Leadership // Leadership - Leading // Parenthood
Parenthood, The Teenage Years.
Parenthood, The Teenage Years.

The first two articles in this series have taken us from the birth of our children, through the first years of childhood as they quickly learn by observing and experiencing the environment around them. We moved to the period in their lives as they make friends, develop skills, and continue to be formed by outside influences. And all this takes place as we, the parents, care not only for their physical and material welfare, but are also concerned for their spiritual lives.

This concern spikes as our children move from, relatively easy to get alongside young people who you can reason with, influence, and basically have a good time with, to the ticking time bombs full of hormones, attitude, and scorn…welcome to the teenage years!!!

This is the stage where we can no longer treat our children as children. This is the stage, that as young adults, we reason our case with them, prove our arguments to them, and where we, most importantly, begin to trust them, and show that we do. If the foundations have been well laid at stage one, the structure securely built in stage two, then we are prepared for the possible storms to hit in stage three.

I believe the relationships we have with our children are pretty well formed by the time they get to their early teens. This doesn’t mean everything will be plain sailing. I don’t believe if there are major relational problems between a teenager and their parents, that there has been a poor job made at the early stages in the child’s life. I do believe however if problems do arise, and the groundwork is in place early on, then this foundation will be a great basis for any reconciliation needed in the years to come.

I love the story of the prodigal son. We read how the son leaves his home and his father, and goes completely off the rails. Poor friend choices, money choices, and lifestyle choices soon leave him penniless, friendless, and homeless. Was this a result of bad parenting? No. This was a wayward son, giving way to temptation. But along with many examples in this story (a forgiving father, a jealous second son), we see the results of a good parent / child relation. The son comes to his senses and realises his only option is to go back home, not to beg for his father’s attention, or in fear of his fathers punishment, but to ask to be accepted back under his father’s roof, even if it was to be as a servant. His father receives him with open arms.

When our children come to the end of their rebellion, we pray they remember the foundational, biblical teaching of loving Christian parents and a loving, caring church family.

So how should a perfect parent/child relationship look?

I’m not sure there is such a thing. I’m not sure any parent should feel smug if theirs is a great relationship or if another should blame themselves if theirs isn’t. Can you think of one perfect biblical family? No, me neither, that’s because there isn’t one.

Our daughter Erin announced one day, aged 14, that she had just realised her parents (mostly her dad) didn’t know everything, couldn’t do everything, and basically “wasn’t all that”. To make things worse this ‘announcement’ didn’t come after a massive argument with shouting and ranting and the slamming of doors. This was quite a casual, measured, off the cuff remark as she quietly ate her dinner, and contemplated, out loud, the revelation she had just been given. Both her brothers nodded in agreement… which was just great.

She wasn’t being cruel. I can just imagine she felt she had to impart this newfound wisdom to let us know where we stood, and that she had accepted us as parents even with all our short comings.

If I’m honest I was quite happy with this. I never wanted to be feared, or revered. I never wanted to get my own way in every situation. It was never my way or the highway.

At the same time, I didn’t want to be their best friend either. Our children have loads of friends, they have only one mother and only one father.

I wanted each of our kids to be able to come to Dawn or me and ask for advice. For the times when they had made mistakes that they could be open about them and ask for help to figure out what to do next. I was also happy for them to know that we made mistakes too, that we didn’t know everything, that we couldn’t do everything, that we knew only too well that we weren’t “all that”.  We wanted them to know that we trusted our Heavenly Father, who did know everything, who could do anything, and who was “all that” ….and more.

This is when we look back over the years. To the prayer times, the bible readings, the times spent in our own quiet times being that Christian example to the ‘harvest’ in our home. We don’t have to be Christian giants who set the bar too high for our kids to reach. We shouldn’t hide our flaws and only show the good stuff. We don’t need to look like hero’s in front of our children, because one day we will let them down. There’s nothing wrong with showing weakness, for God’s glory, because we must give God the glory in our weakness, show His power in our flaws, and point our children to Jesus as the perfect Christian example to follow.

God knows all our weaknesses. He told Paul…

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

Paul was humbled by the ‘thorn that was given (to him) in the flesh’, but he used that humility, that weakness to give God glory.

All of this doesn’t mean we forget our responsibilities as Christian parents. We don’t burden our young adults with our problems and worries. They aren’t equipped to deal with our short comings, but they should see, at this stage in their lives, how it’s God’s grace, mercy, love, strength, and power that carries their parents through their lives, and that He can carry them through their life as well.

Children are a blessing. At every stage in life there are many joys, happiness, and times of excitement. There are times when we worry, are fearful and concerned. But at all stages God remains faithful.

If I were to sum up how to tackle raising a family I’d go to this verse.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you

Matthew 6:33 (ESV)

We keep our eyes on Jesus, keep reading God’s word, keep focusing on ‘The Kingdom’ and everything else will fall into place. Yes, there will be tough times, but God’s grace is sufficient, freely available to carry us through all times, and when we remember that, then we “… (will) not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is it’s own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).

What an amazing God we serve.

Written by Thomas Harpur

Part 03
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