"And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home" Deuteronomy 6:5-6
In addressing the relationship between parents and their teenagers, often the emphasis focuses on
helping teens build more trust with their parents. But the truth is that many kids don't trust their
parents! What is it that causes teens not to trust their parents? In my experience, most teenagers
identify the source of their lack of trust in parents as the result of seeing firsthand that their parents
are less than honest with them. Jesus commands His followers, "Simply let your 'yes' be 'yes,' and
your 'no' be 'no'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Matthew 5:37.) Let's face facts: no
parent is perfect. Still, as parents we are called to live our lives with integrity. Because we serve as
our children's role models for life and faith, we need to be very careful in how we live our lives before
our kids. Your kids don't need your perfection, they need your honesty, and especially when you fail
to follow through on something you said you would do. How can you increase your "honesty"
quotient and, as a result, your trust level with your kids?
1. Think before you promise. Ask yourself, "If I make this promise, can I keep my word?"
2. If you can't keep your word, don't promise. It's much better to say, "I'm going to try my hardest to
get to your game tomorrow, but I can't promise you I'll make it" and not make it, than to say, "I'll be
there for sure!" and not show up.
3. Think before you act. When it occurs to you that you can't keep your word, be sure to evaluate the
message it will send your son or daughter. Then, consider how you can minimize the resulting
damage if you truly can't keep your verbal commitment.
4. Ask for your child's forgiveness when you fail to keep your word. Don't sweep your failures under
the carpet. Face them head on. Apologize and ask for forgiveness.
Honesty and integrity are two vital parts of trust in any relationship. Keeping your word with your kids
is always the best policy. When your track record as a parent is one of consistent honesty, trust
between you and your teen will grow.
Discipleship is a word that is thrown around in ministry a lot these days. Church staff members in many of our churches are constantly searching for the next big idea on how to lead people to become more devoted followers of Christ. This is a question that keeps many ministers up at night. This is a question that I have asked myself numerous times. How do I get kids to fall deeper in love with the God who created them? How do I get them to own their faith and eventually share it with others? How do we get kids to understand that salvation is so much more than being able to spend forever in heaven with God? The answer that I keep coming back to is the fact that this can only happen through the family. Psalm 78 has played over and over in my head,
“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
And this is just four verses! There is so much within this text that we often miss. It does not say that the church is supposed to tell the coming generations of the deeds of the Lord, but the family. Discipleship is both initiated and cultivated in the home. Parents have more influence than they can ever imagine when it comes to the spiritual development of their children. When children see faith displayed in the lives of their parents, they naturally will want to display those same qualities. Yet, the question that is asked by so many parents is, “Where do we begin with this seemingly daunting task?” I believe that there are three things that can bring discipleship back into the home and make it a reality once again.
1. Parents must tell their children how they came to faith in Christ.
I can think of many children that have no idea how their parents came to know Christ. The children know that their parents believe, however they are not sure what drew them into a relationship with Jesus. Your story of salvation is also a part of your child’s story of salvation. Therefore, telling them how you met Jesus makes salvation a real thing to them. The more they hear your story about salvation, the more they are likely to experience their own story of salvation. It is one thing for a pastor to stand in the pulpit on Sunday mornings and talk about coming to faith in Christ. When children hear the story of how you came to faith in Christ, it becomes more meaningful to them. This allows the children to grasp what life is like without Christ, to realize their own lostness. But more importantly, they get to hear how Christ changed you and how you are now a new person. All of a sudden salvation becomes more real to them. This can be the beginning of a continual spiritual conversation in the household.
2. Parents must take every opportunity to point to Christ.
We look for teaching moments in a child’s life every day. However, these usually pertain to their behavior rather than their Spiritual development. God blesses many of us with 6,408 days (from brith to 18 years) to continuously point our children to Himself. If parents are the primary disciplers of their children, then every moment can either point them to God or to the world. We will do whatever it takes to make sure we have “good” kids that have “good” behavior. However, our behavior is what flows out of our heart. Therefore, issues of behavior are truly a matter of the heart. Matthew 15:19 says, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Luke 6:45 says, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Jesus was telling his listeners that who we truly are comes from the heart. Moments of discipline are teaching moments pointing back to our belief in God. Therefore, we must understand that there is so much going on beneath what we see on the surface. As parents, God has equipped us to speak directly into their heart by pointing them to the Savior Jesus Christ.
