Keeping Teenagers Safe from the Dangers of the World


The other day, I settled myself into a comfortable chair in the living room and opened another Australian novel. (You might know that I’m working my way through a list of 50 Must Read books.) But before I could read more than a page or two, the rest of my family appeared.

“What are you doing, Mum?”

“Is it coffee time?”

“Shall I fill the kettle?”

Soon we were drinking coffee and talking together, and my book was forgotten. The conversation turned to my last podcast, Resolutions, Reading, Writing and Coarse Language

“I’ve been thinking about what I said in that podcast. Do you think I was wrong?” I asked my children.  “Should I look at every book before letting you read them? Is it wrong to trust you? Perhaps I’m an irresponsible mother. Maybe I’m not keeping you safe from the dangers of the world.”

Opinions flew back and forth across the living room. Everyone had something to say. I had a very lively discussion with my teenagers and young adults. 

“It would be really good if I could record some of this conversation,” I said. “You all have some very interesting things to say. How about I interview a couple of you for this week’s podcast?”

So that’s what I did. I interviewed Imogen (20) and Charlotte (17) and asked them for their opinions on keeping children safe from the dangers of the world, including inappropriate books, computer usage, movies, emails etc. 

These are some of the points we touched on:

  • Is the world a dangerous place for young people?
  • Is spying on a child justified?
  • Does policing children’s activities really keep them safe?
  • Could it damage the child/parent relationship?
  • Is there another way of keeping children safe?
  • Can children be trusted to make the right decisions?
  • How do they know what is appropriate and inappropriate?
  • Am I irresponsible? Do I just let my kids do whatever they want? Or is there more to it than that?

You might not agree with my opinions or those of my children. You might even think I’m a bit weird. That’s okay. I think parents have to do what they feel is right for their own families. That’s what we’re doing. But you could have other ideas. Perhaps you’re doing things differently. And that’s okay too!


Program Notes

Blog posts about trusting children to make the right choices
Can we give a child the freedom to choose but at the same time be confident they will make the right choices?
But do rules really teach children right from wrong? Or do they teach children how to avoid punishment? Could it be that the motivation to behave a certain way is coming from outside a child, and not from within?
We don’t make rules in our family, so how do my children know what is right and what is wrong, if they aren’t guided by clearly stated limits?  

Teenage Daughters, Books, Movies and Love
When it comes to books and movies, my 16 year old daughter Charlotte is very hard to please. Sometimes when we are watching a family movie together, we’ll realise she is no longer in the room with us.

Related Podcast

Resolutions, Reading, Writing and Coarse Language


I didn’t talk specifically about music this week, but I did use a small snippet of a piece by Podington Bear to separate segments of my podcast. If you’d like to listen to the full piece of music, here’s the details:

By Grace by Podington Bear(CC BY-NC 3.0)

(Isn’t Podington Bear a great name?)

The Angels of Abbey Creek

You can …

find more podcasts on my podcast page,

subscribe to my podcasts through iTunes.

And did you know every story in my children’s novel, The Angels of Abbey Creek, is totally appropriate. No danger at all!

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  1. Reply

    Sounds lik another one I need to wait to listen to with the teens!

    1. Reply

      I can just imagine you having a great discussion about this topic with your teens. I hope you get a chance to listen!

  2. Reply

    I just listened to this with my older teens, and we really enjoyed it – lots to discuss! I realized that, before I had kids, I definitely thought I would be strictly monitoring everything about my children. It seemed the only way to keep them safe, and I was bound before God to do my very best to keep them safe.

    It was easier to think that way about nebulous "kids" than to think that way about each individual child God really sent me! It's not that keeping them safe became less important, more that I could see that me being their conscience wasn't going to work long term. I must admit, the realization caused some panic. 🙂

    I learned the terms "internal locus of control" and "trajectory." I lived with my actual children and saw them grow, and discovered that God had indeed provided them each with their own conscience, it just needed formation and nurturing. When they are younger they need more structure, oversight, and gentle correction. But, as long as this is done in the spirit of me helping them to grow, they seem to develop a deep relationship of trust. I'm here to help them become the person God created them to be.

    Talking with my kids, they were deeply affronted by the notion of parents "spying" on their kids. And they were appalled at the story of the kids stealing the password! I told them that I could see myself checking the computer history if I was seeing someone having a problem with furtive behavior on the computer, and they couldn't talk to me about it when asked. They saw that as me helping a kid that needed help instead of spying.

    Thanks for a great discussion!

  3. Reply


    Thank you so much for listening to my podcast. I really enjoyed chatting with my teenagers. Young people have lots of interesting things to say!

    Your comment is so interesting as well. Yes, I also used to think that if I didn't keep a strict monitoring eye on everything my kids were in contact with, I'd be failing to do my duty. I agree we can't be our children's consciences. We have to help them develop their own. Helping our children become the people God created them to be…. That something I think about a lot. That really says everything, doesn't it?

    Perhaps parents can push kids into negative behaviour by not respecting them. Spying on kids isn't a good example for them, and maybe some kids will learn to copy their parents' secretive behaviour. It sounds like you have a great relationship with your kids. They obviously see a difference between spying and helping.

    It has been a great discussion. Thank you for joining in!

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