I have been amazed by the response I have gotten to my last post. Although there are only 3 comments here, numerous people have emailed or approached me in person to discuss the things about which I wrote. Apparently, I hit a nerve. As I read back through it today, my first thought is that I shouldn't write on my blog when I have had more than 2 cups of coffee. Whew...talk about multiple cascading thoughts!! Beyond that observation, I notice the distinct note of judgment in my tone throughout the entry....a little holier than thou, perhaps?
But, what is the difference between moral outrage and being judgmental? Or is one just a fancy name for the other? I am far from being a perfect parent. In fact, like many of you, we are just making it up as we go along. What right do I have to judge the job that another parent is doing in raising their child? I certainly don't have all the answers, but perhaps sometimes it is important to state the questions out loud. That is really my intention here.
I think my concern is not so much that we are making poor choices as parents, but that we aren't making any choices at all. We are simply letting adolescence "happen" to our families. We are throwing our hands up in defeat and muttering "oh well" as we watch the children in our community crash and burn. As Christian parents, we certainly have the responsibility for proactively parenting our own teenagers, but what further responsibility do we have to the rest of those kids? The kids we, in all honesty, may want our children to avoid. Wouldn't they be among those Jesus is asking us to reach and, more importantly, to love? I am hopeful that many of the things our churches are doing are designed to do just that....love these kids and offer them a place of safety. Or maybe that is just my guilty conscience speaking.
Our kids are growing up in an exhibitionist/ voyeuristic culture. They are living their lives online for all the world to witness, whether we like it or not. From a parenting standpoint, we have a window to their world unlike any our parents had when we were growing up. All we have to do is get on their MySpace or Facebook sites. Or look through the text messages on their phone. Their AIM profiles alone can tell you all you would want to know about what they consider important. Yet, when I look at some of these kids' sites and profiles, I have to believe that none of the adults in their lives are reading it. If they were, wouldn't they intervene? Or is that naive of me? If we know the kid involved, do we have a responsibility to intervene ourselves?
I have recently gotten a Facebook site, even though my daughter has not gotten on Facebook yet. I hear that, while MySpace is popular with the middle schoolers, the high school kids all like Facebook. I have gone around looking at the Facebook sites of kids in our youth group at church. Our youth minister, being an extremely wise lady and a parent of a teenager, is way ahead of me and listed as a Friend on all their sites. I love peeking into their worlds and seeing what great kids they are. They aren't perfect....whatever that means...but they seem to be holding their own and staying true to themselves. It reassures me that many kids are on the right track. I know our youth group kids can fall prey to the same temptations as any other kids and I think, as parents, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves about how our kids are communicating and attempt to enter their world so that we know what they are facing.
Anyway, just some more thoughts on this new stage of my life....raising teenagers. I am SO grateful that my husband and I have the privilege of traveling this journey with our amazing friends from church and our larger community. Many of you who read this are parents to whom I look for guidance, perspective and support. We are in this together. With apologies to those of you who bristle at all things ever said by a Democrat (particularly one who may be our first woman president!) it does indeed take a village...I'm so glad you guys are part of my kids' village.