I see a lot of articles in the newspaper these days about teenagers and their diet. There are articles decrying their lack of nutrition, citing fast food lunches and hurried dinners and numerous sugary soft drinks consumed during the day. There are articles about childhood obesity, as well as those about eating disorders. While these are very important issues facing American adolescents today, there is another issue that I feel is even more critical. We may be failing our teens in what we are feeding them physically, but I have to wonder, what are feeding them spiritually?
When I enter a bookstore or library and browse the Teen/Young Adult section, I see one predominant theme…darkness. I see books about vampires, werewolves and other creatures of the night. I see books about teen sexuality and suicide. When I open the newspaper and see the movies that are being marketed to our adolescents, I see more of the same. When visiting the videogame section, I see titles full of violence and sex, marketed as fun and games. If I dare to turn on the television during prime time (which I rarely do!), there are TV shows full of teens in immoral relationships, drinking and making foolish choices. And we wonder why the teen pregnancy rate is so high, or why so many teens commit suicide each year, or why so many are killed in drunk driving accidents.
Did you know that the word teenager has only truly been in use since just after World War II? Before that time, there were two classes of people—adults, and children. You were either one or the other. When you were no longer a child, you were an adult (a young one, no doubt, but still an adult). When you were a child, you were being trained to be one thing…an adult, capable of providing for a family or running a home. There was no such thing as the long years of adolescence (which social scientists now say are sometimes lasting even into the 30’s), where you weren’t expected to be productive or make wise choices. Young people did not spend hours playing violent games or reading material containing dark and ungodly images. Instead, they worked, studied and were taught by their parents how to become adults. Of course, they had fun, too, but fun was not their primary reason for living.
In our house, we try to raise young adults, and not teenagers. While many look on us as odd, or overprotective, you will not find the latest vampire books being consumed in our house, nor will we be attending the latest teen culture movies. We also try to avoid treating our children as “teenagers”. Our oldest child, our sixteen-year old daughter, refers to herself as a young adult. She has a job, works hard at her studies, and plans for her future…as an adult. She helps me around the house and chooses carefully what reading material and movies she places in her mind. We try to give her a steady diet of Christian worldview, godly influence (by godly people, mostly adults) and to teach her what she needs to know to be an adult who can have great influence for Christ.
What are you feeding the children in your house? Are you carefully choosing what goes into their hearts and their minds? Are you giving them deep spiritual truths to sustain them as they become adults? Are you growing young adults…or just teenagers?
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