Once upon a time my children had me on a pedestal…
They thought I knew everything, could fix anything, and certainly didn’t struggle with the same frustrations and temptations they faced each day.
To them, I had it all together.
Honestly, when they were little, that Parenting Pedestal was a nice place to hang out. It was sweet to see them look at me with those big, trusting eyes, confident that I could fix every hurt in their lives.
When they were little, there were lots of hard truths that they just didn’t need to deal with and that’s why they had their father and me. It was our responsibility, and truly our privilege, to keep them shielded from the parts of life that were just too big, too scary, and too hard to understand.
I wish I could still live on that pedestal for my teens!
I think sometimes they wish I were still up there, too. However, as my carefully protected little kids have become responsible teens who need to face this world on their own each day, it’s become obvious that it’s time for me to get off that pedestal.
I’ve had to rappel from my lofty position of “She Who Knows It All,” to the lowly position of fellow learner and fellow struggler with my precious teens. Dear moms and dads, may I encourage you to jump off the pedestal, as well?
Our teens don’t need the false façade of spiritual “got-it-all-togetherness” from us.
Instead, they need parents who are willing to transparently share their own personal struggles. Our transparency is the very vehicle God will use to knit our hearts together with our teens’ hearts in order to preserve our role as counselor, cheerleader, and unconditional lover of their quirky, awkward teenage selves.
Yes, there are some struggles that our teens just don’t need to hear about! Anything that would destroy their foundation of trust and respect for us is something to keep simply between our spouse, our God, and us in order to protect their hearts. But really, how many of our struggles actually fall into that category?
In the everyday, “adulting” things of life, transparency is the road to relational intimacy with our kids.
Our teens are going to face new relationship issues that are so much more difficult than the playground “I don’t wanna be your friend” tiffs they faced. Do they know that you struggle at times in your relationships? Do they know that sinners can just rub each other wrong? Do they know that God uses that uncomfortable rubbing as sandpaper to smooth out the rough edges of your character? Have you told them how you work through those relationships? Have you shared your failures as well as your successes? Have you told them it’s worth it?
They need to know!
Your teens are going to face increasingly difficult immoral temptations. Do they know that just because you’re a grown-up, adult Christian doesn’t mean that you don’t face temptation on a daily basis? Do they know that in the same way the media tries to tempt and entice them to make bad choices, you are tempted and enticed, as well? Have you told them the deliberate steps you take to walk away from those things that could trip you up? Have you told them how you seek forgiveness when you fail? Have you told them that God has given you second chances and He offers the same second chances to them?
They need to know!
Your teens are going to walk through the process of making their faith personal; they’re going to have to decide what they believe and why. Their questions may cause you discomfort, uneasiness, and maybe even fear. Have you told them that it’s okay to question? Have you shared the spiritual areas that have caused you confusion and doubt? Have you told them that God is big enough to handle their questions and that He certainly isn’t surprised by those questions? Have you told them that doubt isn’t sin and that they’ll come out the other side a deeper person?
They need to know!
This is a time of life when your teens may look at you and your family standards and they may simply disagree. They may question your convictions. They may reevaluate your rules. They may disparage your walk with the Lord. Have you told them that it’s ok? Have you told them that your greatest desire is that they would look like Jesus; even if that means they don’t look just like you! Have you told them that God has a unique path for them and that their obedience needs to be first and foremost to God’s will in their life?
They need to know!
I can’t lie to you… I miss Pedestal Parenting sometimes.
I wish my teens would just “take my word for it” and do what I think is best for their lives, but I’m confident that their questions, and struggles, and battles with temptation, and yes, even their disagreement with some of my own personal convictions are the very tools God is using to mold and shape them into exactly who He intends them to be.
Our teens don’t need us to be perfect; they need us to be vulnerable.
Our teens don’t need us to live like spiritual saints; they need us to live daily as forgiven sinners.
Our teens don’t need us to have all the answers; they need us to learn to listen to their questions. (Might I add: without anger, shock, dismay, horror, or any of the other emotions we martyr parents can so quickly display!)
Most importantly, our teens don’t need us to force them into a mold that looks just like us; they need us to set them free to grow, encourage them to seek Jesus first, and finally, love them passionately and unconditionally.
In fact, they need us to love them just like Jesus loves them… Patiently, sacrificially, and transparently!