The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)


Jan 21, 2012

Culture Challenge of the Week: Parents Who Won't Parent

The new Fox TV show, "I Hate My Teenage Daughter," aired an episode recently that provoked passionate debate among real life moms. The TV episode followed a mom's reaction when her fourteen-year-old daughter wanted to date an older teen--a teenage dad. One viewer, then, turned to her peers on the popular blog site for moms, CafeMom, and asked, "Would you let your teenage daughter [age 14] date a guy who has a baby?"

While many of the moms said "no," (often saying they wouldn't let a fourteen-year-old date anyone), a few flakes said yes, and a significant number waffled.

The "wafflers" trouble me most.

Many wafflers were moms who felt a decision like this -- whether their 14-year-old should go out with a teen father -- wasn't theirs to make. As parents, they could only speak their piece and hope for the best.

Rules? Futile.

In their world, teens call the shots. Parental wisdom stacks up as one opinion among many -- advice to be considered, or not. Whether a teen will follow parental advice on dating is no more predictable than a roll of the dice.

"I would try to persuade her not to," said one mom. "I doubt I would have a choice, but I wouldn't like it," said another. A third chimed in with a fatalistic virtual shrug, "You can't really control love…"

Teen dating decisions for these moms clearly fall within the realm of personal autonomy, and so a daughter's autonomy (at 14!) would be absolute. Like selecting perfume, who they will spend time with alone becomes a matter of distinctly personal preference, impervious to rules or objective measure.

And so, if these parents believe they ought to suspend their parental judgment in favor of adolescent preference, what then is a parent's role? To 'support' --financially and emotionally -- their teen's decisions, regardless of whether or not those decisions are moral and prudent.

It's a secular parenting philosophy that extends beyond dating decisions to nearly every aspect of teenagers' lives -- friends, music, school, media, and faith. Teenage autonomy trumps parental authority.

The stage has been set for years now. From cartoons, to children's books, to adolescent literature, to school sex ed classes -- the cultural message is that parents are either clueless buffoons, or old-school tyrants. And, if parents don't willingly grant autonomy to their teens, then kids need a work-around (often provided by "teen advocates" with their own agenda).

Too often, parents themselves buy into this philosophy. As a result, according to Albert Mohler, the President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, parents today "have largely become passive facilitators in the lives of their children."

How To Save Your Family with Loving Direction [Authority]

These waffling moms need to take their blinders off. With eyes wide open, they need to look around and realize that they, not their teens, are the grown-ups in the room.
Teens simply don't have the knowledge, maturity, and wisdom to make adult judgments.

This is why they have us.

Parents possess experience and wisdom that children won't have for years. Even a mature teenager cannot easily envision -- by herself -- the full, long-term consequences of her actions. She hasn't lived long enough and doesn't know enough. An adult, on the other hand, presumably is aware of the consequences of early dating -- and the risks of dating an older male whose values and self-control are in doubt.

Most of the moms in this online conversation had the right instincts -- they knew the right decision. What they lacked was the confidence and will to act; they lacked the confidence and will to parent.

That's not okay.

Parents have more than wisdom and years -- we have a responsibility, given by God, to train our children in the way they should go. (Prov. 12:6). It's an ongoing responsibility -- a gift to our children -- that does not end magically when a child hits 13.

Or, 15. Or, 17.

Loving parental authority not only teaches children right from wrong, but also helps them develop prudence, exercise gradual independence, and assume greater personal responsibility on the path to adulthood.

Teenagers need their parents, and parents need to parent.

Do your teens call the shots in your home? Is your parental wisdom just one opinion among many -- "advice" for your teen to consider or reject? It's time for parents to parent!


Teens rebel. It's an inevitability that is not a matter of if, but when, and how often. And, even the best teens think that they know what's best for them, and will reject your wisdom from time to time.

But, the answer is not to throw your hands in the air (or, offer a virtual shrug), and accept defeat. Teens do not know what's best for them. They need you, and the rebellion you see in them is evidence of that.

Stand your ground. Don't relent. They may not immediately recognize that you are right, and that you have their best interests in mind, but one day they will. And, the alternative -- letting teens run their own lives -- can have tragic consequences.

More than just needing you -- teens want you. They want your guidance and rules. So, be there for them. They'll appreciate it more than they'll let you know.

Rebecca Hagelin - 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family

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