My thirteen-year-old daughter, Maggie, has the opportunity to go on a two-day retreat-type experience with some of the other girls in her youth group, and she’s been waiting for us to decide whether or not we’ll let her go. I’ve had some reservations about it, especially since she’s fairly new to this group and I don’t know the leaders. It’s a two-day, two-night thing, where they will be staying at a hotel and driving to the retreat site during the day. I’m a tad overprotective, so the fact that it’s not self-contained makes me a bit nervous. I think I’ve heard too many horror stories of girls being abducted, etc. And I don’t always trust that other adults will be as careful as I would. I do realize that I need to let go of that to a certain degree, but I also know that it’s my responsibility to protect her. So, with that in mind, she arranged for me to get together with the woman in charge of her youth group.
This morning, Maggie and I went out to breakfast and I got to meet and talk with this woman. Meeting her put my mind at ease (or at least as much at ease as it’s going to get!). We actually had a delightful breakfast and chatted about all sorts of things. She told me a lot about her vision for the youth group, and had no defensiveness about my concerns. I could tell that she totally understood and respected where I was coming from. But there was one thing that totally blew my mind. She told me that in her 20+ years of doing youth ministry, this was the first time a parent had ever expressed the desire to get together with her and get to know her a little bit!
Now, I know that I’m an ultra-paranoid parent, but P L E A S E tell me I’m not the only one who wants to know just who is helping to form my children! Doesn’t anyone else get nervous that their kids are going to be taught something contrary to their faith? Or that the leaders won’t supervise the kids properly? Or that the discussions that go on might not be something I want them discussing? Or that they won’t be as strict about things like movie choices? Or…well, you get the idea.
I was recently reading another blog where someone was saying that their 4-year-old daughter’s piano teacher was having a mandatory party for her students and was not allowing parents to come. And it was a “pajama theme” party, so the kids were supposed to wear their pjs and bring a pillow. The mom was thinking it was a little weird and was questioning letting her daughter go. Seriously????!!! I wouldn’t let my 4-year-old go to the piano lesson without me, let alone to an event like that! A mandatory party? No parents allowed? Are you kidding me? And by the way, what does any of this have to do with piano? I’ll tell you what my response to that would be: “Bye-bye! I think it’s time for us to find a new piano teacher!”
What I found most disturbing is that I’ll bet most of the parents won’t bat an eyelash, and will just drop their kids off for this party. I can only pray that the whole thing is totally innocent and just shows poor judgement rather than malicious intent on the part of that teacher. And we wonder why our world is in such rough shape! What ever happened to intentional parenting? I understand that we can’t always keep our kids safe, and that we do have to learn to let go, especially as they get older, but isn’t it our responsibility to do everything in our power to make sure they’re going to be safe and then let go? It’s kind of like making sure they’re buckled up in the car. It’s a little more work, but if anything ever happens, at least we’ll know that it wasn’t because we failed to do our part.