Parenting is an awesome responsibility; awesome in the fact that it is joyful and rewarding, and, awesome in the fact that it is an enormous undertaking. It is beautiful, breath-taking, frightening, intimidating, overwhelming, terrifying and wonderful all at the same time. What can I say, it’s awesome!
My kids are fourteen and sixteen. Finally, they are leaving the house wearing clean clothes that match. They no longer get knots in their hair. And, for the most part, they shower and wear clean underwear everyday.
Ahhh, the sweet, clean smell of success! And, like Nanny McPhee, I am tempted to walk off into the sunset satisfied with a job well done.
. . . . but, wait! The job isn’t done yet!
It ain’t over until the fat lady sings! And she ain’t singing until my kids graduate from high school and leave home.
Much of our kids’ character and direction in life is forming during their teen years and into their twenties. As Christian parents, we mustn’t lose focus or parent on autopilot.
Our kids hit a fork in the road during adolescence. And the critical decisions they make at this juncture will determine the trajectory of their life.
1) They will ask questions of IDENTITY. Who am I?
- Am I a beauty queen?
- Am I an athlete?
- Am I nerd?
- Am I worthless?
- Am I a child of God?
Teenagers are questioning their identity now more than ever.
Not only do they have to decide whether they will be the the criminal, the athlete, the basket case, the princess or the brain; and, what college to go to and what they want to be when they grow up. But, our kids are also faced with questions like, “What gender do I identify with?” and, “What is my sexual orientation?
The questions that young people are facing today are confusing at best and dangerous at worst.
If they don’t have guidance when answering these questions, they are likely to be overwhelmed by the lies of the world.
2) They will ask questions of PRIORITY. Who will I live for?
- Will I live for myself?
- Will I live for everyone around me?
- Will I live for the person I love?
- Will I live for God?
Kids will naturally answer the question, “who will I live for?” with a resounding “Me, of course!”
In a culture obsessed with self-esteem, we are told we should focus on ourselves. We should love ourselves. Because . . . “you’re worth it!”
Nowhere in scripture does it say to love yourself. The greatest love of all is NOT inside of you. The greatest love of all is the love of God.
How our kids answer the question of priority will determine the relational aspect of their future. Will they grow up to be in abusive, or codependent relationships? Will they be people pleasers? Will they be all about themselves?
It is up to Christian parents to model a life lived for God.
3) They will ask questions about REALITY. What is truth?
- Is there one truth? or, . . .
- Does everyone have their own truth?
- Which religion is true?
- Is God the author of truth?
Truth is what grounds us; morally and physically. Truth is what keeps us from floating around in space. The truth of gravity that is.
Establishing that truth is not relative but absolute is essential to passing on the faith to our kids. Without truth, everything else flies out the window.
“What’s true for me may not be true for you” makes no sense.
Belief can vary from one person to another. Truth cannot. Can a fact apply to one person and not apply to another? Of course not. Neither can truth.
4) They will ask questions about CONTENTMENT. Where will I find peace?
- In relationships?
- In substances or things?
- In achievements or successes?
- In God?
Coming out of the holidays, the phrase, “peace on earth,” is still fresh on our minds. We are told in scripture that when the truth of God is our foundation, peace is our reward.
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:11
However, peace can be tricky. Peace within a family or between nations is not a guarantee in this life. How can our kids be content in Christ and have peace in such a troubled world?
As our kids trek into adulthood, they will need to learn contentment. Our kids will have to answer the questions, How will I be ok with ‘what is‘? and, Where will I find peace?
5) They will ask questions about SUFFERING. How will I cope with life?
- With alcohol?
- With medications?
- With relationships?
- With God?
So many kids today don’t have any coping skills. This is evidenced in the high number of school shootings we have witnessed in the past 10 years, and the growing number of teen suicides.
When trials come, and come they will, life goes on whether we want it to or not. Kids need coping skills and they need to know where to go for comfort.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
Teenagers need input from parents when deciding the answers to these critical questions. They need a voice of truth regularly pointing them toward God.
We hope and pray our kids will answer these questions in a way that puts their life in God’s hands.
- Who am I? . . . . I am a child of God (Galatians 3:26)
- Who will I live for? . . . . I will live my life for God (Romans 12:1)
- What is truth? . . . . God is truth (John 14:6)
- Where will I find peace? . . . . I will find peace in God (Psalm 46:10)
- How will I cope with life? . . . . God will get me through (Isaiah 41:10)
Our role does change when our kids become teenagers. But we still have a role.
We cannot stop having input in our teenagers lives. Because the noise of the world will never cease. And, the pull of the world is strong.
So, just before your kids become teens, take a short breather and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Then, prepare yourself for the hardest stage of parenting.
If you have teenagers, then you are almost done with the race. Almost. Don’t give up so close to the finish line.