My 17 year old was saved two years ago. Ever since we have struggled with her non-Christian friends that she insists on seeing. She goes to a small Christian HS and does not see her classmates out of school because it is in another county. Her non-saved friends listen to rap music. I have tried unsuccessfully to warn her of the perils of this music but to no avail. I still find a CD or a song on her iPod that has unacceptable lyrics. I am at my wits end with fighting this battle. Any advice?
To no avail? How do you know that?
As our children get closer to being the age where they are legally able to make their own choices, we transition from controlling them, to teaching and influencing them.
Don’t think your warnings “are to no avail”. She hears you but on the other hand she simply hasn’t reached a point of conviction or spiritual maturity… and as she is nearing adulthood, that becomes more the work of the Spirit, and less the work of parents.
One thing I’ve learned with six kids, and advising countless parents with teenagers, it is that we have to wise about when to plant seeds, warn, and speak the truth in love… but NOT attempt to simply remain in “protective control” as they near adulthood.
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not talking about being permissive or lenient towards sin or immorality but your role needs to transition from “controller-protector” to “mentor-coach-teacher”. Part of growing up is experiencing bad choices and the subsequent consequences. Part of growing up as a parent is allowing this process to occur in a wise and Godly manner.
You made bad choices when you were young (have you stopped yet?), probably in spite of your parents warning or dismay. So did I. It’s a natural part of parenting and growing up. Again, that does NOT mean you take sin lightly, or become permissive, nor do you enable the sin (ie. you don’t buy the inappropriate music for them)… but it does mean that you recognize the “reigns of power” are switching from earthly father to Heavenly Father in your adult-child’s life.
Warn, but don’t nag. Teach but don’t lecture. Plant seeds without digging up the heart.
It’s easier said than done, I’ll grant you that. It’s tough watching your kids do things that you know are going to hurt them no matter how lovingly or fervantly you warn them about it. I have a situation right now with one of my adult children where they are doing something terribly destructive despite just about EVERY person around them warning them. I really struggle with taking my own advice that I’m giving you right now. They have chosen to learn the hard way – and they will. I find myself praying the lesson will come hard and fast, rather than long and slow. Sometimes that’s what we have to do. It’s part of realizing, and recognizing, them as emerging adults instead of dependent children.
Start transitioning your parenting from “protective-control-constraint” to “mentor-teach”, warn when necessary, and plant seeds (putting God’s Word in their heart through your conversations and actions).
Now, my down-and-dirty, how do you handle it on a day-to-day basis advice? Keep planting seeds about how destructive that kind of music is spiritually, and simply tell her when you find those songs on her iPod, you will make her delete them. No arguing, lecturing, fighting… just calm and cool:
“Honey, please delete these songs. They do not honor God. What goes in your head, goes to your heart.”
That’s it. No more need to “fight a battle” (except in prayer). She knows. Pray that God will convict her. Trust God to “father” her. As she grows up, she will resent your control, and respect your influence. This is natural, and right. Parents do well to learn this lesson.