Pure Intimacy: God's Design for Sex

When Other Families Need Discernment

Concerned about the choices of your child's friends? Here's how to discuss the subject with their parents.

by Bob Waliszewski

I just spoke with a very concerned mom. “Sallee” explained that she has trouble talking with other parents about their kids’ poor entertainment choices. Over the years, she has seen her son’s two closest friends change from lighthearted elementary students into gloomy high schoolers fascinated with darkness (the boys are outspoken fans of the extremely problematic bands Korn, Slayer and Tool).

“Yesterday, when I drove the boys to school, I heard them proudly discussing these bands,” she explained. “I’ve known one of these boys since he was in third grade. Now he’s really adopting a dark image. I know the mothers of these boys and am sure they don’t realize what their sons are into. What, if anything, should I do?” A great question. Consider this five-step approach:

  1. Resist the temptation to do nothing. Even though it can be difficult, it’s always best to, tactfully, try to rescue kids. They ultimately belong to God, who is interested in their health and safety.

  2. Be a source of information. Sallee was sure her friends didn’t know about the dark music their sons were consuming. You may encounter someone who’d rather stay in the dark, but Hosea 4:6 says, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.”

  3. Never be judgmental. Statements like, “Your sons are negatively influencing mine” will close the door on meaningful discussion. However, starting out with, “Like you, I really love your boys and want to see them succeed,” can set the tone for productive dialogue.

  4. Communicate that poor entertainment choices are likely a symptom of a deeper spiritual issue. In my years of talking with parents and teens, I’d be hard pressed to recall even one teen who feasted on deeply oppressive music and was genuinely sold out to Jesus Christ. Why? I think John 1:6 explains it well: “If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”

Here’s a related observation: Links have been made between a young person’s passion for dark entertainment and a strained paternal relationship. This “father factor” can result from various youth traumas, the most common of which include an absentee father or a dad who is distant, critical, abusive or spiritually hypocritical. But even virtuous dads can raise a prodigal child. In those cases, look for dynamics such as poor self-esteem, rejection by peers or dabbling in the occult. Other factors may include divorce, being shunned by a close family member, or a permissive climate at home that has enabled or fueled a hunger for vile media messages.

  1. Encourage the parents to tackle this issue head-on with their teens. I’d recommend a lot of listening and dialogue, especially regarding deeper spiritual and emotional issues. If parents encounter hostility or a seemingly impenetrable wall, they may want to seek help from a pastor or Christian counselor. Still, do what you can to empower parents with practical advice for setting acceptable media standards in their homes.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but always be “prayed up.” Nothing of significant spiritual value occurs without the power of the Holy Spirit activated by intercession. Pray before talking to these parents. Pray during. Pray after. And of course, pray for the young people involved. Ask for wisdom. Ask to communicate as Jesus would. Isaiah explains that one of Christ’s missions was to “proclaim freedom for the captives” and to see “release for the prisoners.” If you know of a family that can use some help with their “captives,” consider being an agent of deliverance.

This article originally appeared in the July 1999 issue of Plugged In Magazine. Stay on top of the latest entertainment reviews, youth trends and cultural analysis with your own subscription.

About the author

Bob Waliszewski is director of Focus on the Family's Plugged In department which features the Plugged In Web site.