Linda Park, a member of the Roseville Joint Union High School District Board of Directors, is a mother of two grown sons and a grandmother of two who was stunned to learn about the sex trafficking of young girls in our community.
“Jenny Williamson of Courage House came to speak to our board about their efforts to create a place for girls to recover from their ordeal,” Park said, “And it is just astonishing to me how much help parents today really need because it is just so easy to be clueless about what the kids are going through.”
According to Park, the social environment our children navigate today is very complex and challenging. “The parents have a tremendous challenge because the stakes are so high for our children, and the outcomes can be far worse than a generation ago,” she said.
Indeed the cyber technology powering individuals, homes, campuses and offices has raised the bar for the standard for parenting. Distracted on so many levels away from what really matters, the parent-child relationship is strained.
“There is no substitute for spending time with someone if you want a relationship,” Park said. “And the children who run away [searching for answers in the wrong places] are extremely vulnerable. Parents more than ever need to understand how to communicate with their children.”
Park’s suggested tactics for open communication:
The communication kids crave is the genuine authority of a parent’s voice.
- Communion with God (prayer)
- Family bonding/House rules that instill discipline as God’s love and individual liberty
- Investing in community
This is God’s love expressed as discipline (house rules) with respect for the individual; it is liberating. That means there is proper attention paid to the individual in conversations; it requires listening and observing the circumstances your child is navigating.
Observe listening moments: Our hectic lifestyles do not allow for communing with God and family. If we are too busy to spend time with our children, it is easy to become clueless about what is happening with children – what they are exposed to and witnessing.
Too often parents equate “communication” with the parent talking and the child listening. The opposite is true. There are listening moments when children start a conversation, it is usually not convenient or not necessarily on your time table. Stop what you are doing, pay attention and listen.
God’s love is where we find security and prosperity, and as parents we are called to direct our children to God as the supreme authority. It is the same authority model of the republic of the United States.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou reset up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Family/Community projects. Find projects to do with your children that involve serving others. It could be for a homeless shelter, an elder care facility, or a project affiliated with your church. The main thing is that when children become involved in serving others, it is a way of expressing your inherent worth. It is uplifting. It builds resiliency for influences that try to convince them they are not worthy of love, or that a controlling abusive situation, like sex trafficking is their lot in life.
Make time for family. Our schedules are packed with all kinds of activities, but little family time. Parents need to feel empowered to relinquish some activities in favor of family dinners and game nights. Make a routine wherein it is possible to have some time where conversations about what is happening in the lives of our children can happen. “It takes spending time together to build trust,” Park said.
Challenge your children. Give your children things to work with. For really young children, perhaps it is a Lego project; for older children, it might be building something, designing something, planning a family vacation…whatever it is, engage your children in things that can be appreciated by the family and also give them a sense of achievement and build skills.
(For more on this topic, see: How to inspire kids to do chores)
Power of prayer. Praying for the future of our children is vital. It strengthens our connection with God to receive his grace and bless our children with divine Wisdom. When we are transformed by God’s word, we can bless others.
Deuteronomy 11:21 – That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.
Jeremiah 31:17 – And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, That thy children shall come again to their own border.
(For more on parenting with genuine authority, see The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture – A Parent’s Voice in the Cyber Wilderness…now available on Kindle)
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