Parenting Teens and the Ministry of Silence

It’s official. I am a parent of an eighteen-year-old—a legal adult. I can’t deny it anymore. Not that I don’t feel it in the air whenever we are together. It is a general rejecting of my parenting that I sense. I can feel her trying to relate to me as an equal. Her ears don’t hear.

How does one parent an eighteen-year-old? The only answer I can give with certainty is…very carefully. Parenting at this point is a dance of lavish love from a distance, fervent prayer without ceasing, and strategic, intentional silence.

I remember one warm afternoon when I was in my early twenties. I was home for the summer at my dad’s house. I stepped out into the warmth of the day, reveling in the sweet kiss of the sun. My stepmom wanted to go for a walk with me. She shared something she regretted from her past in an attempt to save me from making the same mistake. However, I was young and stupid.

I often wonder, Can anyone be young and NOT stupid? I think it would be an anomaly.

Needless to say, I didn’t heed her advice and continued whatever it was I was doing. I’ll never forget that conversation, however. How kind it was of her to pour her heart out to me so that I might benefit. As she saw me continue down the wrong path, I can now relate to how she must have felt. My ears wouldn’t hear.

As a parent, how does one watch from the sidelines helplessly as their child heads toward disaster? It must be desperately heartbreaking. I am grateful that my kids are generally good kids. As of yet, figuratively speaking, they have’t barreled into a wall at ninety miles an hour, or caused a train wreck.

My daughters are basically good kids and I adore them. However, being a lover of Jesus Christ causes me to want more for them. I desperately want them to know the love of their Heavenly Father. I want them to feel cherished, because they are daughters of the King. I want them to know without a doubt they are worth dying for.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18-19

However, for a time, I have to watch my daughter find her own way. I have to stand by and watch her potentially be of the world, not just in it. Often, I have to be silent, and I dare not judge. I have to let her walk her path. I have to let her write her own story. Maybe she is not ready to give God the reigns in their life.

The amount of times during the day when she is home that I have to silence myself is countless. It takes a great deal of will-power, but mostly the Holy Spirit to be able to do this. I have to let go and trust God, trust prayer, and trust how God has used me in her life these last eighteen years. Yikes. That’s asking a lot.

I am praying for discernment like never before. I pray that God gives me wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent. I pray the only words that come out of my mouth are His words. I pray that God would make me better than I am, more patient, and more loving.

When my stepmom took me for a walk that day so many years ago, she was depositing into my love tank. Regardless of whether or not I heeded her advice, I remember the love. That sticks with me. Love usually does.

Loving our teenagers well, even in times that require silence, is the key. Even if my daughter doesn’t listen to me, if I can love her well, then I have done my job. Teaching and instructing are an important part of parenting, but they can’t even compare to the loving.


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Raising Kids to be Eternity Focused

The following is an excerpt from Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids.


When Jessica was about nine, she was holding our cat, Essie. Essie was squirming in her arms, and quietly let out a warning growl. I was cleaning the kitchen while listening to a podcast so I was only mildly paying attention to what was going on.

She has an attitude problem. Not my daughter, the cat. Essie can look at you from across the room and you know what she is thinking—I am going to kill you in your sleep! She’s a grumpy old cat. And our very existence annoys her.

I could tell that Essie’s patience was running thin.

“You’d better put her down,” I said. “She’s gonna scratch you!” Essie let out another soft growl. Jessica ignored my warning and continued kissing her and messing with her face.

“I’m serious, she’s gonna blow!” I pleaded one last time.

Then the last growl ramped up. Three strikes you’re out! All the muscles in Essie’s body tensed and her front paws and legs began to flail violently. The next five seconds were a mess of fur, claws, and growls. Essie swiped at Jessica’s chest and face as her body twisted to get free. Jessica screamed in pain as Essie freed herself and leapt out of her arms landing squarely in the dog’s water bowl.

Jessica stood there with tears in her eyes, blood on her face, chest and arms, and dog slobber water soaking her clothes. It was a sad and pathetic sight. Other than a trail of water on the floor through the foyer, no trace of Essie could be found. But she had left her mark.

As I went to comfort Jessica, I wanted to say, “I told you that was going to happen!” But the words were unnecessary. So I hugged her tight, wiped her tears, and cleaned her up.

Teaching our kids to think beyond the present moment, whether it’s five seconds into the future, five months or five years, is a difficult task. Kids tend to focus on the here and now. They live in the moment.

As followers of Christ, however, we live for eternity. We live for our glorious future in Heaven.

Part of our job as parents is to change the mindset of our kids to an eternal mindset. We encourage a Biblical attitude of focusing on eternity. This means that we must be focused on eternity as well and not be wrapped up in the things of this world. Disciples of Christ are eternity-focused, not culture-focused.

Human beings are eternal, not finite. Our souls live on after our bodies die. Heaven and Hell are real and we all will end up in one or the other someday. This earth will be gone at some point, so we must set our minds on eternity.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2

We must teach our children to think in terms of whether things are temporary and will pass away, or are eternal and will endure. Focusing on the eternal tends to separate easily what is and what is not important in this life.

Our children’s eternal future is the reason passing on our faith is so important.

Beth Moore wrote this eloquently in her Bible study, Entrusted, A Study of 2 Timothy.

What happens now matters then…Every present moment has future implications. This is not about your past. Not just about your present. This is about your future…Because what happens now matters then.[i]

Now I realize that I want to raise my kids to be disciples of Christ more than anything else (we will talk about what this means in Chapter 9). I want them to leave my house with the Great Commission front and center in their lives, and their eternal future on their minds.

[i] Beth Moore, Entrusted: A Study of 2 Timothy (Nashville: Lifeway Press, 2016), 148.