Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Parenting Teens

His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." This was Job's regular custom. --Job 1:4-6

Next week both of my children will be in high school. It’s a major shift in parenting. While the older boy has a mental outlook that makes him think as a young child, the next boy has been steadily stretching himself toward the world outside our home.

Gone are the big-eyed tikes who saw me as king and hero. And just as puberty has made them different persons, their maturing is changing me as well.

In the past few weeks, especially with Isaac, I have had to start doing different things with them. I had to practically drag him off on a family road trip. He would have preferred to hang around town on the off chance he might run into friends at the county fair. He enjoyed the trip, but it took my best persuasive techniques.

Just before that I taught him and his brother how to shave. That was pretty cool. They have their own razors, and have learned the rituals of hot water, razor angle and direction, and the benefits of aftershave.

Yesterday I took Isaac out and we had THE TALK. It went pretty well. In fact, as we headed off to pick up Mom’s birthday present he said “I’m glad we had that talk, Dad. Let’s do it again.”

Last night I taught them how to play poker, emphasizing the dangers in the game. I think they got the message because this morning J. said “Let’s buy chips to play that game. I don’t think money is good ‘cause we might end up playing with cameras and cell phones and cars and stuff.” Right on dude!

But the real change for me isn’t the need to talk about girls, and marriage, and sex, and responsibilities. The real challenge is to explain how God fits into all of this. The Sunday School classes they have attended only took them so far. The example I set in prayer and reading scripture only set up a foundation. Even their professions of faith that led them to the baptistry in that now burned out sanctuary was just a step. My duty now is to pull the disparate elements of their encounters with faith into something that will sustain them. They need to see how it fits together. That is one of my final stages in parenting.

They need to know how to love and be loved. They need to see that unconditional love isn’t just that I loved them before we even met. That I love them now and forever, and I will not relinquish my adoption of them no matter what they might do.

(Side note: it was suggested that we might let J. go after what he did at our church. That indicates two things. 1. Some people do not understand how deep love is and that biology is not the only way to have your own children. 2. Some people do not understand what unconditional love means. I pity their small hearts. How will they ever come to know our LORD?)

They must learn that they are lovable for them to truly love. If they are to have a mate that will love them fully, they must realize that it is possible for someone to love them and not leave for another, not cheat on them. I suspect that infidelity comes out of the fear of not being lovable. That we suspect that we are not going to be loved and we seek to either pre-empt the hurt we feel is coming, or seek reassurance of our worth from at least one more person (who is probably doing the same lonely thing).

There is one more thing I need to stay steady in this last phase of my parenting. I need to take my relationships regularly to my king. I need to seek His advice as we go into these teen years so He may guide me. Like Job, I need to intercede for my children, and I must do it regularly, seriously, fervently.

For those who do not have this relationship, I offer again all that I have to help you find Him. Leave your email address in a comment and I will contact you so we can chat. We can delete it so you do not get unwanted spam.

May you all keep your eyes on the shepherd’s heels. They are leading us to a place of peace. God bless. I love you.

20 comments:

bjk said...

I think you are a good Dad....I think you are pointing them to the BEST ONE!!

BHGA said...

Bless you....and your greatest example of love, first and foremost is your love for God..we raised two girls and our heart's desire was they would seek and be blessed with Godly men...so far, so good...!!!

Donna

David said...

Well written and well thought out. Glad you have that kind of relationship with your sons. And yes, each child has it own unique needs and personalities that cannot be handled the same way.

Sounds like they have their heads screwed on correctly.

hazelorbs said...

i love your love for your children...your passion to show them life and God's presence in their lives. don't ever lose sight of your unconditional love that you bestow and teach...it is precious, valuable gift that many need to learn and discover. thank you for seeing God how He truly is and sharing Him with others. By the way...glad you liked my essay on art and christianity. eventually, i'm posting one on art and censorship.

Nancy said...

I just read your post about the church being burned down. I am astonished at that story.

I accidently set fire to my own house and my IQ is slightly higher than 50. It can happen to anyone. So sorry to read about that.

Wow.

