Should I Speak Up or Stay Silent?

Here's a question I received from a mom:

"I drive 6 middle school kids to school every morning. I am constantly shocked at the conversation but am struggling with how involved to get. I know I can't lecture them on everything and still have an impact but how much do I let slide? Also do I compromise on music choices?  

I want to be a part of these kids lives but am just a "mom" in their eyes and probably a lame mom at that."

Here is my response:

You mean like when I coached football, and I would drive football players home after practice, and some of them would talk about the girls they were having sex with? (I hope your conversations aren't exactly the same!)

I don't know what I should have done. And every time I had this conversation in my head, 
"Should I say something? I know they are wrong in their thinking and actions, causing damage to themselves and others. But I want them to be able to freely talk about these things to and around me. But then again, would I want them talking about my daughter like that? That’s sickening! I don’t think they even want other guys to talk about their own sisters in that way. I need to say something, but I don’t need to preach at them. So, what should I say?”
But when I did respond, I didn't always give the same answer.
  • Sometimes I just listened
  • Sometimes, I would say something funny and pick on them to deflect and lighten ("If that girl had any sense, she'd stay away from you.") 
  • Sometimes I would gently steer the direction of the conversation, without preaching too much. For example, I would ask if they wanted to be married someday, and then we'd talk about what being a good husband looks like.
  • Sometimes I'd tell about my own experiences -- the good things I've done and the mistakes I've made. 
I think this last one is what got their attention the most. And sometimes I would risk and share something that would be "lame" in their eyes, like me not having sex until I was married. The guys were shocked.
I also talked a lot about how I was loyal and faithful to my wife, and that they have a chance to practice loyalty and commitment now. Honestly, I never knew how much they were taking it in.
Until I heard this conversation on the practice field.

I hope your group of middle schoolers isn't having the same conversation. But maybe your responses should be the same: 
  • sometimes listen
  • sometimes joke
  • sometimes gently steer (best by asking questions), 
  • and sometimes give a testimony of your own life (positive and negative examples)

That was my response. What advice would you have given? Let us know in the comments. 

Do you have any parenting or ministry related questions? Please email me or contact me in some other way. 

**image courtesy of laura00 via

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