We all want to be successful, as parents we are many times lost as to what that means with teenagers. I am going to work through some biblical principles that will point us to success with parenting teens.
One area that we are not in control of is our teen’s salvation. We cannot in anyway take the glory from God when He changes lives. So if your child has come to faith in Jesus Christ that is all the more reason to praise God for his grace. Nor can we have any expectation that our child will love or show grace to others, without accepting God’s grace.
Paul Tripp (a well known speaker and counselor) was asked questions about parenting teens. One of those that I want to start this series with is: “What goals do most parents have for their teenagers?”
If I were to make a list of the ones that I have heard at the top would be some like: “I want my teenager to get a job” “I want my teenager to go to college.” “I want my teen to listen to my rules.”
Those are some goals that I have heard over the years. You (if you are a parent) might have some of those now. None of those are bad in and of themselves but they are not the ultimate goal.
Paul Tripp in answer to that question said, (JBC, On Parenting)
Many parents have a simple goal for getting through their Child’s teenage years: survival. But this goal focuses simply on getting yourself through a difficult time…Naturally, every parent needs to have regulations to control the behavior of their children, but that is not enough of a goal. that sort of rule keeping is behaviorism.
I will continue next week to write about behaviorism and parenting. But this week I want to focus on something that can be seen in parents of teenagers. A sense that I want to survive these years, so that they can grow up into something better, something else. That goal is entirely selfish, not for the reasons you might think. Once you were a teenager, once you were trying to find out how you would live the rest of your life, and you made mistakes. But in that there was the grace of God that brought you to where you are at.
Paul Tripp put it this way,
People tend to see teenagers as a collection of raging, rebel hormones encased in skin. Of course, you can’t talk to a hormone. But this approach is a subtle denial of God and the Gospel…The world’s blame shifting comes straight out of the chaos of sin in the Garden of Eden. The Bible says our relationships and circumstances are merely the occasions in which our hearts express themselves. The heart directs teens.
It is not hormones or peer pressure that you need to be concerned about as a parent of a teen. The heart of your teen is what matters. It is what is driving them. Their search for love, acceptance, and belonging start and end with you. Leading them to the Gospel that you have embraced.
Romans 1:16 says,
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Success is defined by your whole life being changed and living that changed life addressing the heart of your teenager. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel but continually live it and speak of it with your teenager. The prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) knew what was right and still left his family, but then God graciously accepted him back into his family.
Next week I will be posting the second part of this series addressing the heart of your teen and behaviorism.