Amazing. Sounds like you are a good daddy -- handling things so well.

Nancy

HeyJules said...

What a great dad you are! And those boys...learning about sex, shaving and poker all at once! I bet they are pretty excited about High School now! : )

You keep doing what you're doing. You've got the father of the year all locked up.

stu said...

What a great glimpse of Fatherly Love..I can read of your passion and love for your kids - and what an example you are of God in their life - loving unconditionally!

Your story as of late is heart wrenching. Thanks for your openess to share it.

The Curmudgeon's Rant said...

Thank you for visiting my blog the other day. I have been ill, or I would have repaid the visit immediately. This goes double because your children are from Haiti. Today is my first visit, but I can tell that you take the role of father very seriously. We have an awesome responsibility in training those who the Lord places in our care. I hope you consider taking your children on a mission’s trip to Haiti someday. Haiti Arise is a wonderful ministry and I know the experience would change their lives forever.

God bless,

David Meigs

PS- I love Canby! I used to work for Youth For Christ, and I have fond memories of the Canby - Campus Life staff and the kids that came to Black lake camp here in Washington. PTL

Tess said...

Wow--it's nice to get a glimpse of what life will be like when I have a teenage boy on my hands. Hard to believe my little toddler will be shaving someday....

Tess

Fred said...

LOL about "The Talk." Since I have daughters, my poor wife had to do it. But then, I think they had it all down pat from watching MTV. *sigh*

Ben said...

@Tess:
"Wow--it's nice to get a glimpse of what life will be like when I have a teenage boy on my hands. Hard to believe my little toddler will be shaving someday...." I agree! I can't imagine my little son shaving.

@Curious:
Kudos on handling "the talk" so well. I know it's got to be hard. Sounds like you're doing a great job there!

van.diesel said...

Great post - as a new dad adjusting to a new sleep schedule and a fussy (but cute) 3-week old, your words here have given me a a glimpse into what I'll be looking forward to. My wife and I are reminded constantly that there is NO WAY we could ever parent on our own. So far (in our vast 3 weeks of experience) parenthood has been a poignant illustration of our desperate need for Christ!

annie said...

Ah, the joys and heartbreaks of parenting teenagers! My last one entered high school herself this year.

I am just getting around to reading bits and pieces of your blog. I am so sorry for the heartbreak you have been through.

Cindy-Lou said...

How blessed these boys are to have a Christian dad! I read your post about adopting your boys... all of them ;) I have no words... that post touched my heart tremendously! What an awesome God we serve! Thank you so much for sharing!
Blessings,
Cindy

olief said...

hi,
thanks for leaving a message at my blog. i am a dutch four year old girl. i make my own pictures, and my mom helps me posting them...
all the best from holland!
olivia

Judas Hate said...

For lack of knowing your real name, how shall I address you?
(hmm..Jacob, Joshua, Jedadia, Jeremiah,.....Justin (full of justice). Yes, that suits you.
...Don't know why I fixed only on the J's, other than the power of "Job" in my mind.


Sir Justin,

I wish to thank you for your most loving, non-judgemental comment.

You are one of the few who actually get it (refering to my site). You either clearly see through the "hate", or forgive it and forego judgement.

Simplistic beauty in your words. Thank you so much.

If for nothing else, I have great respect for you for your love of your children and your faith in the Lord.

I have just scratched the surface of each of your blogs and look forward to reading all.

Uncharacteristic of me for caring of anothers oppinion, but I hope you read some of my positive work to balance out the angst of what I'm sure you read.

I admire your love, faith and conviction.

You are a gentleman and a schollar (one of the few left) and I humbly tip my hat to you sir.

Be well, happy and warmed by love!

Phyllis S said...

As always, refreshing, illuminating and uplifting.

Monica said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. My youngest started high school this year, too, and being the only girl, she's quite a bit of a handful.
You have a good blog here and I can see the ministry of reaching out to others on here.
Take care. :)

Faith said...

To read that someone would think that you would "let J. go" because of something he did is so - well, I'm at a loss for words. .sigh. People just don't get adoption do they? They don't understand love. They probably don't know Jesus.

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