If you know me, you know that I parent on the more protective side of most parents I know. I don't apologize for this. I am convinced that it's the better extreme, over letting children go with less protection while they are young and lack discernment, strength, wisdom, and/or trustworthiness. As they acquire these things so they have a good balance of them, they should gain appropriate freedoms. That is the introduction I make for this blog, acknowledging that this tendency of mine is intentional.
We went to a friend's son's graduation party today. There were a few families we knew from a previous church we all attended. I got into a conversation with the parents of the largest family there...after a while we started discussing the MySpace trend, which seems to polarize people pretty quickly from what I've found; it also is a huge draw for teenagers, and no amount of speaking out against MySpace from two of our pastors has seemed to lessen its appeal; maybe it has only increased awareness of its existence. It reminds me of a verse (which now that I think of it shows that Jesus also had a tendency to be on the protective side as well): O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! Luke 13:34.
I was clearly against My Space, and it was soon apparent that most of their children old enough to be on it had a MySpace. Thankfully there was another family, the husband of which was in the conversation, and who took my side. He and his wife had checked it out and were appalled at the things the Christian kids he knows would show, or tell, or the thoughts they would entertain on that site.
My reasoning was that its biggest appeal is to an age group who for the most part lacks wisdom and discernment and is very vulnerable. They also don't recognize fully the consequences of some of their actions. In addition, it can be a bad witness for a Christian to be on a site that is so troubling that it has been in the newspaper a number of times--even those far from Christ have trouble with the ramifications of it, for reasons that the Christians should take into account. There's the matter of stalking, the matter of quick and visible access to pornography, and just the matter of bad content as a whole. A person who has even a clean and Christian MySpace would by doing so affirm the supposed validity of this problematic website.
The thing that disturbed me in our conversation was not so much their affirming MySpace, as much as the reasoning that the parents of the MySpace family used. Now this is a family of about 8 children, obviously of various ages. The parents said, "You've got to let them grow up sometime" or "Eventually they've got to make their own decisions" or "Well, once they move out we can't watch their every move." Well, all those things are true, but the children they were talking about I'm pretty sure aren't ready to be considered grown up, or to make their own decisions; I think that two of them are 11 and 13. Most people's children in this age group who access MySpace, well, maybe the parents ought to watch their every move for accountability, especially knowing that their child is on it. Not for always. But while they are under parents' care and authority, the parents are accountable to God for what the children are learning and how they turn out.
The following verse comes to mind; it's used so frequently that it seems to lose its punch. Still I think it applies very well to this situation: Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6