Claire Hailwood suggests we become as concerned about seeking ‘kingdom moments’ as necessarily keeping up with teenage culture
It was teatime and a track came on which included a 20 second clip that had gone viral on various social media platforms. I’d seen variations of this so many times that I knew a snippet of the dance, so when that bit of the track played, unconsciously, I did a poor ’Mum version’ of it.
This happened to coincide with my teenagers’ arrival in the room who were in equal measure appalled and delighted, but then joined in.
As Dad arrived in the room, he made the mistake of asking what we were doing. There were various noises of disbelief:
”Dad I cannot believe you don’t know”
”Have you not ever seen any of this?”
”Do you even know who [insert artist / song / trend etc here] is?’
Over teatime, Dad received an unwanted education in this artist and trend, and feigned interest for the sake of the relational connection!
Do people raising teenagers need to know the latest things to go viral or use new slang?
If so, how, without being ‘cringey’?
If not, then does that make us irrelevant? Do our teenagers need us to be relevant?
Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Does this mean we should flee from every aspect of modern culture?
Perhaps we need an understanding of the world, its pressures and culture so we can understand the context our children are growing up in, and thereby find understanding and greater empathy?
Understanding the world around us means we get to see the potential in culture. The innovation, creativity and God’s plan for future generations are in our teenagers – I want to be at the forefront of celebrating, championing and encouraging the growth of that?
Does this mean we need to engage in every trend?
Perhaps our role should be more akin to a guide than another peer. When we engage it shows value to our teenagers, their friends and world, and our desire to understand more so we’re better equipped to be that guide.
Hebrews 12:5-7 talks about how God as our father, disciplines us. This isn’t a harsh telling off but his heart of love to shape our character, to teach, encourage and equip, and His desire to draw near. What if we parented more like that?
Our teenagers can spot when we’re trying too hard, being insincere or judgmental and that damages relationships rather than build healthy trust and depth.
As our teenagers gently mocked their Dad, amidst the laughter, our curiosity meant our teenagers invited us into their world. The conversation included how something goes viral, social media algorithms, who the best dancer in our family is, what trends are OK and which ones aren’t and whether there should be a maximum age limit on who wears lycra! There were moments of deep connection amidst the nonsense.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 paints a beautiful picture of talking about things of the kingdom with your children in the everyday moments of life.
What if we were so captivated by the things of the kingdom that it spilled over into every conversation? What if we prayed more often for chances to connect with our teenagers so they might become intrigued too as they hear what we say and see the integrity of it in our lives?
Maybe those cringe moments are an important rite of passage for teenagers?!
But what if the connections and conversations around culture became something they associated with hearing more about the best way of the kingdom of God?