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Want your children to make righteous choices in life? Because of the heavy influence of our culture, you'll have to put extra effort into raising them.

Not long ago I sat with my son, Tate, and five other class council members and their moms at a crowded restaurant eating taco salads and burgers as we finalized our plans for the junior-senior prom. I (Cyndi) knew I had to address the dancing problem before we left the meeting.

In my son's high school there are two dances a year, the Christmas dance and the junior-senior prom. Parents sponsor both events. Since Tate was junior class president, I was the unofficial chairperson for the dances.

Though the Christmas party had gone flawlessly, several parents had been alarmed by the suggestive way some of the couples had danced. I was determined not to allow the dirty dancing at the prom.

"Before we go," I said, "I need to say something. I felt like the Christmas dance went great, except for one thing. Several of us were really disturbed by how a few of the kids were dancing, and we need to talk about it before prom."

My son spoke up, "Well, none of us were doing that."

"Oh, I know. But I am responsible for what went on there. I can't let it happen again."

Blank stares met mine. No one seemed to understand, let alone agree with me. As I looked back at Hailey, Jessica and the others, I knew I was looking at the best kids in the school--leaders, honor students and all but one from a Christian home.

Yet there was no alarm over the indecent and vulgar behavior I had referred to. The teens expressed alarm only when they realized I intended to take some action about it.

"I've been thinking of what to do. We could attach a note with the tickets, explaining our expectations, or I could make an announcement at the dance."

"No, Mom!" Tate said with panic flooding his face and terror in his voice. "Don't do that. You can't do that."

After an emotional discussion, we finally agreed that if there was a problem we would have the DJ stop the music and make an announcement.

I walked to the car alone, barely able to hold back the tears. Five years earlier my oldest son and his date had left their prom early because they had been disgusted by some of the dancing. I was expecting these kids to feel the same way. None of them did.

What a difference five years had made. Where was their moral outrage? And what could I do as a parent to stem this tide? I still have a child in middle school. What will she face in a few more years?

Josh McDowell, author of Beyond Belief, explains it this way: "We have recently noticed a radical change in our youth. I'm talking born-again Christian kids in our pews. In the last 15 years the culture's had a greater impact on our Christian young people than the church or their parents."

We see this influence in their behavior: what they wear, how they talk, what music they listen to. But the critical impact has come in how they think.

Most parents of these young people believe in absolute truth (truth that is the same for all people, in all places and at all times). But a survey taken in 2001 found that 91 percent of Christian teens do not believe in absolute truth.

So what do we do about it? As parents, there are four steps we can take to help our children withstand the pressures of our day.

BUILD A RELATIONSHIP Teaching the truth is vital, of course. But truth cannot be given in a vacuum. It is best received in the context of a relationship, primarily with families and especially with fathers. A trusting, loving relationship with our kids paves the way for our teaching to be heard and accepted.

"The more we can help families, especially dads, to build that loving, intimate relationship with their child, the easier it will be for that child to believe," McDowell says.

Kids see God through the filter of their parents. If those parents are absent, abusive, critical, passive or performance oriented, the children will believe God is the same way. There is no getting around it. Despite the many demands for our time, we must make time to build relationships with our children.

The best way to connect with your child is to do what I (Cheri) call "get on his turf." In other words, find out what your child enjoys and do it with him.

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