I am getting ready for another summer with two teenage boys in my family. It is going to be a wild ride!
I am excited, afraid, and challenged, and mostly I want to prepare for my trip down the emotional rapids of navigating my kids’ teenage years.
One thing I know for sure this summer- all of us are going to change.
My wife and I have been asking, how do we prepare for this summer of change? Here are some of the things we came up with, maybe it can help you prepare also. We decided we have to defeat the 4 D’s that sink parents of teens. As parents we can be distracted, deceived, dismissive and defeated instead of aware, honest, involved and visionary.
Be aware, not distracted
13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.Ephesians 5:13-16 (NIV)
Our kids’ teenage years present us with a great opportunity to shape their futures, their lives, and the lives of those around them. However, it is a dangerous time as the Scripture states because there are a lot of temptations for evil around us, and if we are not aware of them we can miss opportunities to help our kids.
Perhaps the most important quality of a parent is to be aware. There are so many things that can distract us- our job, finances, schedule, guilt, email, Pinterest, Facebook, et cetera. Many of us have become what I call DPP’s (Digitally Pre-occupied Parents) In fact, the journal Pediatrics conducted a study that found that ⅓ of parents eating at a restaurant with their kids were completely absorbed in their phone the entire time.
DPP’s miss what is going on with their kids both externally and internally. Here are just some of the traps all parents need to be aware of that our kids will face in their teenage years: peer pressure, sex, dating, social media, anger, deceit, substance abuse, busyness, pornography, homosexuality, mediocrity, and anxiety.
The Scripture above says that light makes everything visible. Ask yourself this question: Am I walking in God’s light so that I can be aware of what is going on with myself and with my teen?
Be honest, not deceived
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.3 John 4 (NIV)
John expresses here what I believe as a parent. There is no greater joy than to know that my kids are walking in the truth. I am a deceitful person, so I have to make sure that everyday I am making deliberate decisions to tell the truth, to believe the truth, and to expect the truth.
I grew up in a family that religiously went to church, so we were very caught up in appearing like we were a “good” family. On the outside, we looked put together, but underneath the surface there was all kinds anger, bitterness, and fear. One of the great things about MS and Teen camp is the opportunity for our kids to hear and tell the truth. We always want to make sure that our kids have not just our permission but our encouragement to say anything they see, think, and feel about our home.
In addition, a good goal for a summer of change is to open your home. Invite other families over, have campus students in your home, not just for events but when your family is in their element and living “real life.” Other people will see and be able to help you with things you may have gotten used to or deceived yourself about. This is one of the only ways to protect ourselves as parents from being deceived.
Be involved, not dismissive
1 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.Psalm 139:1-3 (NIV)
As a father, God is extremely involved in his kids’ lives. He is interested in knowing them, how they think, how they feel, why they do what they do. He exerts energy to search, know, perceive, discern, and be familiar with all of their ways.
Ask yourself, am I involved like this as a parent? Being involved is getting into the head and the heart of our kids. It is diving in and understanding the whirlpool of emotions they experience. It is also involving them in our hearts by sharing our own emotions, motives, and experiences. Since God is already so involved in our kids hearts and minds, he can give us insight and understanding so we can coach them and help them navigate all they are going through.
Be visionary, not defeated
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.Galatians 6:9 (NIV)
Unbelief is one of my greatest sins, and it leads me to giving up. Unbelief leaves me defeated which discourages and frustrates my family. It controls me the most when I am tired and weary from self-reliance.
There is nothing more important for me to teach my kids than to believe in God no matter what the circumstance. God is able to do anything for anyone at anytime. We can never lose faith that God has an incredible destiny in store for each of our kids! In fact, the more dire the circumstance, the more incredible it is when God comes through.
I know I am going to get tired at times this summer, but I am resolved to never give up on believing in God’s power. I know my boys will experience challenges this summer, but if they learn to believe in God, those challenges will simple become the path to their destiny.