Answers to Family QuestionsHere you can find some of our most commonly asked questions answered by the author of Entrusted with a Child's Heart, Betsy Corning. Or you may choose to submit your own question by using the Contact Us tab at the top of the page - we will be glad to consider it for future posting!
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Answers to Family Questions - Entries tagged "Personal Convictions"
We have a 17 year old teen who has asked to start dating. The boy she likes is very nice, but she is unsure if he is a Christian. She argues that it is hard to have in-depth conversations if she’s never alone with him, but we are reluctant to give her the OK to go out with him if we don’t know if he’s a believer or not. What do you suggest?
- Concerned Mother
When your daughter reaches the age that you determine as fitting for her to date; be sure that you have also established clear delineations for dating, such as “how often," “how late,” “with whom” and so forth.
The “with whom” part is extremely important not only for the obvious immediate impact and implications on your daughter’s life but also for her future. Therefore, whether you hold the conviction that “dating is for the purpose of choosing a mate” (meaning that every suitor is evaluated as a potential spouse) or you hold the conviction that “dating is a testing ground for various relationships that eventually lead to choosing a spouse,” you want to have clear guidelines to keep your teen’s relational ship from succumbing to the heavy emotional waves that are sure to come during these dating years.
Certainly we want the best for our children, and as parents we are often the best objective voice of reason to them. We cannot place particular boundaries around their emotions but we can and must place guidelines and boundaries around their choices. They need to know that we have their optimal benefit in mind and to seek your approval before their heart engages in a relationship that you do not approve.
The Scriptures tell us (2 Corinthians 6:14) not to become unequally yoked with unbelievers, referring primarily to the marriage relationship, but we would not want to set up our teen to have a relationship that could eventually result in marriage to an unbeliever. Allowing a teen to dabble in relationships with unbelievers is playing with fire — no matter how “nice” he seems. A young man may seem nice, polite and all that, but does he hold the same standards as you do for your daughter in the areas of morality, purity, media choices, speech and so forth? An unbeliever simply will not. 1 Corinthians 15:33 warns us very directly, “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.” Being “nice” or “a great guy” falls desperately short of the godly young man who (while also young and susceptible to emotions/hormones) hopefully has your daughter’s best interest at heart and respects you as her parents. In other words, Christian kids need accountability, too!
Many young men interested in lovely young ladies will declare their belief in God thinking if they say the right words they will “win the prize.” This happens all too often, I am sad to say. Often young couples marry only to discover in time that they are unequally yoked.
Any worthy young suitor should be happy and willing to speak to a young lady’s father/parents for permission to date. It is not a private matter between the young man and your daughter. That argument should raise a red flag for you. His willingness to speak to you as the parents demonstrates his respect — or lack thereof — for you and your husband.
A person may refer to himself as a believer, but this falls short of a profession of faith in Christ. Any true believer has no qualms about sharing their faith or their testimony. In fact, it is the natural declaration of a person who has the Holy Spirit residing in them.
I once had a conversation with a close friend who was considering a relationship with a man. I asked her if he was a believer and she emphatically stated, “Yes!” Then I asked her to confirm that he was a born-again believer to which she replied, “Well, I don’t know about THAT!” “THAT” says it all. It cannot be both ways and you will be able to tell.
I would encourage you not to allow your daughter to date anyone who does not have a clear profession of faith in Christ as their Savior and Lord and a testimony of how they came to this faith. Even though he is young, you will want to know that he has developed convictions for his life and that he lives under the authority of God’s Word.
In the Entrusted with a Child’s Heart book, we refer to these indicators of faith as “vital signs of a true believer” (see pages 448-450 and 495-499). The Bible instructs us that we can evaluate a person’s spiritual life by their spiritual fruit.
Here are a several examples of how this works:
Having a good chat between Dad and the young man, before emotions are overly engaged is essential. Even if Dad says, “No” to a particular suitor and your daughter becomes distraught, hang tough. It is a precious and pure demonstration of a father’s leading, provision and protection over his daughter. Some day he will consent and will essentially transfer this responsibility to his new son-in-law. Don’t give in to the emotional pleadings of your daughter if you KNOW the relationship is not in her best interest.
- Does the young person profess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? True believers cannot help but speak of what the Lord means to them and what He is doing in their lives. Believers do not treat such matters as “private” or as “none of your business.”
- Does he seek out and enjoy the fellowship of other believers by attending church, youth group or other Christian fellowship? Or does he attempt to isolate your daughter and keep her from you, from her Christian friends, commitments, or devotional time?
- Does he exemplify godly character in his attitude and behavior? Does he demonstrate respect for you and your daughter by following your instructions or boundaries? Or is he dismissive of you and the standards you have instilled in your daughter?
