As of this month, my wife and I now officially have two teenagers in the house. We have four sons, and the second just turned 13, the older, at the cusp of 15. I know its cliché, but I don’t see myself as being old enough to have two teenagers, but yet, here we are…ready or not!
As Susan and I have gone throughout our years together, we have been given a lot of advice about parenting. Some of it has been good advice and some of it not so good, but if it has been anything, it has been plentiful. Seems as though anyone who ever had a kid had advice for us about parenting. One of the interesting themes of a lot of this advice has been what I call the advice of “naysayers”. They meant well, but the “naysayers” always seemed to communicate one central thought; “parenting is just one difficulty followed by another”
When our first was born, the naysayers said “just wait till he begins to crawl!”
When he began to crawl, the naysayers said, “just wait till he starts to walk!’
When he began to walk, the naysayers said, “its so easy with one…just wait till you have two!”
After we had two, the naysayers said, “just wait till you have three!”
HA! Gotcha naysayers! We were blessed with three and four at the same time.
In the last few years as we have defied the naysayers by enjoying all the stages of our children’s development, the naysayers have been saying, “just wait till they’re teenagers!”
That’s a familiar refrain in our culture. The teenage years are declared to be so scary and so wrought with danger that parents should retreat to the bunker and just hope to simply survive these tumultuous years. At least that’s what the “naysayers” say.
As with all the other stages of development, God has proven to Susan and I that He will not be defined by “naysayers”, that parenting does not have to conform to the world’s posture of fear and anxiety, and that the teenage years don’t have to be simply a time of survival….for the parents or the teen.
We’re being reminded that the teenage years are a time of great opportunity. This is a time of unequaled opportunity to provide “real life” reinforcement to the God-focused and Bible-saturated instruction you’ve given throughout the early years. Now is the time where life begins to rub up against the theoretical, and our teens will either see their faith proven, or defied. Now is the time they need us more than ever to engage relationally and walk next to them as they experience this life. Now is not the time for us as parents to “retreat to the bunker” as our teens are “on the battlefield” where they are exposed to influences that to this point we’ve only been able to warn them about. Now is the time for us to engage in that battle with them, to be on our knees for them, to equip them with Gospel Truth, and to ensure that they know we love them no matter what.
Speaking with the naïveté of a dad of two young teenage boys, I think the teenage years are a wonderful time of opportunity. I don’t think I’ve got blinders on. I know they will not be easy. They haven’t been easy yet. But I believe they can be good, and productive, and fruitful, and I have hope in a God who uses difficulty to produce a godly harvest…who uses the heat of the furnace to produce the fruit of godliness.
The naysayers will say, “just wait till they start driving!” Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.