If someone had told me that the babies I once held in my arms would push my patience over the edge, I would have shook my head in disbelief. Noooo…not my babies. You see…my two babies are now teenagers and take it from me – Parenting teens is no joke. There have been many times that I have wished I could hit the rewind button and start over as a better-prepped mommy with unwavering patience.
Sure I know that there are countless other mothers out there who have sailed right through the teenage years and your children are probably thriving adults now. You are seeing your prayers for them answered and hallelujah for that, but what about those who are hanging on for dear life? There are some of us who are white-knuckling it through the chapter that transitions our child to adult in five short (yet complex) years. The dreaded teen years.
This post is for you mommy of teens. I’m one who empathizes because I’m living through it RIGHT NOW.
I Was Kidding Myself
There was a time that I honestly thought that if I worked hard enough, taught good enough, and loved more than enough that my kids would turn out absolutely fine. They would hit those teenage years and things would be just wonderful because hey, they were easy kids. No need to think that things would be any different once puberty hit.
I was kidding myself and I was believing the lie that I had control. I didn’t and I still don’t.
The Truth is…
The truth is that I’m raising two beautiful individuals who have minds of their own and their souls are on loan to me from the Almighty. He has allotted me a short time with them so that I may raise them in HIM. It’s my job as their parent to love them through the difficult times by disciplining them, encouraging them, and being there for them when they fail. All the while I’m to be instilling Godly principles in them and leading by example.
Sadly, I wasn’t consistent in their formative years. I wish I had been for their sake. However, even if you raise a child in Church and get them involved in ministry there are still no guarantees. Life is messy and children are even messier. It took me a while to come to terms with this because I began to blame myself for the choices my kids were making. Can I just take a moment and say that if you are walking with the Lord and still blaming yourself for your child’s bad decisions…stop! It’s not your fault. You can only teach them the right way but the decision is theirs.
However, if you are parenting teens and your children are just following your bad example then yes, you should probably start doing some self-analyzing. Be ready to make some changes if you expect your children to change.
Back When I Was a Teen
When I think back to when I was a teenager, I can recall making bad decision after bad decision. I can remember thinking that the choices I was making were of no real consequence because I was young enough to repair any damage I might create. Some of those decisions have impacted my life up until now, and will probably continue to do so until I’m reunited with Christ in Heaven. If only I would have known, but would that have stopped me? Probably not.
Just as I had a process to go through, my children have a process of their own. They are going to make mistakes. It is inevitable.
Every time I am tempted to lecture my children, yell, scream, and stomp my foot, I’m reminded that those actions aren’t helping the situation. I have to love them through it and gently guide them down the correct path.
Let’s be honest though, when you are feeling fear for your child about how the decisions that they are making will impact their future the last thing you feel like doing is being gentle and loving. Often times I feel like shaking some sense into them before it’s too late. Then I am relying on my own efforts to fix them instead of laying it at the feet of Jesus and trusting that He has everything under control. When we trust the Lord and lift up our needs in prayer, He brings us peace. The peace that surpasses all understanding. Trusting in God = Peace.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4: 6-7
The Prodigal Son
Sometimes I like to put myself in the shoes of the prodigal son’s Father. His son wandered away squandering what his father gave him. When he was finished with his prodigal living he returned home to his father knowing full well that love and security were in his home Father’s home. When he returned home his father ran to meet him and embraced him. Am I like this Father? Am I like our Father? (Luke 15: 11-32)
The truth is I’m this prodigal son. I was once him and God graciously took me back into His loving arms and gave me a second chance. Just as He loves me, I in turn have to love my children. I have to love them through the hard times and the disappointing times with patience and joy. As impossible as that sounds God is willing and able to make that happen. As a matter of fact, he calls me to it. To love them is not to enable them because discipline is done with love. Caring enough about them to correct situations while showing them the love of Jesus is my responsibility as a parent.
“Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.”
Proverbs 19: 18
There is such a thing as loving your children while disciplining them. Those parents who truly care are the ones who will teach their kids right from wrong. Sometimes that discipline won’t work and they will still go off and make the wrong choice, what then?
Parenting Teens Patiently
Something worth taking special note of is that there is no mention of the father going after his prodigal son and dragging him home against his will. He waited on the Lord to move instead of taking matters into his own hands. He let his son make the decision. No doubt he was disapproving of the bad choices but I imagine this father stayed home and prayed for his son to return home. This Father waited patiently for the Lord to move, and so should we as parents.
“So the LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.”
Isaiah 30: 18
As believers we are to trust and wait on Him to move in our children’s lives. Our calling as parents is to teach and encourage them with unconditional love and unwavering faith. Trusting in God’s plan is knowing that even if we don’t like the outcome, God’s plan is always so much better than our own.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22: 6
Blessings to you,