Parenting teen aged children presents special challenges. One such challenge is the tendency to think only about surviving the teen years. Parents focus on things like how to get teens to avoid dangerous technology, how to get into a good college, or how to avoid sex, drugs and alcohol. Survival is important but Christian parents also need to think strategically about a bigger picture.
Parenting teenagers is more fulfilling when we help them think about the dangers and dignity of life's grand mission.
Consider two amazing teenagers in Scripture. Joseph was seventeen when he was thrown into slavery in a culture hostile to his parents' values. He was betrayed, sold as a slave and taken to Egypt. Yet he was true to God, true to his family, reliable as an employee, and faithful through difficult trials.
Then there's the account of Daniel. He was a youth (a teenager) when he was taken away from parents to a corrupt culture in Babylon. Not only did Daniel survive, he rose to the top of government under a heathen king. He was true to God, faithful in trials, and an asset to several kings.
Both Joseph and Daniel were prepared for their missions in life. Their stories send the clear message that parents can and should expect teens to face tough challenges.
One deception rampant in our world is that life should be easy for our kids. Consequently many don't take on responsibilities until they are 30 years old. Some never grow up.
In my book, Parenting Unchained, I wrote about the launching process that Jesus modeled for us in working with His disciples. The bulk of Christ's teaching in the last part of His life was to prepare His disciples for spiritual and cultural battle. He didn't suggest that life would be easy.
We make a big mistake when we send the message to our kids that life should be easy, or that life is about being comfortable, free of opposition, or that taking care of one's own needs is the definition of success.
If you have a 10-12 year old, begin now to consider how you will parent through the teen years. Just as Jesus made it clear that life is tough, but His mission was worth it, parents must use the teen years to develop a sense of life's big mission. Your teen will aim at the target you set.