Who else is raising a tween or teenager right now?  As I’m writing this entry I have an 18 almost 19 year old daughter and an 11 year old daughter.  I have been thinking lately about how different their experience as young people is from even when I was their age.  I know how difficult it was for my parents to truly relate to the changing world 20 years ago trying to send me off into adulthood, but I find that there are days even more dark and trying for my girls than I ever experienced as a youth.  And I find myself praying with urgency that God will protect them and keep them from the evil that seems to creep in closer at times.
And I’m not a doomsday kind of person at heart.  I do believe that we are in the last days, the end times, that we are one day closer to Our Savior returning, but I do wonder how much darker will it get before He comes back.  Especially when I see the daily struggle my youngest goes through sometimes to survive in a world that is so cruel.  My youngest daughter has always been a bit socially awkward.  She is very direct and unfiltered at times, yet extremely sensitive and shy.  She has a hard time making friends, and there are moments when I as an adult have a hard time helping her with the anxiety she finds herself in.
This past month her best and almost only friend moved away…  Honestly it was almost like she suffered a death because of the loss she felt.  They had been friends since the 2nd grade, and this little girl had accepted my daughter in a way that allowed her to feel like she could be real and trust someone.  A few weeks after the move I received a call from her teacher that my daughter seemed very distant and was being teased by a group of students, and that they were handling the situation as best they could.  I am a mom, so I understand that no everyone is meant to like you, not everyone has to be your friend, and I also understand that at 11 and 12 years old teasing is a part of the banter on the playground, but at what point is this bullying?  I sat down with my daughter and we talked about what was going on at recess, and I after hearing her talk about her day I realized this had been going on for some time.  And in her efforts to now fit in and find new friends she was gravitating towards a group of girls who seemed to be sticking up for her.  But these girls are a little more mature in ways my daughter had not been exposed to.  And she felt like they were accepting of her, and they were defending her in a way that seemed courageous.  She felt like these new girls were her friends…
Because many of these young girls do not have anyone who monitors their phones or their social media many of them are exposed to things that are not appropriate for children.  And many of them don’t even feel like they are children at all, they actually feel like they are little adults, yet they are not even teenagers yet.  And given this insight, I my eyes begin to open and the scales fall off.  I want my children to enjoy their childhood as kids and not grow up too fast.  I want to love them enough to not only teach, but live God’s truth.  Yet, the enemy is always lurking.  After finding out about this new group of friends, I began to find out that many of them struggle with depression, thoughts of hurting themselves, or even suicide…  My heart hurts for these precious children who find themselves in these devastating situations; they feel so hopeless at such a young age.
Because of this influence my daughter began to ask about how these girls deal with pain, loss, sorrow, and anger…  One of the girls told my daughter about how she releases the pain by cutting herself.  Goodness, if it is hard for me as an adult to deal with loneliness and loss, how am I to expect my children who have little or no experience to handle it?  It was an eyeopener for me to see how easily children can be influenced.  I have to keep vigilant, I have to stay alert!  This younger generation needs us to pray for them without ceasing.  I truly believe that because of our prayers and example they will have such a mighty testimony of what God has brought them through, even as young children.  I take comfort and answer my call by remembering what the Word of God says… “Just make sure you stay alert.  Keep close watch over yourselves.  Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen.  Don’t let you heart wander off.  Stay vigilant as long as you live.  Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and grandchildren.”  Deuteronomy 4:9
Join me in prayer as we continue to usher in the next generation.  Then let us teach what we’ve seen and heard!!!  And always remember that the victory is ours!
Ian Rodriquez