- Does he have a track record and convictions for moral purity? Does he separate himself from the world’s value system and activities? Can he state his convictions to you? Or does he think that you are unrealistic, too rigid, out of touch or old-fashioned?
- Does he encourage your daughter’s relationship with you as her parents — or does he pull her away from you, encouraging your daughter to be sneaky or keep secrets? Is he drawing her into things that are compromising her relationship with you or her walk with the Lord? In other words, does he lead her in the paths of righteousness or cause her to stumble? At some point, you will be helping your daughter choose a man who will be her leader, provider and protector. Do you observe the potential for these things in this young man?
May the Lord bless your relationship as you grow together in directing your daughter down the path of making one of the most critical choices in her life. Show her how much you care for her and love her. And I pray that she will trust you as you seek the Lord in these decisions.
Top Tech Tips for Families?
This past spring, while speaking at a family conference, Dave and Betsy Corning met a dynamic couple named Robbie and Denise Grimes. They were so excited to hear that the Grimeses share the same passion for Scripture Memorization! In fact, their ministry, Higher Ground Family offers many biblical resources for families, such as a Family Devotional with Scripture Memory Songs, (coming out soon) and fun children’s DVDs that contain a biblical message.
Robbie also speaks at schools on the topic of modern technology. Since we frequently receive questions on this topic from parents, we asked Robbie to share his insights with us. We will pass on to our Entrusted blog readers five today and five next week.
It is such a challenge to keep on top of the latest technology advances and this is a source of real concern for many parents. For that reason, we are extremely grateful for Robbie’s expertise and for his willingness to share it with us.
Get in the game — your kids already are!
Robbie's Top Tech Tips for Families
- At a minimum, set the safe search settings in your browser or computer to “Block Inappropriate Content.” There are also accountability and filtering tools, like www.covenanteyes.com and www.netnanny.com. These filters and controls are helpful, but don’t rely fully on them. The Internet cannot be “childproofed.” That job is up to us as parents.
- Check social networking rules for the minimum age requirement, but also use your parental judgment to determine whether your child is educated and mature enough to handle this type of social interaction. Just because 13 is the minimum age for having a Facebook page, does not mean your child is ready to be a member of the Facebook community.
- Become a member and get to know the culture of the cyber-environments your children are interested in using before they join. Be sure they understand there will be an “open-door policy” with all technology they are using. They must understand you will be their “Friend” on Facebook and MySpace, will be following them on Twitter, and will be checking in on their other friends and the communication that is happening. Your children need to know you are there to help keep them safe.
- Utilize the parental controls that are available on your child’s cell phone. Most providers have options to limit the amount and times of usage and to block specific incoming and outgoing texts or calls. Certain plans also allow you to set up a list of approved callers who can call or send text messages to your child.
- Show your children positive ways to use technology. Model the use of an online Bible tool such as www.biblegateway.com or www.blueletterbible.org. Introduce them to a new educational game available on-line like www.funbrain.com, www.coolmath.com, www.exploratorium.com, or let the creative part of their brain grow by using a site like www.glogster.com.
- Stress the importance of security with the technology they are using. Children should NEVER submit any personal information online unless they’ve checked with you first. Some websites require an email address and first or last names. Explain the dangers of sharing usernames and passwords with others. Additionally, ensure that your computer software is up-to-date. This includes the updates for the operating system as well as a firewall and virus and spam protection. Some popular virus/spam programs are www.symantec.com, www.norton.com, and www.mcafee.com. A free virus/spamware program can be found at http://free.avg.com.
How do you handle sleepovers with friends who have siblings of the opposite sex? What rules or expectations do you lay down without offending the other family?
-Sleepless over Sleepovers
Think carefully whether you want to have your daughter (or son) in a position where their privacy or safety would be compromised. (Could this possibly be the situation here?) Sounds like this is your concern and so it is valid to prohibit the sleepover. As the parent, you have the responsibility to be informed about what will be taking place at the sleepover and who will be there. If you do not believe you are being truthfully informed, your answer is clear. Are you allowing your children to stay in the home of strangers or people you do not know well? You must keep the safety and privacy of your children as a priority over other concerns. If you feel uneasy about a situation, certainly do not subject your child to it.
Have family standards in regards to sleepovers so that your kids can answer these invitations in keeping with what your family convictions are and so that it is not a constant battle. Clearly many families will not have such convictions and that makes your parenting more challenging. It is easier when your friends hold the same convictions, but then that is the point of having your own family convictions and holding to them.
