The 2000 Baltimore Ravens Defense has been named one of the greatest defenses of all time. During the 2000 season on their way to Super Bowl XXXV, their defense allowed a total of 165 points and 970 total rushing yards all season. Wrap your mind around that for a second. That’s an average of 10.3 points a game and 60.6 yards rushing a game. Both of these are NFL records. They won the Super Bowl with the first-ranked defense in the NFL and the 23rd ranked offense.
It’s a good thing to have a great defense. Parenting in this culture is the same way. But how do we do it right?
Question: Do you see your child as someone to protect or someone to prepare?
I recently wrote accept your influence to help us dads start thinking about how we can and should shape our kids—instead of letting culture do it. And, if you haven't already, check out interview I did with Kent for more details about the Culture Wars Field Guide.
Preparing their minds for school
First Peter 3:15 (CSB) says, “but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that is in you.” I remember sending my first two to Kindergarten. A sad day for sure. My little angels growing up and going to school to spend more time away from their parents than ever.
But that day paled in comparison to the day I sent them to middle school. I knew what was awaiting them. I knew the challenge and the culture that would probably be new to them. They weren’t blind to it, but I would assume the culture was just different than what they were used to. Soon, I’ll be sending another child to middle school. It’s just as terrifying.
One aspect of the family is that we are much like the church—we are a sent people. God didn’t bless me with my children to simply shelter them from the world. As a dad, I’m encouraged to lead them to Jesus, disciple them and send them out with the Gospel. Part of sending them out is understanding what we are sending them to. The culture is an ever-shifting landscape and deserving of our attention as parents. We can’t blindly send them out into a world where the culture is full of snares and traps.
Repeat after me. “Boundaries are our friends.” I think we need to keep in mind our children have been entrusted to us. So, setting up boundaries for them and with them is a wise choice.
Can I just give you quick permission: you don’t have to be your child’s best friend. You’ll find out quickly telling them what they shouldn’t do will result in what can only be described as a sweet reminder of telling your toddler “no” when he or she wants more Goldfish Crackers. You know what I’m talking about.
When your children are young you set boundaries to protect them from themselves. As they get older, you set boundaries to protect them from themselves and others. Not everyone has your child’s best interest at heart. The good thing is as they get older they can help you make boundaries. Through your discipleship and guidance, you’ve brought them to a point where they can help you. Simply bring them into the conversation in order to help them take ownership in their lives and culture. I say this in hope to minimize the meltdowns that could ensue.
“You don’t have to be your child’s best friend.”
Music, movies, television and the internet, oh my!
These aren’t inherently bad, but they definitely can be. I think it’s safe to say all of these have dangers we want our children to avoid. And, we need to make sure we prepare them for such dangers.
In all my years of student ministry, there wasn’t a more polarizing discussion to have with students than the music they listened to. If there was a stronghold in their lives it was music. I would dare say if I had this conversation with you some walls might go up. We just don’t want to give it up. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know there is music that we may love that we know our kids shouldn’t listen to because the content does not build them or others up.
I can remember sitting in my family’s conversion van after just purchasing a new CD (remember CD’s?). As I was opening it up there was a warning label on it that I had never seen before. I promptly asked my parents what the word “explicit” meant. My mom’s “WHAT?!?” told me everything I needed to know. Lucky for me, it was on the brand-new DC Talk album and it said, “Explicit Christian Content.” They were clever, but my mom didn’t think so.
She did the right thing. She knew the boundaries and she wasn’t going to bend. There was absolutely no way I was going to get away with getting a CD with explicit lyrics. There’s no way I’m allowing my children to listen to music on their phones with explicit content. They know that, and I know that. That’s not a decision we had to come to together. That decision is me being their father and protecting them as best I can.
TV and movies have their own pitfalls. It’s hard for my girls to hear their friends talk about shows and movies they watch that I know aren’t appropriate for their eyes and minds. They don’t always understand why I won’t let them watch it, but that doesn’t stop them from listening to their dad—because they know I want the best for them. I’m not saying it’s not a struggle sometimes, and I know it will only get more difficult from this point forward, but I feel like we’ve laid a foundation that will allow them to discern that which is good for them and that which is bad.
Media is one of those monsters with multiple arms, as dads we must be on guard at all times to help our children navigate the craziness and make the wise choices. Find ways to come alongside your children and talk about boundaries with the current media landscape.
The danger of social media
Let me preface this with saying social media is an option—it’s not a necessity. It doesn’t matter whether it’s facebook, instagram, twitter, snapchat or one of the 500 other platforms, if you want your child to have any of these apps, then you need to make the effort to get to know what they are and how they can be used.
I also suggest if you allow your children to have these apps then you need to have them as well. Social media platforms are digital playgrounds and I encourage you to not let your children play alone. We lose the culture war with our children if we say, “Oh, I don’t know anything about social media. I don’t know what my kids do on that stuff.”
Do you remember your parents starting a conversation with the words, “When I was a kid we didn’t have video games.”? That’s how I feel about social media. Pick a platform—I’m older than all of them. The introduction of social media has brought a whole new gambit of obstacles for Generation Z. It’s also brought new obstacles to the surface for their parents. It can all be confusing because each platform carries its own danger—so make yourself aware of the platform your child is interested in—before you allow access. Then, if you decide to let them use it—be diligent about what’s happening.
To say you need boundaries for your children in today’s culture is an understatement. It’s up to you to guard their minds and their hearts—until they learn to do this for themselves. My pastor puts it this way, “Would you allow your child to stay upstairs in a room full of vipers?”
There are vipers all over the internet, TV, music, movies and social media. Don’t let it go unsupervised. Make boundaries and walk them through it. Every media platform has pornography attached to it because it is such an effective tool of the enemy. Some things in life require you to hover and be invasive—this is one of those things.
Let your family know this is a non-negotiable and explain the fun, but don’t leave out the danger. It’s up to you, as the parent, to be vigilant here. Build a strong defense when it comes to school, setting boundaries, entertainment and social media. But more importantly, shepherd your child such that, they understand the why behind the boundaries. If we parent from ONLY a list of no’s, we will lose the culture war with our kids. So let’s have a great offense too.
Question: Have you set boundaries for your children? Take some time to jot these down somewhere and talk about them with your spouse and your children. Tell us some of your boundaries in the comments section below, tweet us @manhoodjourney or you can always email us.
About the author > Jarred A. Morgan, M. A.
Jarred and his wife Jennifer have four daughters and live in Knoxville, TN. He serves as the Creative Arts and Communications Pastor at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church and previously served in student ministry for 18 years. Jarred received his Master of Arts from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is an avid Vanderbilt fan and has recently made the switch from American football to real fütbol. Learn more about Jarred here and grab his Field Guide Culture Wars.
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