The teenage years are tough. As a human being transitions physically and emotionally from childhood to adulthood, the change can be uncomfortable and stressful for all involved.
Our culture has adopted the mentality that the teenage years are a battle to be survived; adolescents are sadly reduced to raging, rebellious hormones encased in skin. The Bible, on the other hand, would encourage you to embrace this stage of life. Teenagers are changing people in need of help, and God has intentionally positioned parents to be instruments of grace in their life. What a dramatically different perspective!
As the father of four (all my kids are now grown), I experienced firsthand the joys and struggles of parenting teens. I wouldn't for a second minimize the heightened tension for parents, but more importantly, there are issues that get exposed during this phase of life that make it full of opportunity.
Over the next three days, I want to share with you three fundamental doors of opportunity to look for during adolescence. Each of these doors present added stress in a parental relationship, but they give you unique access to central issues in your child's heart.
Open Door #1 - Insecurity
Teenagers are not secure people - I don't think you need to be full of discernment to discover that!
The teenager who sits at peace at the breakfast table can be an emotional disaster by lunchtime. Your daughter will go to bed comfortable with her looks and wake up distressed at the condition of her skin and the shape of her body. Your son, finally beginning to feel confident in his social circle, will make one embarrassing blunder and spiral into thinking that he has no hope for friends.
This time of insecurity provides many opportunities for you to listen, love, and encourage your teen with the gospel. Just think about the questions that your child wrestles with on a daily basis:
- Who am I?
- Am I normal?
- What is happening to my body?
- Do I look okay?
- What do people think about me?
- Do I have friends?
- What am I going to do with my life?
- Will I be a success or a failure?
- What is right and what is wrong?
- Who should I listen to for advice?
- Is God real?
- What does Jesus have to do with my life anyway?
The world of physical appearance, responsibilities, morality, and future are all scary and uncertain to a teenager. But this presents a wide open door for opportunity.
In the midst of their questions, significant biblical themes can be discussed, like the doctrine of creation, fear of man, sovereignty of God, and identity in Christ. In the context of their daily insecurities, you have an opportunity to help your child connect theology to everyday life. Each of these questions provides an open door to discuss, test, experience, apply, and internalize biblical truth.
But let's be honest - when your teenager wrestles with insecurity, it often spills out and results it difficulty for you. Their bad attitude and rude demeanor will be hurtful, but more importantly, they will confront the idols of your heart. Sadly, for many parents (myself included), instead of walking through this open door of opportunity, they will slam it shut in order to maintain comfort and control.
How are you doing? Are you vigilantly seeking open doors of opportunity? Or are you slamming them shut to defend the idols of your heart? Jesus came and died so that parents would have the power to embrace this opportunity, despite its difficulty.
UPDATE: The second installment of Open Doors has been posted here...