As we disciple our teens to follow Christ, we move progressively into the role of a mentor. Having laid the foundation, we are able to allow them increasing responsibility in their own studies of the Bible, and in our family worship times.
Ideally, your child will move to become a mature, solid-food-eatin’ near-adult follower-of-Christ.
Let’s be real for a second. This world is not ideal. Our teens are not ideal. We parents are not ideal. I’ve been giving you all some tips and ideas for discipling kids as part of the Raising Grown-Ups ~ The Great Commission at Home.
Those tips are all well and good if you’ve had your children from birth, you were a mature Christian already, you were serious about discipling your kids. But what if that’s not the case?
What if you’re parenting teens… and it’s not going so well?
When my husband and I had two teens – along with an infant and an older baby – we were new Christians. Our teens had come from a terrible situation – and they’d only been with us for a few years. It was spiritual chaos.
It was chaos period.
So, what do we do when we’re Raising Grown-Ups and it’s not going so well? What if family worship is the last thing on our minds? What if we just screwed the windows shut to keep our little darlings in at night – or their sweet friends out?
I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to have boundaries. It’s even OK to institute new boundaries that never existed prior to this moment. It is perfectly acceptable (and really, really advisable) to have consequences for breaking those boundaries. Even new consequences.
Here’s what’s NOT OK: It is not OK to throw in the towel. You do not have the right to quit.
I know. That’s a terribly hard truth. You can curl in a ball in the corner of the bathroom floor and cry if you want. (I did that plenty of times.) But, you have to get back up. Why? Because that kid that is wreaking havoc needs you. God gave that child YOU, and He WILL equip you for the job. It may not feel like it, but He will.
Joshua 1:9 says: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Sure, God was commissioning Joshua to lead the Israelites into Canaan, and you’re not exactly going to war. (I promise you, this is not war – even if it feels like it.) Yet, I believe His promise to Joshua can apply to our parenting as well. He has given us our kids, one way or the other, and He will be faithful to go with us into the “battle”.
Know, though, that there were instructions before that ‘Be strong and courageous’ stuff. Joshua 1:8 says: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” We have to meditate on His Word and do what it says! Maybe you should just read all of Joshua 1. I’ll wait…
The hard truth is that, sometimes, when it’s not going well, we started it. We need to get right with God before we can ask our kids to follow suit. One of the best things I ever heard out of the mouth of my now-adult-girl was, “You’re different now. Can you tell me why?” Because, you see, I couldn’t do much discipling when I was far from God.
SO, as far as boundaries go, here’s the deal: Your teen lives in your home. Period. It’s OK to require behavior, and it’s OK to ban behavior. It’s also OK to search their rooms to ensure that your rules are being obeyed. After all, it is your home, and you are accountable to the Lord.
I’m not going to tell you what your boundaries should be. I believe you should set those with your spouse, after seeking wise counsel and earnestly praying. Every situation is different, and forcing a sullen fourteen-year-old to sit through a church service each week is much different than trying to force a defiant seventeen-year-old into the car on Sundays.
We’re still the adults. Even if we’re flawed. Even if we’re not the bio-parents. When our teens are still at home, it’s a good idea to have boundaries.
Fight the good fight, Mom or Dad. Be strong and courageous. May the Lord your God go with you.
Are you parenting a teen? How’s it going? What’s your best tip for discipling teens for Christ?
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is a children’s writer with a love for God’s Word, history, wisdom and small people. Her work has appeared in magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr.; Upper Room Ministries’ Pockets and Devozine; CBH Ministries’ Keys for Kids, and Cobblestone Group’s FACES and Odyssey. Her work also appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters.