There have been quite a few articles floating around about the lack of articles and support for middle aged moms who are raising teens. Information for young moms is abundant, but for the mom raising Christian teens? *crickets*crickets*
The vacuum is real.
I think I know why.
Parents of teens realize they don’t know it all. Parenting check lists are out the window. Parents of teens have been there, done that. We listen with patient tolerance as younger moms offer unwarranted “expertise.”
We’re holding on to grace and God’s promises with both hands.
We know what it means to have faith and to watch in anticipation as you take off the training wheels and let your kids ride away for themselves. It’s wobbly and hopeful and wonderful and frightening all at the same time.
Parents of teens know how to pray hard. We pray hard because we know we’ve made mistakes and haven’t been the perfect parent. We pray hard because we know how rough the world is and what our kids are up against. We know how sin messes up lives and how Satan would like to sift our kids like wheat.
By the time you have a teen you’ve grown up yourself. You wish you hadn’t felt so free to write off the mom that struggled here, or so quick to comment about the issues we saw over there. In short, humility begins to be a virtue in your own life and judgement takes a back seat.
By the time you have teens, the sanctification process is in full swing and you see yourself in your teen’s struggles.
You’re less apt to comment on the drama, apathy, tears, hormones, sin, and failures of your almost adult teen who is caught in the flux and flow of trying to get wisdom.
Our teens are not born wise. They are in and out of varying states (depending on the child, day, time of month, etc….) of what the Proverbs categorizes as wise, simple, foolish, and full blown scorners.
This should not be a shock to you because this is your story, too. Every day you wake up a sinner and go to bed a sinner. Hopefully you are fighting the spiritual battle and leaning in to God’s word every day a little more. Reliance and submissiveness are becoming the norms. Like mountain climbing, we go before them, and reach down with a helping hand to pull them up when needed. We point out the glorious scenery, give them support, tell them where the rocks are loose and where the ledges are. We encourage them to keep climbing.
This past week, my husband and I attended a conference where the topic was on discipleship. Discipleship was defined as “leveraging all that you are and have to help someone else become more like Christ.” Discipleship does life “as you go” and models how to live.
The truth is that our teens have been watching our “model” of life for years. They’ve picked up what we really believe by watching us.
Our kids watch us to learn how to live. Our teens already know how we live.
Hopefully, you’ve modeled a life of integrity. Hopefully you are the same person at home as you are in church. Hopefully you build others up in front of their faces and behind their backs as well. Hopefully you are magnifying Christ in the little choices, the secret choices. Hopefully our character is like Daniel who, when nobody else was watching, would not defile himself with the king’s meat. Daniel’s private choices, prepared him for the BIG stuff later on. Choosing death over false worship and facing the lion’s den was not a hard choice because he had made right choices all along.
But because we are not perfect, our kids need to see repentance modeled. They need to see repentance from a parent before they know how to repent themselves. Saving face with your teens or others by smoothing things over, blame shifting, quasi-telling someone you are “sorry they were hurt”, is not modeling Biblical repentance. Repentance is a turning away, an agreeing with God about your sin which you now see as wicked.
Raising teens means dealing with their sin with humility and grace, restoring ‘in the spirit of meekness, watching yourself, lest you be tempted.” There are no shortcuts and dealing with sin is a life long process. If you had a quick fix for sin, you would have ceased from being a sinner yourself.
Don’t condemn their brand of sin while excusing your own.
I once overheard a mom giving her daughter an angry verbal tongue lashing over her “sin.” In public. In front of her friends. She talked to this girl worse than she would talk to a dog. She was out of control but felt righteous in her judgement. This mom did more damage than good. She used her tongue inappropriately to point out the “sin” in her kid. This is blindness and madness.
Accusations close the heart. Angry words build walls. “The kindness of the Lord leads to repentance.” Romans 2:4
Our teens may be tempted to sin in ways that don’t tempt us. Younger people seem to be more tempted in the areas of immoral desires, pride, cravings for wealth or power, jealousy, envy, apathy, laziness, or an argumentative spirit.
Maybe our pet sins are different, but they are still an affront to the face of a good and holy God. The most important lesson we can teach a child is that God is good and wants us to repent when we mess up.
As Grace-receivers ourselves, we point to the Grace-Giver.
Dealing with the struggles of an adult child can really be like a mirror, reminding us of the idolatrous struggles we recognize in our own life every day.
Have you ever failed to love the Lord with all your heart? This is at the root of all our struggles. When we get this right, our vision changes, our heart aligns to what God wants and we go to Him for “rest.” We repent and turn back.
Christians who have received grace extend grace. Christians who have received forgiveness extend forgiveness.
The alternative to asking forgiveness and finding grace is to cover up our sin. We ignore it, excuse it, or justify it. This leads us away from the cross, deeper into isolation, away from help, and vulnerable to spiritual attack. The mom (or teen) who covers up their sin will not prosper.
When your teen is sinful, bring them to the foot of the cross where they find forgiveness.
If we really believe that Jesus is the answer and that grace is for sinners, we won’t pretend that we don’t need help with our sin or grace and forgiveness. And we won’t isolate our kids when they come to us for help.
I told you it gets messy, and that is the very reason I believe that few people write about raising teens– which is a shame. The grace and hope that is available for sinful men and women is available for teens as well.
And as a mom of four teens, I’m thankful for grace and strength and for the Word of God that points us all to the cross and to the goodness of our God.
Your turn: What do you think? Do you agree? Why do you think the internet is quiet when it comes to raising teens?