A Huge Lesson for Parents from This Week's Hearings
As I write these words, I’m streaming the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on a window of my desktop. What is shared today and how our elected leaders respond will have implications in our country for decades to come.
Given the significance of these proceedings, it seems that everyone has an opinion. Politicians, pundits, lawyers, women’s rights advocates, and the regular people on your Facebook feed all have a perspective.
You can probably find plenty of things to read about all the issues on the news sites and blogs of your choosing. But, for our purposes here, I want to encourage every parent to consider an entirely different perspective.
How does Judge Kavanaugh’s situation apply to YOUR kids?
If you are looking for an articulate opinion of who is right and who is wrong in this case, you’re in the wrong place. Lots of stories will be told over the next few days, but because the stories are so contradictory, we have no idea what the truth is.
I DO know that every woman’s claim of assault or harm should be heard. I also believe that Kavanaugh should be given a fair hearing without the presumption of guilt. Again, there are tons of details to consider and I’m sure you can find other articles that will examine them fully. This is not the place for that.
What I do wish to address is the reality that the choices we make in our younger years have a way of following us into adulthood.
As I reflect on nearly 30 years of ministry to families, I am sickened by the number of times that I have heard parents make excuses for their teenagers with an attitude of “boys will be boys” and a philosophy that young people should “sow their wild oats” and get it out of their system before they settle down into adulthood. It absolutely sickens me.
On the news, we have seen Brett Kavanaugh on TV portraying his 53-year-old self…a man of maturity, ethics, and faith.
We can also see self-proclaimed yearbook entries of his 18-year-old self. Here, you see a young man who made claims about excessive drinking (several references to kegs) and who was careless with the reputation of a female friend. Sure, this is probably simple swagger from a teenage kid trying to brag and look cool, but it doesn’t help his case today. Neither does his own recent admission to underage drinking.
The bottom line is that what Brett Kavanaugh did and said as a teenager is having an impact on his life, 35 years later.
So what is the lesson to you as a parent today?
It is simply that what your kids do now has huge potential to impact their lives in adulthood.
Kavanaugh’s circumstance reminds me of the family whose 28 year old son is listed as a sex offender because of an intimate moment with his girlfriend when they were teenagers. It reminds me of the countless young people I have counseled because of some form of unwanted sexual aggression from someone they were dating. It reminds me of all the young married couples who are trying to overcome all the sexual baggage from their pasts. They had hoped that marriage would solve their porn problems or instantly wash away the promiscuity from their college years, but it hasn’t.
All of this motivates me to continue to call parents to raise the bar for their kids.
We have to teach our teenage boys that it is possible to live lives of purity and chivalry…to treat all women with respect and to have zero tolerance for anyone who does not. We have to teach our teenage girls that they are beautifully made and that they have a voice. We have to teach all our kids that their sexuality is wonderful….but that it is also precious. They should carefully guard it (and guard others), not treating it carelessly as many in our culture are prone to do.
The stakes are far higher today than ever before.
Kavanaugh’s integrity and credibility are being undermined today by the testimonies of a few high school acquaintances and a yearbook page from 35 years ago. In today’s social media saturated world, where we can “google” anything about anybody’s past, what sort of impression are your kids making on the world? What will their digital footprint say about who they were….and who they are?
Most universities and employers now make a social media search a normal part of the recruiting process. They want to know who someone is beyond what they put on their official application. And while that photo from 5 years ago might make a teenager look carefree or funny or sexy, it has the potential to make a young adult look questionable in character. Just ask Judge Kavanaugh.
So what should you do as a parent? How can we help our kids to make wise choices today?
1. Expect a lot from your kids.
Raise the bar. Encourage your kids to go against the flow of the culture. Challenge them to live extraordinary lives that are selfless and courageous. Address foolish behavior tenaciously…especially those things that are damaging to others.
2. But leave grace for mistakes.
Your kids are not going to be perfect, just as you were not perfect. Set the bar high, but create a culture of grace where restoration is possible when someone in your family makes a boneheaded decision.
3. Eradicate “sow your wild oats” thinking from your family’s minds.
There is no basis in truth that young people will “get it out of their system.” If young people practice foolishness as teenagers/college students, at best, they will learn that it is normal. At worst, they will do something stupid that will impact their lives forever.
4. Encourage your kids to choose their friends wisely.
Even if they are striving for impeccable character, when they run with those who are not, their reputation can be impacted. And it is likely that their values will be compromised and weakened. One specific question that parents should ask: “Is the greek system at college worth it?” (Can of worms officially opened.)
5. Guard social media.
Instagram, Snapchat, and all the others are the private worlds where our kids interact in many of their relationships. But we must always assume that what they put online is public to all. For more detail, read this post about guarding your digital footprint.
6. Be intentional to teach your kids a better way.
Our kids will not learn character and selflessness and Godliness in a vacuum. They will learn much of what they see in us. But we must also take the time to teach them what it looks like to live their lives with wisdom. We have to talk about what it looks like to choose to be different than the world around them.
There’s help for parents who want to get this right.
We have created a few resources for teenage guys and girls that help parents to have these critical conversations with their kids. These tools have been specifically designed to share truths with young people in a way that mom and dad can then add their perspective.
Our ground-breaking book, The Talks, has helped more than 25,000 parents equip their kids to develop a healthy view of sex and relationships.
Our innovative resource for teen boys, The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness, has given thousands of guys the tools they need to make wise choices about porn, girls, and the direction of their lives.
Now, Meet Me in the Middle offers a God-focused perspective about 10 key issues that teen girls are facing. And it does it in a format that invites a girl’s father into the conversation.
Just ask any of the 10,000+ people who subscribe to our online content each month (or read our reviews on Amazon) and you’ll hear the same thing: I.N.F.O. for Families offers the practical tools families need to face the critical conversations of our day. Get your hands on the resources that will help your kids to get to adulthood with their character and relationships and reputation intact….