The American culture is possibly the most overlooked contributor to the problems that teens face today. In fact, I meet parents all the time that are almost completely unaware of the influential power of today’s culture.
As a Christian parent, it is vital that you understand the American culture. If you don’t, you will not know how to effectively communicate with your teen and help him effectively navigate it with his own biblical worldview intact. In my eighteen years of helping parents in crisis with troubled teens, I have identified four areas of today’s culture that will negatively influence your teen most.
This post is only a brief overview of a bigger picture. My intention is to give you a thirty thousand foot view of the many facets of our culture that could influence your teen in a negative way. I also hope that you will continue to do more extensive research in these four areas.
The most important and overlooked area concerning today’s culture is the subject of worldview. Parents must be aware that the American culture influences our teen’s and answers their questions through a postmodern worldview. It provides them with the illusion that truth is relative, and that moral absolutes do not exist. I speak extensively on this subject on my radio broadcast License to Parent, in the episode “Understanding a Postmodern Worldview.”
Social Media and texting are quickly becoming the primary mode of communication and gathering and forming ideas for today’s teens. By eliminating the challenges that face-to-face socialization brings, today’s teen’s are losing the ability to properly handle social situations. In addition, as a consequence, their ability to effectively communicate suffers immensely. While social media has its benefits, and is not inherently a bad thing, you must make yourself aware of the dangers of its misuse and help your teen develop appropriate boundaries. In addition, take the time to help your teen learn to correctly work thorough the conflicts that true socialization brings about.
Today’s culture is enamored with entertainment. All you have to do is turn on the TV, or listen to what is on the radio to get a glimpse of how demoralizing America’s entertainment is. It’s important that you do your homework to know and keep up with what your kids are being exposed to regularly. Entertainment is 24/7; so, without the proper knowledge, boundaries, and discipline to help guide your teen through the culture’s entertainment barrage, he is much more likely to fall prey to the negative influences and consequences of today’s entertainment glut. Music is arguably the most overlooked of all the entertainment assaults. Though most parents find much of today’s music offensive and dangerous, very few know just how dangerous it actually is. Unfortunately, too many parents are being entertained by virtually the same music their kids are. Some great tools for gaining insight and resources in these issues are Center for Parent/Youth Understanding and Media Talk 101.
Another subject that definitely needs to be addressed is the parent/child relationship. To put it bluntly, too often teens feel abandoned by their parents. Workaholism, addiction, digital distractions, hobbies, and other activities and vices have created a world that leaves little margin for thought and intimacy in relationships. There is an old saying, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” Parents must understand that teens live in a culture where they and their peers have largely been abandoned. This is why so many teens value even the weakest and most destructive peer to peer relationships. Their thinking is that any relationship is better than no relationship. Parents would do well to make sure that their families take the steps necessary to create safe and secure relationships that their children can depend on. This starts with the husband/wife relationship and then the parent/child relationship. Chip Ingram of Living on the Edge has an excellent small group curriculum “House or Home” that will challenge families to grow in their relationships.
Today’s culture provides families with a million and one different obstacles. If you can develop an understanding of the culture we live in and these four most influential areas, then you will be better equipped to provide your teen with a safe and secure home.
What are some other areas that you have encountered in today’s culture?