Friday, April 8, 2011

Faith of a Child- Chapter Three- How Much Do You Know About Today’s Children?

Welcome back. First all know this: Childhood in our culture has changed, but children have not changed at all (41). The characteristics of the twenty-first century child shaped by his/her culture looks like the following:

1)      They are high tech. They are being influenced heavily by the gadgets of our time designed to make life easier and less stress free. However, many times with our children, and for us as well, the bombardment of messages and signals coming at us from so many different directions causes confusion and mixed indicators. It has particularly devastating effects on our spiritual nature because all too often the Lord gets tuned out during the rigors of our busy schedule. What was meant to simply our lives and our children’s lives has complicated much of what we do. We could also mention here that our children our being influenced greatly by media philosophies of the world that reject the truths of God. It runs in opposition to what we are trying to teach as Christian parents. Our children are being robbed of their childhood right before our very eyes (42). In this instant information age our children are not taught the biblical principles and fruit of the Holy Spirit, especially in the area of patience and forbearance. They have trouble being focused and tend to have shorter attention spans than children of the past ages (42). It is becoming more and more difficult to capture their undivided attention (42). As a result of these quandaries we must consider how to best communicate with our children when discussing Christ. We have to know what we want to say, what the child needs to do, and how to keep the child’s attention so that the Lord can speak to them on their level (43).
2)      Today’s child is overexposed. They can obtain through the media and their environment inappropriate exposure to violence, materialism, gambling, the “Hollywood lifestyle,” movies and television programs that are way too unsuitable for their age (44). As discerning parents, we must be aware of when, where, and how our child uses the internet, e-mail, chat rooms, and texting. What we fill our minds with will have an effect on our lives. As one has said, “Garbage in, garbage out.”
3)      Today’s child in desensitized. Our children, like it or not, do not value human life as much as children of previous generations did (45). We are seeing a hardening of their hearts and love that is growing cold, much like Jesus prophesied (Matthew 24:12). This attitude can cause children to show little responsiveness to the sacrifice and pain of Christ’s death on the cross (45). How tragic this is! However, this should never keep us from sharing the gospel of Christ since its message has supernatural power and can touch even the most jaded youngsters (45). There is also the satanic attack on truth in our children’s culture. They are being desensitized by the relativism that plagues our modern society and it is having catastrophic consequences in our Christian homes. There is also the plethora of immoral actions by religious, political, media, and athletic leaders that takes role models and heroes out of the equation for us as parents to point to and leaves serious questions about God in the minds of children (45).
4)      Today’s child is nonrelational. Many of today’s kids have little or no time for friendships and they have no one to show them how to develop them. Gone are the days of simply “playing” and many kids don’t know how to just go out and create their own fun. They want to relate to father and mother figures, and they desire warmth and affection. But, too often they are deprived of the essential discipline and love in their experience. The ones they’ve loved the most have hurt them and let them down by neglect or abuse, which raises skepticism in their soul (46). That’s why we need to share with them the way, the truth, and the life of Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
5)      Today’s child is stressed. At home, at school, and even at church today’s children endure a lot of tension through activities and competition that they are probably not yet capable of handling. Too many parents are obsessed with developing child prodigies and put intolerable strain on their children.
6)      Today’s child is afraid. There has always been the fear of death, but today’s child especially wonders what will happen to them if they die (47). The bullying they observe at school and in the neighborhood intensifies this unhealthy fear along with the possibility of not being accepted by others (47). Kids are afraid of the future with a world in turmoil and seeking answers for the future (47). The environmental disasters and catastrophes exacerbate their uneasiness and threaten them constantly. There is a lack of trust because of the break-down of the family structure. They fear that God won’t love them because of all the rejection they’ve faced and won’t help them in their time of need. To combat this they need to understand the proper “fear of God,” which will rid them of all other fears, but sadly we live in a culture that doesn’t teach the “fear of God” anymore (48).
7)      Today’s child is angry. From parents who’ve mistreated them to teachers and leaders to classmates, siblings, and/or friends who’ve let them down, kids are fighting mad and don’t know how to properly release their frustrations. Many are even angry at God, the very One who is trying to save them from perishing (48). Children must learn how to give their pain to the Lord, talk out their frustrations in a safe environment, learn to value exercise and physical fitness (48). They must learn to pray and cast all their anxieties on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). They need to be taught Scripture and to display the fruit of the Spirit in regards to self-control. They need disciplined behavior modeled for them by parents, teachers, and leaders (48).
8)      Today’s child is depressed. There is a sadness in many children’s eyes that show their frustration, loneliness, and hopelessness (48). They have questions that are not being answered, hurts that aren’t being healed, and emotions they cannot properly express for fear of being labeled. They feel like no one has time for them and their needs.
9)      Today’s child is very, very special and loved by God and needs Him. We know children are precious in His sight (Mark 10:14). He loves them and has a great plan and purpose for their lives. It is up to us as parents to help them understand this great love and compassion that the Father shows to us.

Art Murphy, The Faith of a Child: A Step-by-Step Guide to Salvation for your Child, Chicago: Moody Press, 2000.

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