I can still recall when a dispute in the car led to silence between my daughter and when I tried to break that silence with a question, Sarah passionately replied, “You’re not my friend, Mom. Don’t try to be my friend. You will never be my friend.” Well, guess what? Today we are friends; but during her teen years, not so much. She was right, God hadn’t called me to be her friend; He had enlisted me to be her mom first and foremost. That meant making tough decisions, and saying no when it was hard; all the while guiding her, and her two brothers, on a path that would help lead them towards the plans the Lord had for each of them.
Reading Psalm 103 from the Amplified Bible was a clear reminder to me, once again, that God has good intentions for each of us, but that they are age appropriate plans. He is the God, “Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]” (vs. 5, AMP)! What great instruction for every parent and teen, to understand. We become persuaded in our minds that God actually is withholding from us, just like Satan convinced Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3). He twists and manipulates by convincing us that God is this Miserly, Hard hearted, Judge, Who simply delights in making us miserable by telling us what we can’t have or do. But those are twisted facts. God doesn’t try to withhold from anyone; in fact, we discover “our Lord and our God, you are like the sun and also like shield. You treat us with kindness and with honor, never denying any good thing to those who live right”(Psalm 84:11, CEV). Unfortunately though, we want what we want, whenever we decide we want it. I was a teen once and I raised three of them. I know how it works. I understand the pressure of both roles.
As a parent, we must be careful that we don’t set our children up for failure by failing to parent them. Yes, they might be mad and throw a fit…goodness… our three-year-old grandson thinks he knows what is best for him, even when it might be dangerous or unhealthy. Our young daughters and sons must know that God desires to give them what they need when the time is right for them to have it. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries. When Pat and I would prohibit our kids from participating in an event we didn’t have peace about; we gave them permission to be mad and disappointed; however, they needed to be respectful. We also reminded them we would be the ones standing before the throne of God answering for every decision we made as parents. They too, will one day stand before God and offer an answer for the decisions they make. We must, oh how we must, help them discover Godly wisdom. Nothing is gained for them if we fail to teach our children this truth; when they “… put God’s work first and do what He wants. Then the other things will be yours as well” (Matthew 6:33, CEV). God has a proper time and season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3) and we, as parents, must be brave enough and strong enough to guide them in this truth. At age 14, a young woman may believe that all her problems are solved when she gets a boyfriend or doesn’t need to obey the rules set forth by a parent. A young man may believe that he is old enough to make up his own mind and hang out with “whoever, whenever” and disregard the wisdom and instruction of parents. Our youth today have a false understanding of security and when insecurity grows, they turn to the tools the god of this world uses to destroy them: disobedience, ingratitude, and disrespectfulness. These lead them down the path to rage, lying, alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, and even murder. Our youth today are full of rage and willing to kill others; how did we get here? We became their friends.
Our children have been caught up in a world that believes waiting is bad and they must have it, NOW. (Who am I kidding? I have also been caught up in that lie). Satan is a master at taking good things and quickly corrupting them. Take the cell phone; a good thing to have, but it quickly became a tool for unholy behavior. Texting soon became “sexting” and before we knew it, Apps appeared for the purpose of sending pictures, any picture, with the promise it would “disappear.” We saw how well that worked when celebrities had naked photos slip out from “the cloud.” A wise set of parents I know did not give their daughters the privilege of texting on their phones until after high school. Did they live? yes. They did more than live; they learned how to communicate with others…through talking.
Listen, I don’t profess to be the mom who never made any mistakes. Believe me, I made plenty and I’m sure my kids have the list formed in their mind. I do, however, have a passion and a desire for our children to grow up with an understanding of who they are in Christ and what Jesus died to give them. They, just like we, are accepted by Him, loved by Him and chosen to do good works for Him. We all have a God-designed purpose. If you are a parent striving to raise your children to be Christ-followers, then you must be one yourself. Don’t compromise the Word of God to be your children’s friend. Your call to parent is your most important call right now; don’t give up, or give in, because it gets hard. Be the parent they need; they have enough friends.
Here are ten suggestions for right now on parenting...
1- Set age appropriate rules and guidelines. Be balanced in what you allow and won’t allow.
2- Parent as a team. Do not dishonor the other parent by superseding each other’s authority. Come together, discuss the situation and then make decisions. Be a unified front.
3-Show respect for the other parent at all times. Do not badmouth one another.
4-Be consistent with your discipline and make sure it matches the crime.
5-Don’t base your love on behaviors. When a child misbehaves or breaks the rules, offer loving correction. Don’t ever withhold your love.
6- Understand that love must be tough at times. You are not lacking love when you discipline; you lack love when you are cruel. The most loving gift you can give your child is to parent with rules.
7- Be truthful, always. A lying parent breeds a lying child. When they see you speak “little white lies” or “twisted truth”- they believe they can too.
8- Be committed. Your child needs to know that you are committed to them, as you are to the Lord. Raise them under the instruction of the Lord.
9-Promise them you won’t throw them in the Lion’s Den. You won’t allow them to be put in situations where they are tempted beyond what they can control. You will help steer them from participation or engaging in unholy behaviors.
10-Teach them the Ten Commandments; especially the Honor your father and mother part; which according to the Amplified Bible means to "esteem and value as precious" (Ephesians 6:2).
What would you add to the list? What advice would you offer to young parents just starting the parenting journey?