Parents: Show Up

Posted on July 20, 2011 
Filed Under Fathering, Focus on the Family Broadcast, Media, Parenting, Social Concern, Spiritual Life

I had to read the letter published in the paper a second time. Had I gotten that right?


“Dear Abby: I am a 12 year-old girl who is dating a senior boy in high school. One night, we went to a party and then back to his place. His parents and sister were out of town, and he was really drunk. As soon as we got to his house, he started drinking again. That led to a big fight. I was literally walking out the door when he grabbed me and told me if I ever leave him, he’ll hunt me down and kill me!” Scared in NC

I have a 12 year-old daughter. I cannot fathom allowing her to be dating, let alone handing her off to some 17 or 18 year-old guy. I hoped Abby’s reply would reflect a bit of my anger…and it did just that.

“Dear Scared, Tell your parents or guardian about the young man’s threat. You are too young to deal with this yourself and to be dating a boy that much older than you. He clearly has problems and not enough supervision – and the same is true of you.”

That’s a disturbing letter, and while it was in the newspaper back a few years ago, it reflects a trend in parenting that I find appalling. Maybe we should call it “not showing up” parenting.

What in the world are that poor girl’s parents thinking? Why in the world would they let her “date” a guy five or six years older than her? Why is she even dating at age 12? What’s going on?

We live in a world in which parents are disengaged and hands-off. We live in a world in which kids have more freedoms – and face more dangerous influences – than ever before. We live in a world in which cultural pressures abound, influencing our parenting decisions and necessarily influencing the kinds of adults our children will become.

My friend, Janet Parshall, speaking to a crowd of concerned parents, said that their clear responsibility – a mandate from God – is to train their children. In essence, she said:

If you don’t work to pass along your values to your children, the culture will!

There’s a lot of truth in Janet’s clarion call to latch onto and own the responsibility to raise our kids with intentionality. As parents we MUST be active – relentless, really – in the spiritual training of our children.

We are responsible to pass along a passion for God to our children, and we are to be intentional about that process, as Deuteronomy 6: 6-7 clearly indicates:

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”




Lie down, get up.

Note that there are a lot of verbs in these two verses.

This is action-oriented stuff. This isn’t an optional, work-it-into-your-busy-schedule-if-you-can suggestion. This isn’t a call to be a passive parent. Instead, it is a charge to have an on going, continual, interaction with your child about your God.

What are you doing – today – to ensure that your kids are going to have a constant exposure to your faith, and to learn about God? What’s one thing you can do this very day to make sure that your values are being communicated to – and grabbed onto by – your child?

As a parent, are you going to show up today?