If your child had to vote today, how would they vote? If they left for college next week would they join a church? Become an atheist? How do they feel about the death penalty, our President, The NFL “kneelers” or gay marriage? Do you have discussions with your teens and tweens about these important subjects or are you from a “let the chips fall where they may” belief system that subscribes to letting them figure it all out on their own?
Whatever your method, they will choose one. They will vote. They will treat others a certain way. They will form a belief system. We can either influence their decisions or the world will. It’s that simple.
To make sure they choose wisely and are equipped with the tools necessary to navigate this ever changing world politically, spiritually and socially, here are some tips to ensure they become balanced, compassionate, and informed members of society.
- Instill a Moral Code/Value System—whether they are the personality type that will wander off the “beaten moral path”, or are consistent compliers (I have one of each), statistics are in your favor that they eventually will return to their moral foundation.
- Try a “Personal Dilemma Challenge”—for this iGen/millennial group it’s all about social justice. With that, make sure there is balance, fact seeking and critical thinking as well. Watch news shows with them, engage them in a discussion about what they think of today’s issues and why. Talk to them about a challenging situation at work, church or school and ask how they’d handle it.
- Let Natural Consequences Happen—DON’T RESCUE THEM. Let them feel the discomfort of their choices. Let them know what they are feeling is normal and encourage them to not make the same poor choice in the future if they don’t enjoy their emotional discomfort. It’s how they learn to cope.
- Time Spent-The most common request from teens I see in my practice, is for parents to seek them out and get involved in THEIR world. Ask them about the latest apps, text slang, or issues they face.
- Teach them Tolerance vs. Intolerance: Tolerance is tricky. We are to be tolerant, patient, and accepting of other’s views–to a point. We need to teach our children to listen, think about what was said, perhaps fact check it and have a civil discussion. We also need to make sure they realize that that doesn’t mean they need to subscribe to those views or live them out if they do not line up with their personal moral code and value system. I always tell my children that God is indeed a tolerant God, until He is not. He is tolerant of a wide variety of people, opinions, actions and behaviors. He is not, however, tolerant of sin, evil, depravity or those who blasphemously ignore His commandments and seek to destroy (Joshua 7:1, Romans 1:18). Train them up well parents, teach them kindness or “chesed” (Psalm 89:3)–my favorite (Hebrew) word in the entire world, but also teach them to stand up for their beliefs, causes, and do so in a Godly manner so they will be blameless, meek and unstained by the world’s influence .
Parents, you’ve got this. Seek them out. Have the tough conversations. Engage in their world and keep fighting the good fight!