When should parents allow their children the freedom to choose the music they listen to, the TV shows they watch, the books they read, or friends they associate with?
The daughter’s insight, by Courtney . . .
I grew up in a protective environment. At the time, I wasn’t always thankful for the boundaries that were set in place. Later on, however, I realized that those boundaries were for my own safety.
The thing I appreciated the most was how my parents chose to navigate through the issues. Instead of stating a hard and fast rule without an explanation, they would often allow my sister and I to share our thoughts and opinions about our preferences for certain things.
In doing so, they created a safe environment for open conversations about popular tv shows, books, music, and fashion trends. Sometimes, if we were not allowed to watch a particular movie with our peers, we would watch it together as a family and talk about the values within the movie. We would then discuss what happens when culture begins to be shaped by that movie.
As I grew up, I began to understand how these discussions shaped my worldview and allowed me to make more positive friend choices. Knowing why something might not be the best helped me discern how to filter certain information and avoid unhealthy situations and friend groups.
Perhaps a better question to ask yourself is not when a child is old enough, but how to prepare your children to think critically and make powerful choices.
The mom’s insight, by Cherie . . .
First, I would say pray and seek insight from God in regards to the plans He has for your family choices.
I don’t think there is a magical age. Decide today, if you haven’t already, what specific boundaries and standards you will establish for your children. If you don’t nail down your convictions ahead of time, your children and their peer group will establish their own.
If you haven’t taken time to grapple over what you believe and why, the undercurrent of the culture will suck your family into a sea of conflicting and confusing values.
Areas I see this being important in are with clothing, media choices, outside activities, and business. Here is something to consider: Our tendency as parents is to control our children. Who enjoys being controlled? When children are not given choices and are told what to do, how to do it, when to do it, etc. they never develop their personal internal self-control. These kids are easy to spot in college. Since they never learned self-control, they go wild when no longer under the external control of their parents.
So strive to teach internal control to children by offering choices while walking alongside them offering wise input and grace in regards to music, tv, books, and friend choices.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.
God’s heart towards us is that He is right there with us but not controlling us.