We received a letter in the mail a year and a half ago from our local library. It was a letter inviting my then-nine-year-old daughter to join the library’s Tween Council. My first thought was, “Am I even old enough to be the parent of a TWEEN?”
We have spent a lot of time pouring ourselves into our children and investing in their lives. So, with that foundation in place, maybe I shouldn’t have shudders running up and down my spine at the thought of having a tween. But, honestly, I kinda do.
The influence of the world seems really strong sometimes, especially with how easy it is for social media to infiltrate our homes. There is nothing new under the sun, apparently, but with modern technology, hand-held devices, and the Internet, it sure seems like there’s a lot of new stuff out there for parents in the 21st Century to have to deal with.
We have not said yes to the iPod yet, even though our oldest daughter has been saving her allowance for a long time, waiting for us to relent. At some point, with many limitations and boundaries in place, we will likely allow her to purchase one.
With new ways for worldly influences to seep into our homes, it is now more important than ever to cultivate family identity. As homeschoolers, we have a lot more time with our kids to do this, but there is no guarantee of safety just because we homeschool, and strong families never develop in a vacuum. Every family should be intentional about reaching their children’s hearts and cultivating a strong home culture.
“If we fill up our kids with love, perspective, and wisdom, when they navigate the culture at large, it does not impact them as much. Kids are prepared to respond to the world’s alternative offers,” says Marianne Miller in her book, The Gift of Enough.
What offers will the world make to our kids? Will they be looking for a better offer when that offer comes? Or, will they be so full and happy with their home life, that those offers won’t hold as much sway?
I think there are three ways to make sure our home culture is strong.
1) Our kids should know that they are unconditionally loved. In The Gift of Enough Miller asks if our kids know that there is nothing they can do, or not do, to make us love them more or less. They should know that they are precious and valued for who they are, and loved just as they are. No exceptions. Our homes should be a place of refuge. It won’t be that for our kids if they think our love is conditional.
2) Our kids should be given a moral anchor. We should lead our kids to an understanding of truth. Again, as homeschoolers, we have so many wonderful opportunities to do this every day at home.
3) We should be purposeful about making positive memories with our kids. When families make time to play together and enjoy each other’s company, they forge strong family bonds. In times of crisis, if kids feel close to their parents, they will open up to their parents and seek their counsel.
I have known families who have read a lot of scriptures to their kids and done a lot of family devotions, but the kids can’t wait to leave home. I wonder if things for those families had been different had they spent more time having fun with each other. Those kids know truth, but they don’t care to listen to their parents because they don’t feel close to them.
It seems like families who place high priority on having fun together, as well as teaching truth to their kids, are stronger.
So, is it more important to read the Bible to our kids or play games with them? Thankfully, those two things are not mutually exclusive! Both are important.
We have the power to create a culture at home that is significantly stronger than the one outside. We must keep our influence, or else our culture will inform our kids and tell them who they are. We do not have to surrender our family’s strong influence to culture, if our kids’ needs for security and significance are already met at home.
Families who pray together and play together stay together.