Being a Parent is Intimidating Enough So How Can I Be the One to Pass On My Faith?
Tis true! But we desire to be a church family to walk with you as you parent your child.
We get it. Please watch (and laugh).
We get it.
A lifetime oddity about me is I can’t wait for a child to become a 6th grader. I can’t wait! But I know I am weird about that. The norm is parents are intimidated of becoming parents of teenagers. There have been too many parents-of-teenagers jokes, news stories, legendary stories, etc., to feed this fear.
To add to this fear we now live in this crazy, technological, and fast-paced world—a world which your child is way more adept with than you are. For so many reasons, parents think they have lost what “training up a child” means when their child becomes a teen. When kids were younger, parent and child could pray together at bedtime, maybe read Bible stories together. But how do you do this with a teen? How do you do this with a teen who doesn't like you in his/her bedroom?
Parents certainly don't feel like you are the #1 influence. Even if I showed you all of the studies that support this true fact, you live with the “teenage monster” in your home. Think more about it. Who is telling you that you are the #1 influence? Certainly no one in pop culture, unless you catch those anti-drug commercials and believe them (for that solo moment you get to stop life a bit and watch a commercial). We, as your church family, are telling you that. Yet I wonder if that also makes you feel intimidated.
As parents you also feel like you are racing against time. Suddenly your babies are within years of leaving the home, heading off to college, getting married, etc. Just as the darling cherubs turn into teenage monsters, you are also realizing that there are only a few short years left while they are still under your influence. Of course, as parents you will always have influence but for this short season you have legal covering and influence in a way that completely changes when your child turns 18. (When they are over the age of 18 you can join me in a support group for how to cope when your prayers don’t feel like enough and you can’t ground your child anymore. My source of strength lately is this book, The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children by Stormie Omartian.)
As parents you are also literally racing with time. There are so many things, mostly good, that absorb all of a teen’s time. School stuff, athletic stuff, music stuff, leadership stuff, social stuff, and hopefully spiritual stuff. The home too often becomes a drop-off service and a place for your child to sleep. Family meals are too often in the family car. Which then adds guilt to the intimidation because how did you allow your family to get into a rhythm like this? And how do you stop the ever-faster cycle you are living in? Everything feels so important.
In the midst of this guilt and intimidation you know you still need to train a child in the way he should go, Proverbs 22:6. You know you need to do more—or something. Yet you can’t even get into a family pattern of making it to church every Sunday. You can’t even do something as minimal as that?
So these thoughts beat you up as you honestly struggle with what is right:
- I can't disciple my own child because I've never been discipled myself.
- We pay the children’s/youth director to do that.
- I'm just not a teacher.
- I don't know the Bible and can't answer their questions.
- My kids won't listen to me.
- It's too late; I would start this if I'd known about it before my kid became a teenager.
- We're not cool enough to relate to our kids; the children’s/youth director does that better.
- I'm too busy providing for my kids' needs; I bring them to church to take care of their spiritual needs.
- I'm not qualified; I've never been to seminary.
As true as these excuses are, Janice or I are not you. We will never be you in your child’s life. We will never love your child as much as you do. We will never be with your child as much as you are. And this is always true--when a crisis comes, your child always wants you first.
This is a lot of exhausting truth. You still with me?
We get it. So we start from here.
- We pray for you.
- We will resource you.
- We will be your biggest cheerleaders. Be vulnerable with us and you will hear specific words to speak peace and truth to you.
- We will serve with you. Often it is service to others in Jesus' name that helps children and teens see needs beyond their own and feel the call to make a difference.
- Everything we plan on the church calendar will be worth the priority of your time. This is a promise.
- Being a part of a church family gives you lots of other trusted people who will guide, mentor, and show your child what a mature Christian looks like.
- Being a part of a church family gives you many people’s wisdom to glean from. You are not alone.
- We can’t wait to pass on such nuggets to you when we learn them. Such as this from a recent book I read (and you should too, moms): “Jesus doesn’t participate in the rat race. He’s into the slower rhythms of life, like abiding, delighting, and dwelling—all words that require us to trust Him with our place and our pace.” –Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely.
- We will celebrate with you. There is so much of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit to get excited about as a family (and as a church family) in witness-inspiring ways. Let's look at Jack-o-lanterns and turkeys and candy canes with Jesus' heart and tweak our own--and maybe our tongues, too, to share Jesus' with others.