3. Parents must show their children Jesus by the way they live.
This is the scary part, because if anyone knows that parents mess up it is their children. They see the good, the bad and the ugly. However, parents can live a life that is pleasing to the Lord, and their children will follow suit. I remember growing up and watching my parents love others in a way that had a huge impact on how I now treat others. I also remember seeing my parents being confronted with a people who were upset or agitated, and how they handled that person with so much grace and mercy. I am not at all saying that they were perfect; they did however model for me the fruits of the Spirit. They showed me that if Jesus truly lived in my life, then others will notice by the way I talk and by how I love others. Sometimes living out your spiritual life in front of your kids means admitting that you are a sinner too. This is scary, but whether you like it or not, your children know that you are not perfect. So it is time to take down the mask and admit that you struggle with certain things. Just think about the impact it would make to a child who struggles with anger to sit down with their parent, and the parent explains how they handle life when they are angry. This would change the way kids understood their parents.
Psalms 127:3-5 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” Children are a blessed gift from the Lord. Therefore, their spiritual development is of upmost importance to the family and to the church. God has called parents to be the primary disciplers of their children and not the church. The church is called to journey alongside parents.
We are in this together. Parents the church is for you, we are ready to fight for your children with you.
Article by Erin Woodfin is a full time Children’s Minister at Immanuel Baptist Church in Marshall, TX. More from Erin Woodfin or visit Erin at http://bekidsmobile.com/
Not everything online is evil, nor does danger lurk behind every new app that comes to market. But keeping up with your teens' and preteens' online activities is much like trying to nail jelly to the barn door -- frustrating, futile and something bound to make you feel inept.
Keep in mind that no app poses a danger in and of itself, but many do provide kids with an opportunity to make, ahem, bad choices.
1. Audio Manager.
Sometimes when it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's really not a duck. Such is the case with Audio Manager, an app that has nothing to do with managing your teen's music files or controlling the volume on his smartphone and everything to do with him hiding things like nude photos from you. It's one of the top apps for hiding other apps.
Yes, there are such things. Kids can hide any app they don’t want you to see, Teen Safe says. When you press and hold the Audio Manager app, a lock screen is revealed -- behind which users can hide messages, photos, videos, and other apps.
Same deal, but this time with a calculator icon posing as something it isn't. Sedgrid Lewis, online safety expert, notes that these apps look like a normal calculator app but when teens push a button within the app they can hide all inappropriate pictures. "It's a key way teens are hiding their nude pictures from their parents," said Lewis.
Lewis says the best way to solve this situation is for parents to add their teen to their iCloud account. That way, whenever a new app is downloaded by the teen, it will automatically download to the parent's phone as well.
Think it's not serious? Last fall, there was a headline-making case in a Colorado high school where teens used apps to hide a huge sexting ring from parents and school officials. And an Alabama district attorney, Pamela Casey, posted the video below to warn parents about the Calculator% app.
Vaulty will not only store photos and videos away from parental spying eyes, but it also will snap a photo of anyone who tries to access the "vault" with the wrong password. Parents who find it on their teens' phones can conclude just one thing: Your kid is hiding things from you.
OK, so you've undoubtedly heard of Snapchat, an app that allows you to send a photo or video from your phone and determine how long the person on the other end can see the image until it self-destructs. But what you probably didn't know is that a lot of images from Snapchat are regularly posted to revenge porn sites, called "snap porn."
Snapchat may not be the #1 app used for sexting but that's not to say it isn't theprincipal appeal of the app for many: Users think their snaps will disappear and they are wrong. It's actually pretty easy to recover a Snap, take a screenshot of it and share it with others -- and by others, we mean porn sites. No parent wants to find a photo of their teen daughter or son on sites like snapperparty or sexting forum.
Not for nothing, Snapchat last year published a “Snapchat Safety Center” reminding kids that nude pictures were not allowed. “Don’t use Snapchat for any illegal shenanigans and if you’re under 18 or are Snapping with someone who might be: Keep your clothes on!” the company wrote.
The reality is, Snapchat is likely on your kid's phone. The best control you have (besides taking the phone away) is to just have a frank heart-to-heart about how there is no such thing as texts or photos that disappear and this is some down-and-dirty stuff that can come back to haunt them.
