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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