Every year we have the opportunity to work with many great parents who are working hard to make God attractive to their teenaged children. Although often rudely awakened by the sudden change in our teen and our own need to re-examine our family dynamic, the desire to do whatever it takes to help our teens reigns supreme. Like most parents, we will drive anywhere, sacrifice time and spend money if it will help our teen succeed. However, across the board, we found that even the best parents of teenagers are plagued by one common Achilles heel – fear.
And, as anyone who has raised a teen knows, parents have reasons to be afraid. Teenagers are known for going through periods of angst, rebellion, peer pressure and confusing emotions. Parents do not know, day to day, how their teen will respond to these challenges and all this uncertainty produces parenting fears. In a household with teenagers, fear often becomes the parent’s driving emotion.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.
Fear and fretting can lead to a lot of evil. When parents don’t see their fear, they can’t acknowledge it. If they don’t’ acknowledge their fear they wont seek help overcoming it. If they do not seek help overcoming their parenting fears, they often become one or more of the following:
- Harsh or reactionary
- Distrustful of their kids
- Easily angered
In response, teenagers will:
- Be compliant outwardly but rebel when they think they can get away with it
- Become bitter towards their parents
- Lie about what they really think and feel
- Punish their parents by depriving them of the one thing they know their parents want the most, like excelling in school or following them in their faith.
Am I a fearful parent?
Fear can be hard to identify. As one mom put it this summer, she would get angry and make more rules for her daughter to follow instead of admitting how afraid she was of what her daughter might be doing. Ask yourself if any of these thoughts sound familiar:
- My teenager has lied to me and broken my trust. What if she’s still doing it?
- I made mistakes as a parent. Will they come back to haunt me?
- I know she isn’t telling me everything, what is really going on inside?
- He seems so easily angered nothing I do makes him happy.
- I’m worried he’s getting mixed up with the wrong crowd.
- If the other kids at church would be better friends to him/her, he wouldn’t be making these choices.
- She says she hates God and church … what if she makes a decision to turn her back on what I value?
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith
Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)
Faith v Fear
When we fix our eyes on the actions, behaviors and attitudes of our teens then our faith becomes subject to the inconsistent, random and stormy character of a teenager. The uncertainty of their actions, behaviors and attitudes produces fear. However, when we fix our eyes on “the champion who initiates and perfects our faith,” then our faith is subject to the unshakable and unwavering character of God. This creates confidence.
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
In the middle of a miracle, Peter takes his eyes off of Jesus and begins to look at the storm raging around him and immediately becomes afraid and begins to sink.
Parents are notorious for taking their eyes off Jesus and focusing on the stormy behavior of their teens. The result is always the same – fear and a very real sinking feeling.
Training is for Parents too
Parents are painfully aware of the training teens require to prepare for adulthood. Learning to manage their time, make good choices and discipline their emotions are generally at the top of the list.
Unfortunately parents are often unaware of the training required of them during the teen years. Parents must train themselves to discipline their emotions and keep their focus on God in order to build their own faith and not become fearful parents.
Fix your eyes
What if Parents fixed their eyes on the character of God and not the character of their teen?
- Jeremiah 29:11 – God’s intent is always good
- Matthew 6:32 – God knows what you need
- 2 Timothy 2:13 – If we are faithless, he will remain faithful
- 1 Timothy 2:4 – God wants all men to be saved (including your teen)
- John 5:17 – God is always working
- Ephesians 1:11 – God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will
Parents in the Bay Area Christian Church are encouraged, and admonished when needed, to build our faith in God and not in the actions, behaviors and attitudes of our teens. This is not an easy task. That is why we work together to build the proverbial village to defeat parenting fears through faith filled parenting.