Friday, February 10, 2012

I'm the Parent of a Pre-Teen and I Know It

Not every time in the car with my kids is spent trying to have a teachable moment. But sometimes the teachable moments find you, smack you upside the head, then leave you feeling dizzy. Last week I had one of those mornings.

I was driving my 3 children, all under 10 years of age, to school. We live 5 minutes from school, so what could possibly happen. On this particular morning, the kids were chatting away while I listened to Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio. Since it was about 10 days from the Super Bowl, they were discussing the players in the game, including one Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots.

*Background note (in order to understand the story): Mike and Mike are humorous when it comes to sports. One of the things they do is create songs for certain athletes, to reflect their personality or sports prowess. The songs are all remakes of other popular songs. 

Back to the story...

On this particular morning, they were allowing fans to vote for a song for Tom Brady. Among the finalists, which they played on the radio, was a remake called, I'm Brady and I Know It. Being a youth pastor, I immediately knew it was a remake of LMFAO's song called Sexy and I Know It.

As I listened to the funny remake, I heard Jacie, my 10-year old, exclaim, 'I love that song.'

I about drove off of the road. Are you kidding me? How does she know that song? Where had I gone wrong? Wasn't she just singing last week about wheels on a bus going round and round?

It turns out that she heard the song at a skating rink when she was there for a birthday party with a friend. Thoughts of Occupy Skating Rink crossed my mind, but I shifted into teachable moment mode. Unsurprisingly, when I asked if she knew what the song was about, I heard the infamous line, 'I just like the music.'

If I ever move on to another church and get to negotiate my income, I want to get paid $1 for every time I hear that line. I could support an entire church budget with that income. And some missionaries.

So I am the parent of a pre-teen. Moments like this leave no doubt. Just by having friends and desiring a life, my once (sort-of) innocent children are being exposed to the filth that is passed along as mainstream by our media-saturated culture.

At least I recognized the connection. At least I have been waiting, and losing sleep over, this impending clash of family values and cultural tide. Except now it is my family that will be tested. How will I move forward?

1. With my eyes wide open. We cannot afford to raise children blindly. Forget what you've heard about the best offense being a good defense. Parents need a complete game in order to compete. I am fully aware that my kids are hearing things that I wish they wouldn't. Burying my head in the sand is not an option.

2. With my time well spent. Whether it is driving them back and forth to sports, parties and school, or protecting the family meal times, nothing will replace spending time with our children. That is when we will find out what is on their minds, what is influencing them and what is bothering them. Never underestimate the last few minutes before your child goes to bed. They may just be delaying going to sleep, but some great conversations have happened just before the lights go out.

3. With my research well done. I have my favorites (you can ask in the comments section) and I am sure there are many others. But believe it or not, LMFAO is not on my iPod. My music will one day make my children roll their eyes, when they have clearly left idolizing me behind. So if I am going to know what's relevant for today, I am going to have to do my homework.

That's not a complete list of what we need to do as parents. That's what whole books are for. But know for sure that teachable moments are all around you. Are you prepared?

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