The gift of counter-pressure

On April 10, 1963, the nuclear attack submarine Thresher was no more. Its deep-dive trials southeast of Cape Cod came to a cataclysmic end and all 129 men aboard perished in 8,400 feet of water. The nuclear reactor probably shorted out and the sub did not have enough power to stop itself from sinking to the bottom and getting crushed by massive water pressure.  It was a tragedy.

It’s interesting to note that while a state-of-the-art submarine was crushed under immense pressure, there were thinly-scaled fish happily swimming around the accident site.  How is that possible?  Because the pressure inside the sea creatures was as great as the water pressure outside them.  They were equipped to withstand their environment.

What a great parenting parable.  Our goal is to make our children so full of faith and happiness on the inside that they won’t get crushed under enormous peer and media pressure on the outside.  We need to give them the gift of counter-pressure.

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Modesty

What does modesty mean?  That is a good question to ask your sons and daughters.  It is especially good to address this if you have a pre-teen daughter.  “All the girls at school are wearing these, why can’t I?”… “It’s my body; shouldn’t I decide what to put on it?”  These questions reflect the timeless struggle between teen girls and their parents over the issue of modesty. This issue is more critical than ever in today’s society, where pre-teens are encouraged by the media and peers to act and dress years older than they actually are. Everywhere you look, young girls – whether in real life, on television, or in advertisements – are dressed in ways that emphasize their sexuality and, to be blunt, degrade the value of female character.  This makes for a good conversation and you might be surprised on how much your daughters agree with you.  They just need to hear it.

Planting a moral compass

We want to be liked. We want to fit in. We want to be invited. We want to do what others are doing. Well, so do our children. And they’re especially vulnerable during their impressionable teen years – a  time when they are seeking their identity as a person. So we need to show our children, by example, how to stand against what is wrong and stand for what is right… no matter what others may think or say.

And we need to plant a moral compass in our children that will help them safely find their way through this sometimes dangerous jungle called life. That is our job as parents.

What happens if my child is picked on?

We all remember being in junior high and kids tormenting us on the way we dressed or the zits that surfaced on our face.  Well, nothing’s changed since then.  If anything, things have gotten worse.  At some point, your kids will be singled out and made fun of.  And it will hurt.  So, as a parent, there are a few things you can do.

First, share with your children that getting teased is a normal part of growing up and that you went through it and survived. Then, tell them that the person giving them grief is probably insecure and only thrives on putting others down. Finally, and most importantly, make sure you reinforce over and over to your child how much you love them, and reiterate all the positive things about them

Are you protecting their heart too?

Most parents are very careful to protect their children from physical harm – like running into a busy street.  But what about protecting their hearts?  Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”  In other words, be careful what gets into your child’s heart because it’s the reservoir from which everything flows.  It’s amazing to me how we’ll let our kids watch stuff – like sex and violence – on TV that we’d never allow to be done in our living room.

So if you want good things to flow from your child’s life, protect the source… their heart.

Do you know your child’s friends?

We are fully into the second half of the school year.  So do you know the answer to the following questions: who are your kids hanging out with?  Who do they spend the most time with?  Who do they talk to on the phone the most?  Who are the three people they text the most?  Who are their Facebook friends? An involved parent will know the answers to those questions.  And studies show that involved parents can help keep their kids away from drugs and drinking.

Do you have rules for dating?

If your kids are approaching those teenage dating years, let them know well in advance what’s expected from them.  But first, you have to decide what your game plan is.  You may want to consider only having your children group date until they’re a certain age, having your child’s boyfriend or girlfriend over to your house often so you really get to know them, and setting a reasonable curfew hour.

You’ll find it much easier to get all these rules set down ahead of time – before your kids fall “madly in love.”