PETER BYRNE/PA ARCHIVE 5. Burn Note.
Like Snapchat, Burn Note is a messaging app that erases messages after a set period of time. Unlike Snapchat, this one is for text messages only, not photos or videos. Burn Note's display system shows just one word at a time, adding a sense of secrecy to the messages. Again, by promising a complete delete, kids could feel more comfortable revealing more than what they would do otherwise. And again, capturing a screenshot so that the message can be shared and lives forever, may be the app's Achilles' heel.
Even if your kid doesn't have the app and has no interest in reading super secret messages, she could unwittingly get involved: The app sends a Burn Note alert that she has a message waiting. Curiosity can kill the cat and an app like this could encourage cyberbullying when kids feel they can get away with things because there will be no record of it.
This is a real up-and-coming app, says online safety expert Lewis. It's an all-in-one mobile hub for chatting, sharing photos and videos; free texting and video calls too. But the devil is in the details. Things can get dicey with the hidden chat feature; users can decide how long their messages can last (two seconds or a week). But the biggest shock may come to your credit card: Your kid can rack up some hefty in-app charges on Line as well. While the app says that minors need their parents' permission to use it, there is no monitoring to ensure this takes place.
Bottom line: If your kid doesn't have a credit card number, you are controlling access to his in-app purchases.
Omegle provides users with a chance to converse online with random strangers. Is there anything that strikes fear into a parent's heart faster than that sentence?
We turn to our friends at Common Sense Media for this review: "Parents need to know that Omegle is an anonymous chat client with which users discuss anything they'd like. This can easily result in conversations that are filled with explicit sexual content, lewd language, and references to drugs, alcohol, and violence. Many users ask for personal data upfront, including location, age, and gender [ASL], something kids might supply (not realizing they don't have to). Adults wishing to chat anonymously may find use in this app, but kids should be kept far away."
'Nuff said. And it took us awhile to find a photo with language that was publishable.
Tinder is a popular app used for hooking-up and dating that allows users to "rate" profiles and locate hookups via GPS tracking. It is too easy for adults and minors to find one another. And the rating system can be used for cyber-bullying; a group of kids can target another kid and intentionally make his/her rating go down.
Blendr's 300 million users meet new people through GPS location services. You can message, exchange photos and videos, and rate the "hotness" of other users (encouraging your kid to engage in superficial values at best). But since there are no authentication requirements, sexual predators can contact minors and minors can hook up with adults -- and of course there is the sexting, notes ForEveryMom.com.
10. KiK Messenger.
KiK is an instant messaging app that lets users exchange videos, photos and sketches. Users can also create gifs. All well and good so far. Unfortunately, the term "sext buddy" has been replaced with "KiK buddy." Sex researcher Megan Maas, wrote on ForEveryMom.com that kids are using Reddit and other forums to place classified ads for sex by giving out their KiK usernames. KiK does not offer any parental controls and there is no way of authenticating users, thus making it easy for sexual predators to use the app to interact with minors.
11. Yik Yak.
Yik Yak is the "Twitter meets Reddit" app. It allows users to post text-only “Yaks” of up to 200 characters that can be viewed by the 500 Yakkers who are closest to the person who wrote the Yak, as determined by GPS tracking. The issue is that these other users are regularly exposed to a barage of sexually explicit content, profanity and even personal attacks-- anonymously, of course. It's also the app du jour for sending a bomb threat to your school. Yes, that has happened.
Elizabeth Long, an Atlanta teenager who was encouraged on Yik Yak to try harder to kill herself after her attempted suicide failed, led a Change.org drive to shut the app down. She wrote, "With the shield of anonymity, users [of Yik Yak] have zero accountability for their posts, and can openly spread rumors, call classmates hurtful names, send threats, or even tell someone to kill themselves -- and all of these things are happening."
This is one of the most popular social networking sites that is almost exclusively used by kids. It is a Q&A site where users can ask other users questions anonymously. The problem is that kids sometimes target one person and the questions get nasty. It is cyberbullying with no chance of ever getting caught. Ask.fm had been associated with nine documented cases of suicide in the U.S. and the U.K. through 2012. In 2014, its new owners pledged to crack down on bullying or said they would shut down the site.