Pastor Jason, you've recently been leading a series on "a biblical guide to parenting teens". What new or unexpected insights have you gained and how will you and Becky incorporate those with your own family?
This has been a good time to do this study. Jack just turned 14 and Claire just turned 12. So, we are right in the middle of things. I’ve read the book before but it’s especially helpful now.
As for the class, it’s been an interesting and fun group so far. We’ve had some great discussion on the book, scriptural principles, and real life examples from different families.
Moving in succession through the book, the first section deals with “setting aside our own idols”. That’s something I struggle with, especially the “respectability” and “reputation” issues.
As a pastor, people expect your kids to be good. I find myself giving in to the pressure that says my kids should behave because I am a pastor. I try not to say that to my kids but I have to say that I feel that pressure.
It also makes me think of I Timothy 3:4 where Paul says elders are to manage their own households well and that their children are to obey them. Combined with the vocational aspect, that makes me be very careful with my kids. I don't want them to resent faith and church because I say, “You can’t act like that because I’m a pastor”.
The author does a good job of focusing on heart issues. You start off thinking this is a book about parenting and find that parenting starts with your own heart. I’ve found it to be a very helpful approach. It’s a reminder of the huge responsibility we have to direct our kids toward Christ.
I find that’s even more the case now. The COVID crisis has exacerbated things. I’ve had to set a lot of things aside to provide my kids with as much a sense of normalcy as possible.
So, the first lesson I’ve learned is to consistently remove the garbage of my own heart.
The second part is about “doors of opportunity” That is, even when kids make mistakes, good things can result if parents respond with scriptural wisdom. Some times, that’s the best thing that can happen. As parents, we need to allow them freedom to make mistakes, so we can help, guide and direct as they grow.
Mistakes really are doors of opportunity. They are not threats to our reputation. It makes me think of the Proverbs in general, and particularly 3:5-6 on not leaning on our own understanding. Those verses have been formative for Becky and me as parents.
Mistakes also allow us to point our kids back to the gospel. They also point us back to prayer. Becky is especially good at that; praying for our kids proactively and abiding in Christ through prayer.
As a third point, the discussion on “isolation vs. assimilation” has been very helpful. We have parents who want to protect their kids from every cultural influence and we have other parents that assume that pushing back against cultural assimilation is a losing battle. So, talking about practical examples on Godly parenting, even things like watching TV or listening to music together was an eye-opener.
Finally, it’s been amazing to see how our childhood experiences shape our attitudes as a Christian parent. People who are new to Christ probably will absorb more of this kind of book. They are looking for tools or guidance that might have been missing as they were growing up.
In any event, Christian parents want their kids to follow Jesus. They want to go beyond behavior and focus on the heart. Talking about parenting through the teen years and the “age of opportunity” has been good. It has helped my family and helped our relationships. My prayer is that will be the case for everyone in the class.