As I parented my teenager children, and as I counseled parents of teenagers, I became convinced that this was a time of unbridled opportunity. There are issues that get exposed in this delicate, scary, awkward, and volatile period of development that make it so full of opportunity.
There are three fundamental doors of opportunity that every teenage parent can walk through. On Thursday, I wrote about the door of insecurity; yesterday, I wrote about the door of rebellion. Today is the third and final post in this parenting series.
Open Door #3 - Discovery
One of the frightening things for parents is the sudden explosion of the teenager's world. All of a sudden, it seems as if the world gets bigger. The little boy or girl who played for hours on the backyard swing set now drives miles away to new locations, new experiences, and new friends. It's a time of discovery.
This stage of discovery is not always exciting for your teen; sometimes it will be scary and overwhelming. Surely there are moments when a teenager feels alive with their potential to discover new things, but a teen will also experience timidity and fear as they discover new things.
Regardless, there is no stopping the discovery of a teenager's world. Just think of all the new things your child will discover as they grow independent:
- New friends
- New locations
- New opportunities
- New expectations
- New responsibilities
- New thoughts
- New feelings
- New temptations
All of the joys and insecurities of your teenager's discovery will provide open doors of opportunity to help them understand and internalize fundamental truths. These include the sovereignty and providence of God, the ever-present help of the Lord, the nature of biblical relationships, spiritual warfare, discipline, self-control, contentment, faithfulness, trustworthiness, the nature of the body of Christ, the world, the flesh, the Devil, the principles of responsibility and accountability, biblical priorities, discovery, and stewardship of gifts (to name a few!)
Wow! That's quite the list. But this phase of teenage discovery provides wonderful opportunities for you to prepare your child for an effective and productive life in God's world.
A Sense of Calling
The teenage years are years of insecurity, rebellion, and discovery - combine that with the sin nature and you'll run into tumult and conflict with your child. Yet these are the very things that God uses to bring truth to light in the eyes and heart of your children.
If you want to be an instrument of grace, you need to confront the idolatry of your heart and take seriously the calling God has given you as a parent. Approach parenting with hope, patience, and courage, not because you have the skills and abilities, but precisely because you don't and God will provide in your weakness.
Parenting is one of the most important jobs you will ever have. And it's a job brimming with opportunity. Walk through those open doors and watch what God will do!