My wife and I have been receiving a copy of the Focus on the Family’s monthly newsletter for a short period of time. In January’s issue there is an article titled, “All in Due Time: Is your child growing up too fast?” by Jeanette Gardner Littleton.
It is a great article that discusses the issues surrounding what materials (such as cell phones, cars, and computers) we give and what privileges (such as Internet use, make-up, and dating) we allow our children.
Jeanette basically asks the questions, “When should we give and allow our children to have and experience certain things?” Is it appropriate for our children to have cell phones? If so, when? Does an 8 year old need one? What about driving. Do our children automatically deserve a car and driving privileges at the age of 16? How about computers? Should our children be allowed to have one in their room with an Internet connection? Should they be allowed to have participate in on-line communities such as Myspace or Facebook? What about jobs and personal bank accounts? Also, should they have a television in their room with an extensive cable connection that gives them access to hundreds of channels and programs?
These questions simply scratch the surface of the issue.
Jeanette provides the following questions for us to consider when considering giving our children things or allowing them certain privileges:
1. What is the reason for letting my child have or do this?
2. Is my child ready for this responsibility?
3. Am I ready for this responsibility?
4. Will jumping too soon to a particular life stage send unintended messages to my child about self-image or materialism?
What Jeanette does a great job at is helping us parents ask the right questions prior to making any purchases or allowing our children new privileges. What I disagree with Jeanette on his her emphasis on a child’s age and not their maturation. Yes, she sparingly alludes to ones maturation, but her overwhelming concern is about their age.
Honestly, I believe that we should only consider purchasing our children new items or allowing them new privileges based upon their maturation and not their age. For example, Jesus Christ said, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much” (Luke 16.10). So, if our children have proven to be unfaithful in the small things they have been given or the limited privileges they have been allowed, what makes us think they will all of a sudden be faithful with more expensive items or unlimited privileges?
For example, if our children from an early age have consistently lied about where they were going to be when playing outside with their friends, why should we allow them to go outside of the neighborhood or allow them to go to their “friends” house overnight when they get older? How can we entrust them with a great privilege if they have been unfaithful in a lesser one?
What about this one. What if our children don;t really understand life, death, and personal responsibility? Do we give them keys to a car to drive around in with their friends at the age of 16? What if they don’t even take care of their bedroom? Do we honestly believe they will take care of a car?
Another issue is dating. When is it ever appropriate? How about never. Since this matter is not of greatest concern here I will not go at length why I believe what I believe (if you would like me to just let me know). However, if you are a parent reading this and you allow your children to date, then all that I ask is use some common sense.
For instance, don’t allow your teenage son or daughter to spend much time, even if any, together alone. I remember growing-up and my friends parents never ever supervising their time together with the opposite sex. This is probably one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. When is it ever a good thing to allow a teenage boy and girl, who are expressing raging hormones to spend unsupervised time together, especially in the dark, by themselves, all alone? All we can expect at this point and time is for lust to develop and sexual sin to occur.
Why should we allow children to become emotionally attached to another person who they cannot commit to in a marital sense. For those with sons, consider this. If your son is incapable of giving his life as a sacrifice to someone else, leading another person or family in the Scriptures, or capable of providing for them, then why would you allow him to become involved in a relationship with a girl? (based in part on reading through Ephesians 5 and 6).
Ultimately you have to monitor their time together, level of commitment, emotional involvement, and maturity.
Nevertheless, when we are considering purchasing our children a new item or allowing them new privileges, then take a moment and ask the above questions. Most importantly, take time and pray and search the Scriptures to see what God’s Word says about it.