Parents as Primary but Not Solitary


I recently met with an outspoken student to discuss her social media presence and cell phone usage on campus.  Frustrated with our school’s policies related to cell phones, she declared, “I just don’t think this school, or my parents, have a right to tell me what to do or what my character should be like. I want to decide for myself how to act, and I don’t like you or my parents deciding for me.”

The youth culture asserts its influence into the hearts of our kids continuously, screaming messages such as “whatever floats your boat is fine.”  These messages are very enticing.  What kid does not want to have the freedom to do whatever he or she wants to do?  What adolescent doesn’t long to be out from under the authority of their parents and educators? Students in our schools are not immune to the “you do you any way you want” influence either.  According to David Eaton, co-founder of AXIS, identity has become the new idolatry for American youth and being authentic is now their new hypocrisy. Many reasons exist for this growing malady, but a major one has to do with the media.  Dr. Leonard Sax, physician, psychologist and author, refers to a study that evaluated 150 TV shows targeting youth. Almost all of these shows portray dads as dumb and moms as clueless, while children are portrayed as the wise ones.  ONLY ONE show presents parents as having any wisdom to offer their children. ONLY ONE! 

What can we as UMSI communities do?  

This is where a school’s Family Ministry program can and should make a huge difference. 

We must be serious about the UMSI charge to “strengthen Christian families and values” by intentionally working to both empower and equip our parents to walk in their God-given authority with their children.  We must encourage our parents to make the most of the time our model offers them with their children. We must guide our parents in forming connected, influential relationships with their kids that will span a lifetime. 

While parents chose our model of education, drawn by the hope to have more time and influence with their children, many moms and dads lack the vision and skills to walk confidently in their God-ordained role. Many abdicate their duty to be decision-makers for their children, even with important matters like school choice, well before their kids are mature enough to make important decisions themselves.  In his latest book, The Collapse of Parenting, Dr. Leonard Sax wrote, “the acorn, having broken open too early, does not have the strength to become a tree.” 

When I first joined the University-Model® school community back in 2005, I was inspired by Dr. John Turner’s statement that “parents are primary but not solitary.”   This is the core of Family Ministry – to impart the vision of being primary in parent’s minds and to help them walk it out effectively.

-Ellen Schuknecht- Coordinator of Family Ministries

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