Evaluate the purpose of sleepovers. Is it an edifying activity for your child or even the best choice for their time? Your child may have great friends from a family that you know well and trust - and still the sleepover may not really be deemed a worthwhile activity. What types of media and entertainment will be available and what activities will be going on at the sleepover? Do they get enough sleep? Not likely. That’s the fun of it (for them.) They may rise to the occasion to meet the demands of the next day but the following day miss school. (Or was that just our house?)
For our family we decided upon an age when we would allow sleepovers to begin and an age when they would end. And of course, this presupposes our standards of knowing the parents, the plan for the evening, etc. This eliminated a great deal of problems regarding sleepovers. You must also decide if you want your children to be involved in sleepovers at all and if so, how many friends is a reasonable number to have overnight? Some of my friends have different standards for the ages they allow sleepovers. That is fine, choose your own and stick to them so your children know the standard for your family. Some kids have a special friend or cousins that may stay over regularly, but set family standards about what you will allow or not allow in regards to all of this and stick to them.
I can remember a time when someone invited one of my children to sleep over, but they didn’t really want to go because they were uncomfortable in their friend’s home. It wasn’t really a situation of safety or privacy but it is not uncommon for children to be sensitive to a variety of factors in an unfamiliar environment. Such factors may be how the parents interact, what goes on in the house, and even how it “smells” (because it is not “home”). This is not one of those times in which your children need to be “stretched”. Kids should not be coerced to stay where they feel uneasy.
Sleepovers are optional. As the parent, you can say, “He (or she) does not sleep well at sleepovers and you can agree to pick them up at a specific time, have them over to your house instead, or just say, in this case, “We don’t do sleepovers”.
For further discussion on the topic of sleepovers, see Entrusted with a Child’s Heart, page 401, and also Chapter 3, “Personal Convictions”.
Please Note: This
counsel is given from a distinctively biblical worldview, and therefore, is being
offered with the assumption that the reader has placed him or
herself under the authority of Scripture. Also, please remember that these answers are designed to give general parenting
advice and are not intended to give specific counsel to specific situations. If
you have extenuating circumstances, please seek the professional advice of
your pastor, physician, or counselor.
Is Secular Music Okay for Children?
Is it okay to expose our kids to secular music? They’re going to hear it anyway.
Dear Rock On,
While it is true that you will hear every type of music even at the grocery store these days, it may not be what you would choose for your own home. Taste in music is extremely subjective, but we want to be discerning – especially about the lyrics. All secular music is not necessarily negative but that to which your children are repeatedly exposed will naturally influence their taste in music and their appetite for it.
As parents, we must be aware of the power music can have to elicit emotion in our children -- both positive and negative. Steady diets of anything which produces negative emotions such as anger, violence, or illicit sexual desire should of course be avoided. But other emotional influences can be more subtle, such as music and lyrics which involve longing for the love of a boyfriend/ girlfriend or the sadness over losing one. Over time, this can begin to stir up a longing or feeling in our children that they NEED something they don’t have (and shouldn’t have for a long time).
So be watchful and aware of what you are allowing, knowing that as
their parent, you are the moderator. There are many great tools
available online, like this one,
to help you know more about popular music. Especially as your children
get older and want to select music for their iPods, etc., be aware of
what they are listening to and teach them to make wise choices.
Parents set the boundaries, and need to put their foot down when their children cross their line. In other words, don’t allow your kids to succumb to any influence that you deem negative for them. Also, be aware of the fact that the type of music tweens and teens gravitate toward can be an indicator of a deeper need, or the condition of their heart. In those cases, the music is secondary to the root cause, which needs to be addressed.
It is a good idea for parents to talk about these things and develop personal convictions while their children are young. For example how much time will children be allowed to listen to their iPod? Will they be allowed to listen to them in the car? How will you go about monitoring your children’s choices? These are a few of the many considerations you need to make as parents.
Also, consider the purpose of your music choices. Teach your children true worship; every other music choice has a different purpose. Is the purpose fun, or for worship? Can you listen to your music with a clear conscience? The one thing we likely all agree on is that the highest purpose of music is to worship God. So be intentional in exposing your children to worshipful music at a young age, and remember to major on the majors and minor on the minors.
Music has a tremendous influence on people. You may be thinking, “It’s only music,” but in fact, research shows that it is the number one influence in the life of a teen. What kind of influence do you want that music to be?
“For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.” Romans 16:19
For more information on this topic, see Entrusted with a Child’s Heart, page 400.
Please Note: This counsel is given from a distinctively biblical
worldview, and therefore, is being offered with the assumption that the
reader has placed him or herself under the authority of Scripture. Also,
please remember that these answers are designed to give general
parenting advice and are not intended to give specific counsel to
specific situations. If you have extenuating circumstances, please seek
the professional advice of your pastor, physician, or counselor.
Applying Biblical Truth to Everyday Life
© Entrusted Ministries