Summer is the best! I was always one of those moms who loved having her child around during the summer months. The slower pace meant there were days when we could curl up with a good book and just chill. Unfortunately, so many of the books written for pre-teens and teens (and even some for younger girls) are dark. Even if the written and unwritten moral lessons are acceptable, the books leave your daughter feeling like she has just spent hours in a horribly gloomy place. Not exactly, the “think on things that are pure and lovely” type of reading our girls really need.
Our daughter was one of those kids who read everything she could. There was no way I could read everything she did, especially before she read it. When she was younger, I would catch summaries or reviews, talk to others who might have read the book and actually did read a few myself (okay the reading addiction comes honestly!). Our search for good books, eventually led us to the Christian bookstore.
Over the years, our daughter found quite a few books she enjoyed that were written from a Christian perspective. Be aware though, a few books may contain a theology that disagrees with your understanding of the Bible and are probably best avoided. I am not going to suggest an age for reading these books – so much depends upon the reading ability, maturity, life experiences and spiritual maturity of your child.
Here were some books (thankfully some were series!) our daughter enjoyed at one point or another:
Back in the olden days when I was a teenager, Christians for the most part didn’t drink. Then some smart kid a few years older than me accurately pointed out the scriptures actually caution against getting drunk or being partial to strong drink. Of course, the whole Jesus turning the water into wine and not grape juice was added for emphasis and a generation of drinking Christians was born.
Those of us who knew all of the problems alcohol could cause in life, still believed it was a wise decision to avoid drinking alcohol almost entirely and encouraged our kids to make the same choice. Unfortunately, many parents didn’t feel they could use the Bible anymore and so their only caution was to obey the laws of the land and wait until they were 21 to drink. I guess they figured by then maturity would reign and things would be fine. What they forgot is that they regularly broke traffic and other laws themselves, so encouraging their kids to obey a “silly” law was basically useless.
The older I get the more I realize the reasons God cautioned Christians multiple times in different ways to be wary of alcohol. The reality is, choosing to drink can result in a lot of negative consequences. I believe God’s laws are not rules to keep us from having fun, but to guide us in having the best, most productive, fulfilling life possible on earth. Because of this, when we taught our daughter about debatable subjects like alcohol, we made sure she understood some of the reasons why God might not think it is a good idea to drink alcohol (or do whatever).
You can arm your children with the tools to make good life choices based on godly principles. It begins with giving them accurate information and possible reasons behind God’s commands. They need to understand the possible consequences that can happen now if they begin testing the waters on borderline issues like alcohol. Here are some thoughts you may want to consider sharing with your teens:
The unfortunate thing about the current “green” movement is they have radicalized it politically to the point many Christians reject anything to do with taking care of the world God gave us. Yet, God commands us to be good stewards. Although he doesn’t give us a list of the precise things he expects us to steward, I think it is safe to assume He expects us to care for any gifts He has given us. In my book, His creation is one of those gifts.
So how can a Christian parent teach good stewardship without wandering into the New Age idea of the earth being some sort of goddess (Mother Earth) or the almost earth worship promoted by many “green” groups and people? Should we walk away from the movement entirely in protest, throwing our trash by the side of the road to emphasize how wrong they are about God and creation? I honestly believe there are ways to teach conservation and good stewardship of God’s creation and still keep our children firmly connected to God.
Extra-curricular activities for young children are a relatively recent development. A few decades ago, a handful of kids might have played ball, taken music or dance lessons or been in scouts. At the most though, you had something to do one or two afternoons a week for an hour or less. Boy have things changed!
Today’s children- even very young ones- have scheduling calendars to rival the most successful business person’s. Every minute of every day is scheduled tightly – from the moment they wake up in the morning until their head hits the pillow way too late at night. Dozens of books and articles have been written warning of the dangers of over scheduling your children.
I blame Anna Wintour. Okay, the infamous editor of Vogue is not the only contributor to the problem, but she has definitely done her part. At some point in time, models went from the clean cut, natural looking Audrey Hepburn types to the hyper-sexualized photographs you can find today in almost any fashion magazine.
When I lived in New York City, I worked very briefly for Harper’s Bazaar magazine. They had Calvin Klein speak at a sales meeting I attended. This was when he introduced the first highly sexual ads and they were still controversial. I will never forget what he said. Basically, he admitted his intent was to shock.
It really wasn’t about beauty at all. He believed if he could shock you, he could get you to look at his ads and buy his clothes. He must have been right, because since that speech in the late ’80’s, other designers have picked up the trend and made it the norm. Unfortunately, the designers’ desire to sell clothes has morphed into sexy being the standard for beauty.
As a society, we have let people like Anna Wintour and Calvin Klein tell us what is beautiful. Even Christians buy in to the lies we are told. Beauty is defined by heavy make-up, “sexy” hair, form fitting clothes and exposed bodies. The natural look may flitter in the fashion world for a moment every few years, but rarely stays long as the “pure” look is not sexy enough to sell clothes. God’s standard of inner beauty is never really considered.