I read the blog, Teens Today With Vanessa VanPetten. The topics she writes on are pretty interesting and as a parent you can’t stay too informed.
Today her post was Teaching Your Teen How To Drink. Obviously that title is meant to draw your attention. And maybe shock you for a second or two. She proceeds to give you pointers on how to teach your kids to pretend they’re drinking so they really don’t have to when they’re at a party…where there’s drinking, obviously. Please read it so you will know what I’m talking about. Also read the comment that I left and the response from Vanessa…and my response back. LOL
As a Christian parent I was shocked that she was giving this advice. One of our jobs as parents, whether Christian or not, is to teach our children morals, integrity and to do what’s right. My mantra is: it all comes back to the family. You must set up a strong family relationship while they’re young so they’ll still listen to you when they get older. I have to believe that will happen. It’s a biblical promise. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it” How old is old? Does this mean when they are teenagers? It’s child-dependent, I’m sure.
As wrong as this advice immediately felt to me I could see both sides of the argument. I mean, if your kids are going to these parties you might as well equip them with tools to help them make it through alive. Right? If you trust your teen to do the right thing during these situations then you should help them through it. Right? It still just feels wrong. This is assuming it is ok for your kids to be hanging around this behavior. It’s also implying that you somewhat condone the behavior or at least accept that it’s going to happen no matter what.
But shouldn’t we be teaching our children that this behavior is wrong and that they shouldn’t want to be around it? Proverbs 23:20 says, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat.” If we’re teaching our children to love God, to try to be more like Him, and to try to live like Him then we’ll also be teaching them to desire what God desires, to want what He wants and to live the way He would have us live. Do you honestly think God wants our children at drinking parties?
On the other hand, the Bible also says we are to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16). And Paul says that he was made all things to all men that he might save some (1 Corinthians 9:22). So are we to train up our children to be the salt and light at a party so they might save some of their friends or at least be a good influence on them? Not really. You will have to judge for yourself how strong your child is. For most kids it’s much easier to be influenced badly than to be the one influencing for good. I wouldn’t want to allow my child to be in a situation they weren’t mature enough to handle. Vanessa, in her article, is basically telling us to teach our kids that it’s ok not be a good influence, just don’t be influenced badly. She wants our kids to hide the fact that they’re not drinking. So basically, to hide the good influence that they could be.
Let’s think about the lying aspect of the situation. “Thou shalt not lie.” It’s one of the big ten. We are to teach our children to have integrity. The definition of integrity, according to dictionary.com is “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” If we are teaching our kids how to pretend to drink we’re teaching them how to lie around their friends. We’re teaching our children that it’s ok to pretend to be someone they’re not. What, in any way, is good about this?
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
This is how we should be teaching and talking to our children. Talking to them about God and His ways constantly, in whatever situation we’re in. Not teaching them how to be compromisers.
The reason I struggle with this at all is because I have two children who are still very young. I don’t have teenagers. I’ve still got years to teach them Godly morals, biblical principles and integrity. I pray that they will never want to be in this kind of situation. But I don’t know that will happen. Will I need to use this tactic if all my training isn’t coming to fruition yet? I believe the Bible, so I believe that if I train them up correctly they will end up following my teaching. However they may not decide to follow that path while they are teenagers. All I can do is do my best to be a Godly example to them right now; be a mother who they look up to and who they want to emulate; be an influence for good, no, for the best, not for mediocrity. And pray like mad everyday.
What do you think? Are we leading our children to be mediocre at best if we teach them it’s ok to lie around their friends just to be liked? Is God pleased with this type of parenting? What are parents to do if they didn’t begin training their children while the children were young?