As I came into the mall, I saw a kiosk near the doorway with a poster of smiling adults and children, designed to draw my attention. The top of the kiosk had three letters: PGR. I wondered that that means, so I looked a little closer and picked up a brochure from the rack. Well, PGR means “Parental Guidance Required.”
The idea did not surprise me because that mall has had a history of trouble with teens and preteens. They would enter the mall without parental supervision and then “hang out.” But that’s not the worst of it. The unsupervised children would find friends and friends’ friends and soon turn into a sizable group that adopted the mentality of a gang. They intimidated shoppers, some- times simply by their number. On some rare occasions, they accosted other groups of teens and police had to be called in to restore order.
Parental Guidance Required: PGR is one way the mall is attempting to control the problem as well as limit the number of teens and preteens that can simply “hang out.” The lesson of William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies gets repeated in our contemporary shopping experience: Children left on their own will exhibit some of the baser aspects of human behavior.
As Christians, we shouldn’t be surprised that children left unsupervised will get into trouble. Each one of us could cite an example from our own childhood or—perhaps, and—from our experiences with our own children. Parental guidance is required.
We want our children to grow up and be able to find the internal strength and discipline to act like Christian young people when we are not with them. A tall order! We want them to resist following the dominant leader when that leader moves in a direction that neither God nor we would approve. But how?
We are redeemed by Christ and have a wonderful hope of life in heaven. That is ours by God’s grace and not because we have “behaved” in such a way as to earn it. That gift is ours, and it belongs to our children too. It was there for our parents and grandparents as surely as it will be there for our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. We are forgiven and redeemed.
That is the motivation for our behavior. We live because we respect and honor what God has done for us. Our children sometimes need to understand the consequences of behavior that is not in keeping with God’s will. The hard lessons are all part of finding the path they should go. Parental guidance will apply discipline and, at times, allow the results of mistakes to demonstrate which behavior will bring difficulty.
Parental guidance will also look to encourage correct behavior. Reminding children why they are to act as Christians requires effort. Making Jesus part of the conversation and life of our families not only honors him, but it brings his great blessings to bear on our lives and the lives of our children. When Christians, young and old, understand the depth of the love and forgiveness of Christ, they can better connect his love with their behavior. We live for him because of the blessings we have from him.
Parental guidance is not just in the words we speak or the lessons our mouths express. Parental guidance also comes from our examples and patterns of life. Our children watch us sometimes more carefully than they listen to us. Let Christ’s love motivate you in what you say and do. Then pray that the Lord will keep your children in his love so they too may be motivated to live as Christian examples even when not under your direct parental guidance.
Prepared by the staff of Parents Crosslink.