Run from temptations that capture young people. Always do the right thing. Be faithful, loving, and easy to get along with. Worship with people whose hearts are pure.
-- 2 Timothy 2:22
Ever since they were born, it has seemed like Prince William and Prince Harry--the privileged children of Prince Charles and Princess Diana--have been on every other cover of People, the National Enquirer and US Weekly. Their family vacations were fodder for the tabloids, and their most mundane social interactions were scrutinized for scandal. Even now that they've reached adulthood, the handsome brothers still make headlines on both sides of the Atlantic. We just can't get enough.
Of course, the media's obsession with British royalty is nothing new. And the paparazzi cameras were around Buckingham Palace long before William and Harry's mother made the headlines with stories involving her hair styles, eating disorders and love affairs. Decades earlier--not long before England entered World War II--a young King Edward VIII shocked the world by announcing in a radio address that he would abdicate his title to "marry the woman that he loved."
Edward's subjects across the British Empire were shocked. After all, renouncing the throne just wasn't done...and particularly not for the sake of a woman with a less-than-reputable past. What would happen to the monarchy? And what would happen to England?
After turning his back on the throne, Edward served as governor of the Bahamas and spent much of the next 25 years traveling the globe and living abroad. He and his wife became international celebrities--much like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are today. With no children of their own, they had minimal experience with raising kids. But during one of their jet-setting excursions to the United States, the Duke happened to make a spot-on observation:
"The thing that impresses me most about America," he said, "is the way parents obey their children."
Edward's comment might sting a bit for some parents. After all, who hasn't given into his or her child once or twice during a particularly weak moment or stressful situation? Now combine that with the constant negative messages from the media, society and pop culture. And while you're at it, watch MTV for a few minutes or visit just about any popular website aimed at kids. The common theme is a go-it-alone, you-know-more-than-your-parents attitude. And at its core is the overreaching attitude of rebellion.
The Apostle Paul wrote about troubled young people centuries ago in his Letter to the Romans. Without pulling any punches, he observed that:
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
Your child probably isn't that rebellious, but there are some days when you might wonder. Thankfully, God offers parents some very useful guidance through the Bible. First, be sure to lead though the example of your own life. That means always respecting God though your word and deed, and living by His standards. Also, show your child plenty of love (sometimes tough love, when necessary). It's the right blend of relationship and rules that yields respect. And above all, always ask God for wisdom and strength through prayer.
There are no perfect parents. But there is a perfect God who's always there to help them prepare the next generation for eternity.