Saturday, September 8, 2012

Help Me Jesus, I Have Another Teen!

We are entering the teen years for the second time. 

Help us Lord!

Our oldest daughter will be 13 next month.  Though she's not officially a "teen" yet, she's already taken us to a new stage of parenting.  Don't get me wrong, we've been there before.  We have a 16 year old son who has really "broke us" into the teen years.  We look back and see that we made so many mistakes with him.  We're determined not to do the same thing again--by the grace of God. 

The biggest mistake that I made was trying to parent a 12 year old like I would parent an 8 year old.   With young kids the issues are so simple.  Things are either "right" or "wrong", "black" or "white". Parents of young children tell them what is right and what is wrong, and for the most  part they accept it.  We teach them about life, and they believe it.

Until they are around 12.

Some call this stage the argumentative stage.  Hmm... I wonder why?  (Sarcasm inserted here.)  This is the stage when young people begin to take ownership of their own beliefs.  It's a time when they are discovering who they are and what they believe.  They don't want to simply swallow what they've been fed.  They've discovered that they have opinions and ideas about life.  And they think they're right.  And yes, they are very eager to express them!  They are also beginning to develop their own likes and dislikes.  It's like they're detaching themselves from Mom and Dad and developing their own distinct identity.  They don't want to be known and Mom or Dad's kid.  They're people too.  This is a good thing.

And when Mom or Dad don't allow their teen to grow up, life becomes a battle ground.  And yet, the wise parent can't just let this teen have complete automony. Though they're convinced that because they've learned a few things about life they've got everything figured out, they don't.  They have MUCH to learn.  Don't we all?

Ed and I are learning that parenting during this season changes.  Now we have to teach the budding adults HOW to make decisions about life.  We must teach them HOW to discern between right and wrong. And they need the freedom to blow it.  (This is so hard!)  We've found that we have to loosen our grip more and more.  That means I won't like every decision my child makes.

 We're preparing them for life apart from us. 

There is much more I could say about this stage, but I wanted to share something the Holy Spirit gave me in response to my cry for  help.  I was concerned about the music my daughter was listening to.  The music seems pretty innocent, but I have learned that Satan is sneaky.  He makes his lies looking innocent and appealing so that he can destroy us.  I knew the answer wasn't to say "You can't listen to that!"  Tried that before and it didn't work.  (They sneak behind your back.)  I knew I couldn't ignore it either.  So I asked the Father.  And He responded with some very specific questions that I can use to prompt discussion with her, and that she can use to help her determine if she is listening to or watching something she shouldn't be.  I found myself convicted and challenged by these questions as well.  Here are the questions:

1.  What is this song (show, book, etc.) about?
2.  Is it promoting messages( or themes) that are: truthful, beautiful, noble, right or pure-no hint of sin ? why or why not? Give examples.   Is the (song, book, etc.)  itself beautiful, true, noble, right, good, or pure?  (This is a time to admire the music, the singer's voice, the poetic arrangement or other artistic characteristics, writing, acting, directing, or other skills etc.)
3.  Is anything in the (song, etc.) admirable?  (Is it an example to be followed?) Give specific examples. (This can refer to characters, the messages, the writer, singer  or anything related to the song.)
4.  Does this song or movie, etc. inspire or help me to love God more?  Or does it fill my mind with messages that encourage me to love someone or something else more than God?
5.  Therefore, who is behind the message, God or Satan?  Keep in mind that Satan is the Father of Lies.
6.  Should you listen to, watch or read this?  Ask the Holy Spirit the question, and act on what he reveals.

As a parent, I need to hold them accountable and, if necessary, intervene when they are unable or unwilling to do the right thing.  Do this with lots of grace and LOTS of prayer.

You'll have to guide your child through these questions.  It's hard!  Give them some  personal examples.  Be sure to Listen to them, and ask them lots of questions to help direct them.  You really want to help them to come to their own conclusions.  This is new for them, so they will need help. 

The goal is that they might be prayerful and alert.  We want them aware of the Devil's schemes and not a mindless drone that follows the crowd.  Just because it's fun, popular and they like it, doesn't mean it's good for them.  On the flip side, just because it doesn't have Jesus in it or teachings from the bible in it, doesn't make it bad.   We want them to consider why they do what they do.  I need to do this as well.  I certainly don't do this enough myself.

At the end of the day, the best thing we can do as parents is PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! 

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