Cultural Landmines Parents Should Avoid

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There’s been a plethora of news stories about former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s (D) prostituted young woman “Kristen,” but have you wondered how she came to sell her body? Do you wonder if your young daughter (or son) could follow a similar path? Did “Kristen” make one bad choice or were there a series of incidents that caused her to turn to a life of prostitution?

Was there a solid foundation established during her childhood on which to build her adult life?

Parents today have a very difficult task guiding their children through America’s dangerous cultural shoals; without strong character, children can flounder in the shallows or wreck their lives on the hidden or unavoidable boulders in their path. The following hazards pose potentially irreparable harm to youngsters, teens and young adults. These very bad choices and decisions leave visible as well as invisible scars on their bodies and souls.

Leave God out of the equation. When parents provide no moral instruction, and convey through teaching and example that right and wrong are matters of emotion and feeling, their children are left without the tools to navigate life. They bounce from one bad decision to the next, not knowing why or how to stop making disastrous choices. If parents provide no boundaries to protect their children, outside forces will have easy access to destroy them. Leave them unsupervised. An essential parental responsibility is to establish trust with the children in their care. When children are left without a moral compass, and when they are left unsupervised, they do not have to go looking for trouble. It will find them. Let them have Internet access in their bedrooms. The Internet age provides the means with which to learn almost anything – the bad as well as the good – even without the intent to research and without leaving home. The Internet also brings pedophiles, perverts and pornography right into the home. Unfortunately, social networking sites for teens such as Facebook and MySpace are littered with predators just waiting to make contact with vulnerable kids. Parents must know with whom their children interact online. Let them watch anything on television. Promiscuity and teen sex are common on television today (and not just on cable). Shows portray these topics as if everyone is doing it; children think it is no big deal. Rarely do the shows bring up the consequences of these behaviors, such as disease, teen pregnancy and emotional upheavals – it’s all just fun and games. The amount of violence shown is harmful, too, with the devaluation of life being the result. Let them dress like streetwalkers, and send them off to school. This one applies to the girls, but it impacts the boys as well. When little girls traipse around town in outfits exposing more skin than the latest Victoria’s Secret catalog, it is time to teach them that the attention they are attracting is the wrong kind and will never garner people’s respect. The old adage “less is more” does not apply here. Teach them comprehensive sex education, not abstinence. Recent news reports said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one-in-four teens has a sexually transmitted disease (STD). What the reports do not say is that the abstinent teens are STD-free. While abstinence works every time it is tried, the data seems to indicate that comprehensive sex ed is failing at least 25 percent of the time. Teach them self-esteem, not self-worth. Self-esteem is a reflection of how you feel about yourself, maybe in comparison to others. Self-esteem is temporal, depending on how you feel about yourself at the moment. Self-worth, however, is an inherent belief in your value as an individual; in Christianity it is measured by who you are in Christ – a constant. Don’t teach them how to be financially responsible. Instead of teaching them the value of earning something they want, just give them everything they desire no matter how temporal it may be or how ultimately harmful it might be to their future. Materialism, “I deserve it” attitudes and instant gratification are the hallmarks of today’s culture, and they create a breeding ground of vulnerable youth looking to meet their needs now and anyway they can. Teach them that personal responsibility is someone else’s problem. Society today is full of “quick fix” solutions, and children learn the “blame game” very early on; it is always somebody else’s mistake, problem or situation (think mortgage crisis). The less pain a child experiences from making a blunder, the easier it is to think that he or she can get away with anything. We wouldn’t want to have to suffer consequences or learn from our mistakes, would we? Be their friend, not their parent. Don’t worry about those pesky life lessons that children need to learn. As long as your children like you, that’s all that counts. With that attitude, you can count on your children learning about the world from their friends, television and the Internet. The only problem is that that they rarely learn about the real world. Instead, they get a distorted, glamorized, air-brushed version of life devoid of consequences and reality.

It should be clear that these ten landmines must be avoided, at all costs, because the costs will be borne by your children. Ultimately, too, society pays a high price if individual parents fail their children during their formative years.

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