My friend’s son was a 9th grader when a girl suddenly began inserting herself into his life in a big way. She came to his games, invited herself over, sent him texts (lots of texts). She was everywhere. My friend became concerned by how much her son was enjoying the attention of this cute, flirty girl.
Another friend’s daughter was in eighth grade when boy from school who had ‘gone out’ with virtually every other girl, now became fixated on her–the last hold out. He would say flattering things, hang out at her locker, and sent her texts (lots of texts). My friend was concerned by how much her daughter was enjoying the attention of this cute, flirty boy.
My mom-friends worry about these flirty kids circling around their precious teens like vultures. And rightly so! How quickly a young person can be pulled into poor, emotionally-based decisions. Flattery serves as the grease on a straight chute to pain and devastation.
These persistent, flirty teens are trying to meet deep needs of their own. They are relational consumers, trying desperately to fill themselves up with their latest conquest. These are the younger brothers and sisters of the woman spoken of in Proverbs 7:
So how do we help our kids? What can we do?
We warn them. We tell him to stay away from that flirty girl. We warn her about that boy who has dated everyone else–about his hidden agenda for conquest. We shout our wisdom from the rooftops. We whisper it quietly at their bedside. We love them well by helping them see what we see.
But, will our kids listen to wisdom? Will he lay aside the butterflies he feels? Will she delete his texts and focus on the message from her parents? To answer that, it’s helpful to go back a few years:
- When he threw a tantrum at age two, was he allowed to go wherever his emotions led him? Or where there boundaries and firmness?
- When she was told at age three to stay in bed, was she permitted to get up with no consequences?
- When he was told at age four to not to play in the woods, did he listen? Was he punished when he disobeyed?
- When she was six, did she learn to be respectful and not interrupt, no matter how grand the story was?
- When he was told at age ten to do his homework carefully, even when he wanted to rush outside to play, did he listen?
Kids don’t suddenly begin listening to wisdom and deferring to their parents for the first time when they turn thirteen. This is a pattern that is built over the years.
Now, if you (like me!!) had to answer no to one or more of the questions listed above, don’t lose heart. Today is the starting place for tomorrow. But let’s be diligent today because we have an eye on tomorrow. There are snares and trap doors and slippery slopes lining the halls of our middle schools and high schools–even the ones with ‘Christian’ above the door. Let’s give our kids the advantage of having an ear trained to hear our voices. Let’s help them build the pattern of listening, not just to their emotions, but to wisdom.