Recently, I’ve noticed a significant number of people interviewed about their growing up years and how difficult their family life was due to their teenage rebellion toward authority and rules. Does it really have to be that way? Do families have to be held hostage by rebellious and lazy teens only to reminisce later in life with a few laughs and informal apologies? Why does the pass between childhood and adulthood become so turbulent?
I wish I knew the remedies to all of those situations and could sell you a best-selling book explaining the secrets of raising healthy and compliant children. However, I didn’t fare so well through my teen years, of which my parents would willingly attest, and am currently right in the middle of my own daughter’s teen years, from which I am writing from current events. Yes, I know, the pious parents of perfect progenies are beaming right now with pride and false humility, but even Yahweh’s parenting of Israel didn’t turn out well during their teen years either. So I take solace in knowing, first of all, that the ‘law’ will only frustrate and create upheaval. Secondly, the Spirit of grace will triumph victoriously as we see in the example of Christ. Now, how to apply that to the family right now?
Yes, the children of Israel were a handful. Stubborn, hard-hearted and prideful were but a few of their colorful characteristics, yet Yahweh never abandoned them. Then and now, He always kept the vision of His ultimate intention reminding Him of their value to Him and to the world around them. No matter your experience, vision has to play a huge part in keeping your sanity as a parent and not trespassing into the soulish regions of your emotions that would compromise your relationship with the gift that Yahweh has given to you to govern and steward for Him. Vision.
Another important element of traversing this parenting paradigm is grace. Grace is a spiritual gift from Yahweh that empowers you to stay true to the positional and functional relationship you possess with your teen. Have you ever found yourself arguing, or discussing energetically, with your teen and realized that your focus was how they were or were not functioning, not realizing that they are processing the entire conversation from a positional perspective of acceptance and value. Grace establishes the positional foundation by which the functional elements of the relationship become important. We must realize that saying, “I love you.”, doesn’t always translate to them what you really mean, “I value you.” Our teens are looking for significance in a world that is ready to supply a steady stream of false fulfillment. Grace.
With the ultimate vision of releasing our charges into the world at the appropriate time, we must realize that the transition from law to grace is not easy. One day they must stand on their own two feet, living and loving life to the fullest without destroying themselves or others, by the grace of God. However, correcting every little mistake or lecturing them before they can even make a mistake might win you some points with those who are judging your parenting skills at the moment, but will sabotage your relationship down the line. Law and grace don’t have to exist in self-contained classrooms. The purpose of law is to provide a set of guidelines pertaining to how something works, to receive the greatest benefit of the culture for which the laws exist, until they can ‘see’ it for themselves and navigate their lives accordingly. This latter stage of development is the grace stage where they are empowered by an internal desire to contribute. This entire process begins with our little babies as consumers, totally without the ability to provide for themselves. Their progression must then move toward becoming helpers, where they are rewarded for participating in the culture in which they live. Our hope then is that our children become contributors and begin to invest inside and outside of their culture without the possibility of reward or punishment. Finally, once all of that sets in, they begin to acknowledge the abundance of assets they possess and become distributors of their massive resources. And then they will be known as….parents. Parents.