The fear in the room was palpable. I had just spoken to a group of moms and girls on the topics of social media. Some of the girls were in high school but most were only at the cusp of the teen years. Likewise, the majority of the moms also just beginning their trek into parenting teens.
After the girls were ushered into a separate room for their own follow-up discussion, I was left to field the moms’ questions. But you know how one person’s anxiety can get a whole group riled up? Yeah, that’s what happened. It didn’t seem to matter what I said to calm their anxious hearts, fear spoke louder.
I get it. I don’t think there is a harder job than raising kids in today’s culture. And especially raising kids who love the Lord. However, it is far from hopeless.
Years ago when my husband was a newly ordained pastor, he was leading a group of parents of teens through Paul Tripp’s book Age of Opportunity. At the time, we just had a toddler and a baby. But in listening in to him teach, the idea of parenting teens being an opportunity resonated with me.
It is an opportunity, though far from easy! But as parents, even with the increasing peer influence over our kids during the teen years, we still hold the #1 spot of shaping influencers. Therefore, we must not succumb to culture’s way of thinking that “teens will be teens,” and all we can do is hang on and hope it passes quickly. We must be PROACTIVE and LONG-RANGE in our approach. This takes forethought, steadfastness, probably some swimming upstream, and lots of prayer.
Even in (or maybe especially in) the trials and temptations we wish our teens would never face we have huge opportunities to go below the surface to their hearts to point them to Jesus. We must! If we only deal with the external behavior, we will miss helping them identify their idols and false identities. In leading them to see sin as more than bad behavior, but also wrong motives, desires and misplaced worship, they see more of why they personally need a Savior.
Statistics show 70-80% of teens who grow up attending youth group leave the church upon college and adulthood. There is a reason for this, and it’s not all of the sudden they just lost their faith. No, for most of these teens it comes down to duty or delight.
If our kids don’t know how desperately they need a Savior, what he did for them won’t be that great. But if they learn to see the idols of their heart, and hear about who Jesus is for them – his perfection as their true identity, not their striving to live the impossible perfect, sin-free life – their desire for God and the things of God will flow out of genuine adoration.
Obviously much more can be said about this; for what keeps grown-up kids in church click here. But if you are in the OKC metro and want to discuss more about gospel-centered parenting come join me for a 6-weeks class on Things Parents Can Do Now For the Teen Years Ahead. (Click link for details.)
If this interests you but you aren’t in OK, see my blog series from last spring (links below). But also be sure to subscribe to my newsletter as I plan to compile the teaching from this upcoming class into an eBook. Lastly, I would love to come to your church or school to speak to parents on this topic; speaking request can be made here.
- 8 Things Parents Can Do Now to Shape the Teen Years Ahead
- Before the Teen Years: Getting to the Heart of Sin with our Kids
- Before the Teen Years: Living Redemptively in Our Homes
- Before the Teen Years: Shepherd Hearts Rather Than Police Behavior
- Before the Teen Years: Your Kids Are Not Your Identity
- Before the Teen Years: Family First
**Affiliate links are used in this post but at no cost to you, only to help supplement maintaining this blog.