Engage – Don’t Retreat!
As bad as people talk about their teenagers and as difficult as things may have become for you, this is not the time for parents to retreat and head to the bunkers hoping for the chaos to pass. It’s the time to jump into the battle and move directly towards your teenager. It’s a time for engagement, interaction, discussion, and developing a committed relationship. Don’t let your teenager hide his doubts, fears, and failures. Pursue love, encourage, teach, forgive, confess, and accept him.
Three Doors of Opportunity
Paul Tripp identified three fundamental doors of opportunity that Christian parents can use to help their teenagers understand and internalize the biblical truths they need to grasp.
- Teenage Insecurity
- Teenage Rebellion
- Teenager’s Widening World
Your teenager can wake up feeling pretty good about herself and by the time she arrives at school wants to retreat to the shelter at home. Teenagers are flooded with questions like: Who am I? Do I look okay? Why is life so confusing? What does my coach expect from me? What will I do with my life? Am I normal? Is God for real? Why are my parents so strange? Physical appearance, relationships, new ideas, responsibilities, the future are all scary and uncertain for many teens. Identifying and answering these questions or directing your teen to God’s Word will help make Sunday School theology become real concepts that shape their thinking and their lives.
Going from Mom’s helper or Dad’s little buddy to gang leader or delinquent are the worst case stories that keep many parents awake with nightmares. Most rebellious behavior doesn’t go this far, but during this period of pushing boundaries, peer pressure, and abounding temptations, our children often make bad decisions. Many legitimate desires develop during the maturing process that can lead to rebellion if not acknowledge and addressed. They include a desire for freedom, the desire to be an individual, the desire to make decisions, the desire to be different, the desire to fit in, the desire for control, the desire to try new things, and many more. Having ongoing discussions about these desires in light of Scripture will help your teen apply truths like dealing with authority, sowing and reaping, wisdom and foolishness, law and grace, confession, repentance, and forgiveness.
One of the most frightening things for parents is the sudden explosion of their teen’s world. The little girl or boy that spent most of her/his time at home now takes cross country trips, or drives miles away to new locations new experiences, and new friends. We enjoy watching movies together on family nights. There is no stopping this process but there will be numerous times that you can talk about God’s sovereignty, His ever present help, biblical relationships, discipline, self-control, contentment, honesty, responsibilities and more.
“preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV)
Your teenager needs you
Yes, parenting through the teen years can be really challenging, but if we humbly and honestly bring our own sins and inadequacies to God and ask Him for help, we be His instruments communicating His hope and guidance to our children. Your teenager needs you to be engaged with him or her every day. Don’t retreat!
I’m praying for you! Let me know how I can help or better serve you and your family.
in HIS service,
P.S. The themes and main ideas come from Paul David Tripp’s book “Age of Opportunity”. I’m summarizing what I read, adding my own thoughts and Scripture too.
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