Your son is eleven years old. He wishes he could play ball as well as his dad does, and he hugs you freely. Your daughter is ten. She loves to look through your jewelry box, and she plays up to her dad.
Now jump ahead a few years to a time when your kids will no longer regard you as perfect. Your son is 17 and chafes at having to obey you and do his school. Your daughter is 16 and spends more time on her mobile device than it took you to deliver her.
These can be painful days for us—days when we feel our teens pulling away from us in their quest for independence.
They have a surprise coming. Growing up may mean independence from mom and dad, but true maturity involves becoming more dependent on God.
In their struggle to become independent, the concept of becoming more dependent on God at this time in our children’s lives may feel like something to gag on, like finding a cockroach in that last bite of ice cream. We value self-reliance and so do our children. Is this trait getting in the way of our teens’ spiritual maturity?
It’s a delicate balance, this emotional need to be independent from parents and the spiritual need to be dependent on God. When my three children were teens, I prayed for them often, and I imagine you pray for yours as well.
Pray that they will know their unending need for God through his Son Jesus in very personal ways.
Pray that they will experience no shame in feeling a tremendous need for the God of the Universe.
Pray that they will know their utter and complete dependence on Him for everything in their lives and that, in any need or life decision, they will call on Him first, not as a last-ditch effort.
Teen maturity means becoming less dependent on parents, but maturity for Christian teens means a reliance on God. How can we help them become more dependent on their Creator? Here are some ideas to get you started:
-Encourage and allow time for one-on-one time with God in Bible reading, prayer, and meditation.
-Read biographies about giants in the faith like George Müller (or “Mueller”). Christianity.com has this to say about him as a brand-new Christian, which is a perfect example of the tug-of-war adults, especially men, feel between their need to be self-reliant and their need to depend on God for every necessity and life choice:
George went back to college without knowing how he was going to pay his tuition. He did something he thought was a bit silly for a grown man to do. He got on his knees and asked God to provide. To his surprise, an hour later a professor knocked on his door. He offered George a paid tutoring job! George was amazed! This was the beginning of George Mueller’s dependence on God.
-Do mission or volunteer work. This will teach them what they could never learn at home.
-Talk about Sunday’s sermon on the way home in the car or around the dining room table. It will reinforce the message and teach the children to compare what they’ve heard against the Word of God.
-Encourage your teens to hang out with other people who love God and aren’t embarrassed to discuss a particular verse or a whole topic of theology.
-Have you experienced an answer to prayer? Share it with your family.
-Model your own dependence on God. When trouble comes, pray first. Having a bad day? Ask God for help. When the car breaks down, pray as a family for transportation. When a breadwinner loses a job, pray together. Or try asking a teen to listen to you as you recite your latest verses of memorization. These are personal examples from my life. I’m sure you have others.
July is the optimal month for Americans to remember our self-reliance and independence. It can also be a good time to pray that our older teens will gain maturity by declaring their own personal dependence on God in the midst of their emotional and social independence from us.
HOW HAVE YOU HELPED YOUR TEENS GAIN A STRONGER DEPENDENCE ON GOD? SHARE YOUR IDEAS WITH US IN THE COMMENT BOX BELOW.
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Copyright © 2003-2015 by Sharon Watson
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