by Diana Bryant
We make dozens of choices each day. Usually the first one is whether to get up when the alarm goes off or hit the snooze button. It continues from there. What will I wear today? Will I curl my hair or just pull it back in a ponytail? What do I want for breakfast? These are, in the whole scheme of things, minor choices we habitually make by the time we’re adults.
Our girls face not only these minor decisions, but many others with far more substantial consequences every day. In truth, they face a lot of choices we never had to make. Temptation and pitfalls come packaged very differently these days and can look far more attractive than we remember. Our culture has become adept at making good look evil and evil look good, as Scripture warned would happen. How can we help our girls learn to make good choices?
*Above all else, be intentional in encouraging your teen to cultivate their relationship with God and realize their worth as His child. Be creative in teaching them to read Scripture—read with them, provide relevant devotional helps, expose them to good teaching, take them to events that can strengthen their walk with God. Make sure they have opportunities to learn God’s Word and its principles from sources and events that will capture their attention. Provide opportunities to see and hear good role models with true messages, whether it be teachers, musicians, or speakers. The more familiar they are with truth, the quicker they can learn to apply it to choices they make. The more confident they are in their relationship with God, the more likely they will be to make their own decisions.
* While the phrase “because I said so”, has certainly been used for years, I’m not sure it’s helpful. Talk through why you have made certain choices as they occur, explaining the “why” or “why not” of an issue. Talk through the thought process, the principles involved, and even the potential outcome of either side of the choice. If it’s a choice you’ve had to make, explain how you arrived at that result. Maybe even ask her opinion and be willing to listen to her thoughts.
*Make certain you are not just laying down rules, but teaching biblical principles governing the guidelines you establish. Children can obey without ever understanding the principles involved. Simply demanding obedience without teaching principles won’t work forever.
*As hard as it is to watch sometimes, natural consequences of poor choices can be a great teacher. Be available to talk about where things went wrong and how things could go differently next time. Applaud good choices. Giving girls freedom to make choices while still under your care gives you the opportunity to be a safety net but allows them to learn from mistakes.
*Staying informed and familiar with social media, apps, and platforms will go a long way to helping you communicate with your teen. It’s hard to give reliable advice and direction when you have no clue what choices girls are facing when it comes to new and flashy devices and entertainment. It seems impossible to stay up-to-date or even understand some trends, but it’s very important to try.
*Help your teen see what her choices are in each situation. She may see only one or two ways to solve her dilemma, but you have the experience to point out other options. Help her play out the consequences of each possible choice, weighing pros and cons.
*Pray, pray, pray! Ask for wisdom and discernment for them, ask the Lord to create in them hearts that seek Him and His favor. So many decisions our girls face must come down to wanting to please God more than pleasing their friends. The desire to obey God must be stronger than the pressure from other persistent elements in our culture. Pray for wisdom for yourself to know how to model these things for your girls and for creative ways to communicate these truths to them. Pray for the ability to model good choices, and for wisdom to know when to share consequences you’ve experienced due to poor choices. Just pray! It’s your best offense and strongest defense!