One of the unfortunate consequences of an increasingly violent and dangerous world is the loss of personal freedom. Homes must be locked and only an irresponsible parent would let their children wander unsupervised, as was, in measure, possible in previous generations. Besides the dangers of abduction and violence, the age we live in presents so many temptations to our teenagers and children.

It is of concern that some parents are not sufficiently aware of how their children spend their time, nor of the company they keep. Specific examples observed include children spending time in the “City” with groups of school friends, others wandering aimlessly in shopping centres or organised groups attending cinemas to view the latest movie. This last example is of particular concern. The peer group pressure to be familiar with the latest movies is intense, and it is very apparent that many of our teenagers have seen these movies, and discuss them amongst themselves. This puts pressure on those young people whose families have discouraged them from attending.

Sadly some parents must have allowed their children to go to these activities, but in many cases the parents were unaware of the activity, perhaps assuming that their children were shopping or performing other legitimate pursuits. The simple fact is (as any honest person will admit from their own youth) that immature young people will be tempted by the world, and being unsupervised or in bad company is potentially disastrous.

Dinah, the daughter of Jacob “went out to see the daughters of the land”—with tragic consequences. Though probably no more than curious, she found herself at the mercy of the world. Amnon, the son of King David “had a friend… who was a very subtle man” (NIV “shrewd”). Again the outcome of this friendship was disaster. In recent times we have seen parents devastated to find that unsupervised children have been involved in shoplifting, vandalism, drugs or immorality.

Responsible parents will ensure two things:

  • Good company for their children and teenagers. “Do not be deceived, bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor 15:33 RSV). Our children should spend as little time as possible in the company of the world’s children and, sadly even in the circles of the Truth, care is needed in the friendships we encourage (2 Tim 2:22).
  • Knowing where their children are and what they are doing. Resist the modern trend for youth to have independence. Do things as families and do not allow children to wander along, perhaps into temptation. Don’t be frightened to check out suggested activities.

Solomon observed “among the simple ones… among the youths, a young man void of understanding” wandering into great moral danger (Prov 7:7–8). Aimless activity can result in bitterly regretted folly. Paul’s advice in Romans 13:14 is “make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof”. Exposing immature youth to the allurements of the world is an abdication of our parental responsibility to God’s heritage.

Occasionally we hear the objection—“You can’t lock your children up—they have to be given the freedom to make their own choices”! This kind of wisdom fails to understand the weakness of the flesh and the subtlety of the age.

Scriptural counsel is:

 Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Take heed to the path of your feet, then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”

 Proverbs 4:23–27 RSV