Dear Dr. Bill,
My 13-year-old daughter has an outgoing personality, is well-liked by her teachers and friends, she’s on the honor roll and often sticks up for the underdog. Generally she is a very good child, but I worry about how others could influence her.
For example, the middle-school she attends sponsors a dance every month, and she gets a lot of pressure from her friends about attending. I’m not comfortable with these events because of how kids are paired up, the sensuality of the music, and other suggestive elements. Many of my daughter’s friends are not Christians and we’ve already observed that their parents don’t keep a close eye on their kids as they should.
Am I right about being concerned? If so, how do I protect my daughter without making her feel odd or left out?
Your instincts are right on target. Many aspects of today’s youth culture are particularly toxic to kids. You may have seen news reports on the concern over the dirty dancing called “grinding” that some teens are engaging in at high school proms. Many schools have even begun to set firm limits on the type of behavior that will be tolerated at school dances.
If your daughter’s school isn’t providing the kids with appropriate guidelines or proper supervision at the dances, then I believe it’s wise not to allow her to attend. Sit down with your daughter and reaffirm how much you love and care for her. Let her know that as her parents, you have a responsibility to protect her from physical, emotional, and spiritual harm. Tell her why you feel the school dances could be harmful to her in the long run.
You might offer to take her on an alternative outing on the night of the dance. Tell her that you’d like to take her and a few friends out for a fun evening—perhaps to their favorite restaurant and a family movie.
By the way, a great website you’ll find helpful is “virtousreality.com” produced by author and teen expert Vicki Courtney.
Thanks for writing Ellen. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, just click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.