A couple weeks ago, we attended a sixth grade graduation ceremony at my son's school. The speaker was a parent/pastor who delivered a fantastic message for parents.
As a visual person, I especially liked that he had a live illustration for his talk. He brought up a mom and dad and one of the sixth graders. He placed the dad in front of the student and mom behind. He challenged fathers to take an active, positive role in leading their families and setting the course for their children. He encouraged moms to partner with the dads and encourage the students to follow the family course (train up a child, etc.)
The speaker noted at this point that the student was unshielded on the sides. (He also pointed out that some families only have one parent in the home, or one parent choosing to be active in the life of the student - this creates another gap). He called up a youth pastor and a mentor to stand at the sides of the student.
Finally, the speaker called up several volunteers to hold up signs representing the things that will vie for the child's attention - peer pressure, drugs, etc. Then he had the student, boxed in by the parents and other significant adults, navigate around the distractions.
It was brilliant. It challenged parents to "box in" their kids with adults who have the student's best interests at heart, who will speak into the student's life when he starts looking away from him parents for input. He stressed that parents (and teachers) are preparing students to leave the nest as adults and we need to be intentional in that preparation - it's too important a job to leave it to chance. I was challenged and inspired to look at my role with my son and with my students in a new way. My time with them is short and precious, and I want to do my best with the opportunities I have.