It could not be more revealing: What you spend your money on reflects what you think is important. We either invite or repel the world’s culture with every dollar we spend.
Teenagers spend $150 billion a year on what you allow them to spend it on. Don’t make the mistake of thinking, “They earned it; they can buy whatever they want.” You, as the parent, have the right to say, “No, you are not ready for an iPOD (or a computer).” You allow them to work a summer job, and then you help them plan how to spend the money wisely.
When your kids start putting the squeeze on you, who has influenced them to influence you? With the constant barrage of media luring them down a path, it’s easy for the world’s values to dominate most kids’ desires.
Our desire to give our kids more than what we had when growing up, or make up for the time that we cannot spend with them can lead to their absorption with the media that destroys them. The time they spend and the values they learn from the media contraptions you bring home will actually pull you farther away from having a deep relationship with them. Your desire to give them what you never had may turn out to be a curse and drive you farther apart as a family.
Our children live in a very entertainment-demanding culture that has moved on from the “unsophisticated” board games of my generation. We need to be the ones that come up with ways for our family to be interactive. Video games are not the interaction that we want to give to our kids. Though, there are some you can play against each other that interactive playing may or may not happen, even though that is the intention. There are other really good interactive board and card games that will engage your kids’ attention, like Mad Gab, Catch Phrase, Apples to Apples, Imagine If, Clue, Scattergories, Monopoly, UNO, Phase 10, Pit, Spoons, Hearts, Spit, Hit the Deck, and Skip Bo, to name several.
Try to stay away from having every family night be about watching a video. That is the easy way out. Think about an indulgent time spent absorbing Hollywood’s values versus laughing hysterically together throughout a competitive game. Which would you choose?
All the things that used to be luxuries have turned into necessities and ‘must haves.’ Now 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds have cell phones! It’s okay to say no. We felt pressure from our own kids to get them CD players and cell phones when they were younger than we thought they should be to own these things. We told them no. Proverbs 23:4 says: “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.”
Fathers and mothers who get a monetary bonus from their employer and spend that money on indulging themselves on cutting-edge technology only make the family even more chaotic by inviting more media into the house. Before you buy, think about the effect every purchase will have on your family. We have prioritized putting money away for our kids’ college, for a rainy day, for the future, to give to missions. Every dollar you spend communicates what you value. You need to decide in advance what kind of family you want to have and the values you want them to emulate. Then allow your purchases to line up with those values. Even though your ego will not be thrilled in the moment, your family will be thrilled in the long term.
Ron Luce is the president and founder of Teen Mania Ministries, a Christian organization reaching millions of young people worldwide. He passionately declares the Gospel through Acquire the Fire TV broadcasts, youth events, camps and media resources, challenging teens to take a stand for Christ. www.teenmania.org