Every year around this time, the fascination teens have with darkness comes to the forefront. Teens often look at spirituality differently than their parents do, and unfortunately, their poorly defined spirituality makes them vulnerable to things like witchcraft and the occult. Parenting is a hazardous business – especially when it comes to issues like these.
Before we look at practical ways to help our teens walk in God’s light, let’s glance at some warning signs in your child’s life when it comes to the “darkness.”
Withdrawal from routine activities – the normal everyday stuff. Beware of unusual seclusion and secrecy by your child.
Obsession with death and suicide. Many who are involved in occult practices believe in reincarnation. Pay attention to the music your child is listening to, Internet web sites they visit and DVDs they are watching – anything they’re feeding their mind. Check any doodling on a notebook with these themes.
Fixation with occult and witchcraft symbols. These symbols can be found in and on a variety of items including a Book of Shadows and correspondence.
Possession of Wiccan, Pagan and Shamanistic Publications. These could be in the form of books, newsletters, and magazines. Content could include poetry, spells, songs, rituals, herb craft, artwork, etc.
Excessive fears or anxiety. If your child exhibits unusual preoccupation and paranoia about current events in the world, at school or at home, then you have a reason to be concerned.
Fascination with or possession of unique knives. Often dull, usually double-edged with a dark handle. They aren’t used for cutting purposes, but to direct energy during rites and spells.
Book of Shadows. A Wiccan workbook containing invocations, ritual patterns, rules governing magick, etc. It’s much like a diary.
Altars. They can be simple or extremely elaborate, and located in a bedroom closet, basement, garage, or attic. They can have candles, incense, photographs or even personal effects on them.
Just because you observe one or more of these signs does not mean your child is involved in the occult or witchcraft. But it could mean that they’re facing some tough issues and need help.
Here are some practical ideas for helping teens avoid the darkness. Be careful of just glancing through them. The real issue is whether you’re actually doing these things.
1. Get in touch with your kids.
It’s important to understand the likes, dislikes, and lifestyles of our kids. This only happens when a conscious effort is made to invade their world. Without this hands-on knowledge, it's tough to earn the right to be heard or the respect of your teens.
When was the last time you took your son or daughter on a date? It could be something as simple as taking them out for a soft drink. The objective is to spend some quality time interacting with them.
2. Learn to listen
Have you noticed what poor listeners we have become in our culture? I like what Proverbs 18:13 says about listening – especially in light of parenting a teenager. "Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish" (NLT). Sometimes it's easy to advise or correct your teen in a given situation before you’ve really heard - with careful attention - what he/she is trying to say. This takes time and effort, but it’s worth it.
3. Work at understanding
Do you really comprehend the challenges your teens are facing in their world today? Our ability to grasp their viewpoint about different issues in life enables us to better demonstrate our care and concern for them, as well as to provide proper guidance for tackling the tough issues of life.
4. Encourage them
We all need encouragement – especially teenagers today. Our world’s not a very encouraging place to live. Confusion, pain, and disillusionment enshroud this generation. That's why it is so important for our homes to be places of hope and help. Kids need a safe refuge where they’re sure someone cares and wants the best for them.
5. Give them boundaries
The Old Testament talks about God establishing boundaries for His people. Why? They needed protection, guidance and security among other things. Teens need the same thing from their parents. Remember who the parent is – you! They may kick and scream at first, and they may never thank you, but they need realistic boundaries to survive.
6. Choose your battles
One of the toughest things you may do as the parent of a teenager is to learn how to choose your battles. This doesn’t mean you compromise or ignore behavior, but you look at the big picture. Put another way – “do you want to win the battle or the war”?
7. Love them genuinely
Everybody knows how important love is, but we usually think of it as a feeling. Genuine love is a choice and an action. That’s exactly what 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is talking about. These verses offer a great checklist for the kind of love parents should demonstrate to their teens. Kids need this kind of love if they’re going to deal with issues like the occult and witchcraft.8. Guard against the Big “H”
Have you noticed how easy it is to slip into hypocrisy in regards to parenting? For example: we hammer our kids relentlessly when it comes to the music they listen to or the web sites they visit; yet we fail to use the same standards for selecting our music or the movies we watch. How many parents shred their teen’s music, then turn right around and watch TV shows like “Desperate Housewives”?
Nothing will undermine your ability to be an effective parent more quickly than hypocrisy. Don’t deceive yourself into believing that you can get away with pretending to be what you are not in front of your kids. They can spot a phony a mile away. Kids today are searching for role models who are genuine; people who live life with integrity and consistency. And this search begins at home with mom and dad.
Let’s challenge and equip our kids to avoid the darkness and develop a faith that’s fascinated with what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable (Philippians 4:8).
Steve Russo is a radio host, a drummer, the author of more than a dozen books, and a dad of three. His most recent book Fear No Evil (Bethany House, 2007) examines ways Satan entices believers to stray from God and offers Biblical tools to battle evil. Throughout the school year he attends many public school assemblies, where he performs drum solos and speaks about making better choices in life.