Parenting Help

Do You Care About Your Children? 

A mother told me she was worried about her son’s choices in music.

He continued to listen to his music after she and her husband expressed their displeasure. She didn’t know what his musical choices were, but the posters on the wall of his room were “gross, and the music sounded like the pit of hell.”

From the mother’s descriptions, she had every right to be concerned. Yet when I asked for specifics about her son’s music and his other entertainment, she proudly stated she and her husband were completely naive about his entertainment choices. She didn’t want nor did she see a need to become familiar with his entertainment. “Why should I? Isn’t it enough to know it’s gross? I just want him to turn it off!”

I responded with an illustration.

Let’s say you’re totally committed to your job. You work hard from early morning to late at night. You really enjoy your job, so the long hours are no problem. It doesn’t matter what the job is; you could be a salesperson, teacher, janitor, engineer, or stay-at-home mom. You’re really into it because a job well done brings you satisfaction and the feeling that you’re making a difference.

Your occupation often identifies who you are as a person. When you’re introduced, you may be identified by your occupation. You take pride in that label because it gives you a feeling of worth.

But how would you feel if your spouse didn’t know what you did for a living? He didn’t even care to find out where you go every morning. The one who proclaimed undying love for you not only doesn’t know what you do all day, he shows no interest in wanting to know. He has no desire to know what motivates you.

Stop for a moment and seriously think if this scenario were true, would you feel your spouse cared about you?

Invariably, when I ask this question during my parenting seminar, the answer is a resounding no. How could people say they love their spouse and not care to know what consumes their life? That’s not loving.

Take that response and compare it with your response to your children‘s entertainment. They are consumed by it. They listen to their music, watch TV, and play video games day and night. The Internet and text messaging consumes the rest of their days. Not just five days a week, but seven. Not just fifty weeks a year, with a two-week vacation. They’re really into it fifty-two weeks a year, and they never miss a day of “work.” The average child entertains himself with entertainment media more than forty-seven-and-a-half hours a week, fifty-two weeks a year. That’s more than a full-time job.

They go to all the latest movies. They know all about the most popular musicians and movie stars. Often young people are so identified with their entertainment, it’s not unusual for them to only hang out with friends who have similar tastes.

If your children so strongly identify with their entertainment and you don’t even know their favorite musical groups, games, and Web sites or who they are texting, what does that imply? No matter what you say, your lack of interest gives your children the distinct impression you don’t care.

You care about your children, don’t you? If you really do care, learn more about their entertainment. Who are their favorite music groups? What programs and movies do they watch? Which video games do they play? With whom do they communicate on their computers and cell phones?

You don’t have to approve, encourage, or agree with their choices. Your interest will show your children you actually care about them. If you’re going to help your children make wise choices, they must first believe you have a genuine interest in who they are. After they trust that you care for them personally and not just as a project to be changed, they may begin to listen to what you say.

You just read the first section of this chapter. The complete chapter including the Reflection, Response, Scripture, and Application is one of 30 chapters from Al’s new book RECONNECT: When your kids are connected to everything but you. Find out how to order your own copy.

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Al Menconi

Al Menconi founded Al Menconi Ministries in 1982. Since that time, Al has spoken to more than a million people about entertainment and its influences. He has written numerous books and articles on the subject and provides free help for parents on his web site Al and his wife Janice have two grown daughters and reside in Carlsbad, CA.

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