by Rod D. Martin
December 19, 2011
An old friend wrote today on Facebook, saying: “In ten days, my son will officially become a teenager. Call me crazy, but I am optimistic that he will be a pleasant teenager and grow into a fine young man.”
You can imagine some of the responses, of the “Good luck with that!” variety. But mine was as follows:
You are by no means crazy. All three of our teenagers honored their parents, loved the Lord, and behaved themselves with dignity and honor. They were certainly kids, but they were not the rebellious monsters society mythologizes, if not idolizes, not by any means.
Best advice I can give you?
1. Pray without ceasing, and remain constantly in God’s Word.
2. Remember that children — teenage or otherwise — are persons, not objects or pets. They want to be heard, and if you genuinely listen to them in love and respect, explaining yourself clearly and kindly when you disagree (or need to teach), occasionally reminding them that you’re doing certain things not just for them but so they’ll know what to do when they are the parent someday, they will usually respond very well.
3. At the same time, remember that they are children, not adults. You retain all authority, and they draw a great deal of their security from knowing you have strict boundaries for them. Just be reasonable in applying the boundaries, and constantly and consistently move those boundaries outward as they grow in age and maturity (heavy on the latter).
4. Don’t be afraid to let them fail. Most learning comes through failure. Let them know that, like their Heavenly Father, you will let them face the consequences but you will never ever leave them.
5. Don’t be afraid to let them grow up. They are not yours but God’s. You get to steward them for a time, but it is in service of their calling, not your own. You are raising them up to send them out.
6. Find the time and the money to do the things you want to do with them, and see the things you want to see with them, now. The time will go more quickly than you imagine possible.
7. Teach them — as much as is possible by modeling it yourself — that their life is part of something far greater, that excellence is required because it honors God, that if they achieve it they will stand before Kings — or even become Kings — and that we are stewards here, tasked with multiplying talents, and with humbly and mercifully extending Christ’s realm and His mercy in every area of life, just as He has extended it to and for us. Like all other people, your children will rarely achieve anything truly great if greatness is not taught, extolled, and constantly set before their eyes. There is a certain immortality in this, as they will raise up generations to come who will say “if I could only be a fraction of what my Great Grandmother was”.
And on that day, your life will be complete.