are connected with your kids at the heart level. When I notice that my kids are listening more to others than to me, I spend more time with them. For example, I take my daughters on regular dates. Know who owns your child's heart; keep a "heart monitor" on them.
While battling for our own kids, let us not forget those without Christian parents. Get involved in their friends' lives or in a local youth ministry. Volunteer your time, love, and money. You can connect with others that have a passion to reach young people at www.battlecry.com, and you can find resources such as video clips and sermon outlines to help you battle for the teenagers in your area. It is imperative that you get involved. Together, we can reach this generation.
Ron Luce is the founder of Teen Mania, one of the world's largest Christian youth organizations, which inspires, empowers, and equips teens to reject the negative influences of pop culture and embrace the "coolness" of Christ. This year, Teen Mania is rallying hundreds of thousands of teens in the BattleCry movement to save their generation. For more information, visit www.BattleCry.com.