In the Fall of 2021, The Owen Center hosted an event called Alone Together. This event aimed to answer the questions that arise from raising children in a digital age. The counselors of the Owen Center put together a brief response to a few of the questions from the event to help guide parents as they begin to approach the topic with their children.
Understanding our identity in Christ in a Broken Digital World
Since the call to every Christian is to be in the world and not of it–to engage the culture, that is–then parents may heed the further call to train their children to be a part of culture without accommodating its values. Parents are the mini-culture shapers of the home. We prepare our children to (a) not be shaped primarily by their experiences and interactions and (b) engage the culture winsomely, knowledgeably, and lovingly.
Digital/technological resources like Kindles, movies, documentaries, podcasts, audio Bible, etc., can be helpful to parents as teaching tools and timed exposure to themes and realities of the world. In addition, people skills figure into this calling to parents. Children can and should learn the art of conversation at home. The world needs a generation of thinkers and doers who are not afraid of engaging in a rapidly changing world.
Proactive, Not Reactive, Parenting
Children are born to wonder. Mothers, fathers, and teachers may seize the days of childhood to capture the child’s imagination through hands-on exposure to the natural world every day. I know of no substitute to prepare the child for:
- An adventurous attitude.
- A grateful heart.
- An appropriate sense of smallness in a big universe.
- Participation in the scientific enterprise.
Excellent books (including picture books), music and art help develop the child’s taste. Our job consists of preparing them to choose the good, true, and beautiful over the ugly, fake substitutes coming at them or not on screens.
Children’s catechisms* and hymns help teach and orient children to biblical faith as well. Moreover, if we want our children to not only walk wisely but to know the one who became for us Wisdom, Jesus, then we may avail ourselves of resources to read and interact together around God’s Word, the Bible.
Thinking Critically about Content
The greatest danger to your child is not the evil outside of them; it is the sin inside them that is the greatest of all threats to their well-being. Thus, we have to help our children understand a component of their faith that is often missed. That is, our environment can never force us to sin, but it is our heart’s response to the environment that causes us to sin. Yes, our environment can make us miserable, but our hearts are always left with a choice to serve ourselves or serve God.
In our world, it is not a question of if our child is exposed to explicit content, but when. Thinking critically about this causes parents to ask the question, “Who do you want the information and explanation to come from?” If you are not teaching your children about sex, among other things, then someone else will. They can either learn it at the family dinner table or the middle school lunch table. One has much more potential for biblical wisdom than the other.
Thus, Parents cannot stay silent when the world is screaming. Throughout our Alone Together Seminar, a common theme is that it is not one big conversation parents need to have with their children. Instead, wisdom is found in many small conversations that help normalize the dinner table as a safe place for open discussion and biblical wisdom.
Here are some resources that can be helpful:
Sex in a Broken World – Paul Tripp
A Student’s Guide to Technology – John Perritt
The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality – Luke Gilkerson
Mom, Dad… What’s Sex? – Jessica Thompson and Joel Fitzpatrick
Navigating Culture – Walt Mueller