Raising teens can be a daunting task. When our kids were young, I would push thoughts of what those years might be like to the back of my mind because it felt like such an unknown. The truth is, there isn’t TOO much you can do to prepare yourself for the many changes that go on in our kids and in us through those years. Prayer is your best preparation. God can prepare us in ways that we aren’t even aware of. He’s good that way.
There are a few things that I think are really good to tuck in the back of your mind beforehand and as you enter those years. Things that you will need to refer back to over and over again. I wrote about these in my last blog called Things to Consider When Raising Teens.
There were some thoughts that came to mind afterward that I felt were important enough to write another blog about.
I love it when writers “bottom line” me and give me just a few simple points to remember. This is kind of a goofy way to go about this, but here goes: Think about how an egg is put under a heat lamp as it develops and then slowly, when it’s ready, the chick begins to peck out of the shell. If you have ever incubated eggs, you know there is a firm warning that comes with the directions-NEVER try to help the chick along in getting out of it’s shell. Even though they are being provided with the right environment in which to hatch, apparently, it is crucial for the strength and well-being of the chick to make IT’S OWN WAY out.
Now think about this in terms of your teens. It is CRUCIAL that throughout these teen years, they come to OWN more and more and more of their life and decisions. That part is where the rub almost always comes between parent and teen. We either have a teen who wants to own more than they are ready for (want too many privileges, “rights”, etc) or one who doesn’t want to, or is very hesitant to own any of their life and decisions. It reminds me of towing a car or pulling an object with wheels by a rope. The smoothest ride is when there is just the right tension in the rope. When the car that is pulling doesn’t drive smoothly, brakes too fast or accelerates too quickly…really any erratic, sudden movement, the car in tow gets jerked around and things are very unstable. I’m not sure which is the teen and which is the parent (possibly we’re taking turns) but the point is that there has to be team work, a willingness to pay attention to the other’s movements and direction. A lot of that probably falls on the parent as the adult and overseer of the teen. It requires giving in a way we have never had to give before.
I have an acrostic that I want to use to help you remember a few important thoughts on what your teen needs from you:
E-Encouragement. They often act like they don’t really need our words of approval or inspiration, but I am here to tell you that they do…more than you know! Some of them show it in less than desirable ways making you SO not want to give it to them. This will often come out of them as boasting or negative behavior. I’ve learned and am still learning that I have to be the grown up in the situation and sometimes give it when I want to give it the least. ( I wrote about this in Suffering For Christ as a Mom ) What this doesn’t look like is giving them empty, undeserved praise or going overboard in the amount of praise. They will recognize it for what it is and resent it. What it does look like is giving them genuine praise and encouragement when they have earned it. Sometimes we have to really look and be watching for it, which brings me to the next point:
G-Grace. I have learned more about grace as we have and are raising teens. And often grace requires keeping your sense of humor. It’s easy to get too serious about things that are really quite amusing. Laughing with our kids is both bonding and healing. But I’m not going to lie, the teen years have brought out the ugly in me more times than I could ever imagine. Things I had no idea were there. But if they weren’t there, they wouldn’t be able to surface. So I have to be REAL with myself AND with my teen about my sin and failures. There is only one way to do that without losing your kids’ respect:
G-The Gospel. Moms, this is the bottom line. Every one of us who call ourselves “Christians” are saved by GRACE. So as our ugly surfaces and as our teen’s ugly surfaces, we call it what it really is-SIN. Thankfully we are not stuck there. We have a Savior who loved us enough to suffer and die for that sin. So we acknowledge our own need for Christ as well as pointing our teen to THEIR need for Christ. When we do this, we are walking humbly, yet authentically WITH our teen and leading them to the only One who can rescue both of us from ourselves. It’s a message of hope. It’s the journey to giving our kids a very real, sovereign, just and loving God. And isn’t that what it’s all about? No amount of education, moral teaching or behavior management is what saves us or our kids. It’s simply the Gospel Truth.
P.S. One of my favorite parenting books (and I only have a few) is “Gospel Powered Parenting” by William Farley . I can vouch for this man’s credibility as he has 5 grown children who are all serving the Lord (and I know him personally). It wasn’t easy and Bill is very authentic about all of that.