Monday I began a series on parenting teens in an ungodly
culture. If you haven’t read Monday’s blog, I suggest you begin here.
To recap a little, parenting teens in this time in history
is difficult is an understatement. We are facing unbelievable obstacles in
raising our children to be godly in an ungodly world.
The word “Teenager” didn’t exist until around the 1920’s. It
was around that time adults began to stretch out the time between childhood and
adulthood, prolonging the time the chi-dult
had to begin to accept real world responsibilities.
“One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the
way of the wicked leads them astray.” Proverbs 12:26
The teen years are now largely marked by irresponsibility. As
a culture we have given this age group adult permission to play a lot and work
a little. We have encouraged them not to take this time in life seriously in
any way other than doing well in school. We have to consider that teenagers are
not miniature adults nor are teenagers children however our society encourages
them to make adult decisions without first training them to think like adults. We
have given this age bracket a bag of mixed messages and expected them to sort
it out using tools they don’t have.
Our teens face tremendous peer pressure, biblically known as
fear of man everywhere they go. They feel the pressure to conform and perform
for their peers. They are confronted with pressures in the area of sexuality like
no other generation before them. The pressure involves gender identity issues,
sexting, Facebook romances, and acceptance of and participation in
Along with these pressures, there is the availability and
promotion of teenage alcohol and drug use.
"Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors.
Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable
behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world." 1 Peter 2:12 (NLT)
Clothing is often a huge problem area for parents and teens.
not envy the parents of girls. While I don’t spend much time in the Girls
or Junior department, in passing it seems that dowdy versus trashy seem to be
the only option.
“Like a gold ring in a
pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.” Proverbs
Parents are faced with spending a lot of money for clothes
that are hardly there, or are already full of holes! For the guys, the
obnoxious trend of beltless pants and shorts that are too baggy and must be
manually held up while walking continues despite all rational thinking.
“Do not let your adorning be external…” 1 Peter 3:3a ESV
As parents we really want our children to be known for their
character, for who they are inside not for whose name is on their pant or shirt
pocket. It is very difficult to avoid
the pressure our kids put on us to buy them the newest “in” thing.
Another area of discord among parents and teens is the friends
they choose. Teens do not always choose friends wisely despite our repeated
warnings and the protective barriers we set up for them. We know that bad company corrupts good
character (1 Cor 15:33) and we try and steer our kids toward godly, wholesome friends.
Usually we direct our kids toward the children of our friends because we know
them and how they have been brought up.
We assume they share our morals and values and won’t lead our teens
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the
companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20
And if all this isn’t
enough, we have the dating dilemma. Make
no mistake; your teens are faced with the dating dilemma when they are
away from your home. Even if your policy is no dating, there is no guarantee
they will abide by it in practice. If your Christian child goes to public
school they are surrounded by peers who are dating and probably having sex.
Dating is prompted as early as the 7th grade in
many schools! I recently had a mom tell me her 4th grader was
talking about a boyfriend/girlfriend pair at her school. You may soon be faced
with the school dance problem, a date for prom, and the big football game. The
Christian teen who does not have a pool of people to choose from for these kinds
of events is lonely and often angry they can’t be like everyone else. They
don’t care what 2 Cor. 6:14 says, they just want to go to homecoming like
As I said in the previous post, it may help you to understand
that like everyone else, the heart of a teen is fixed on indulging self. What
the teen thinks about, believes to be true (in any given moment), and desires is
what guides and directs his or her actions. Thoughts, beliefs, and desires are
almost always described as “feelings” by the teen. There is very little difference between the
heart of a teen and the heart of an idolater because like the rest of us, teens
worship “self” more than anything and anyone else.
If you want to help your child navigate these tumultuous
waters of the teen years recognize that the issues facing you and your child
are primarily heart issues. While sex, drinking, drugs, disrespect, clothing
choices are problems, they are not the problem,
they are symptoms of the problem which is found in the heart.
Unfortunately, what most parents accomplish in parenting is
to create kids who comply externally but are angry, bitter, resentful and
Pharisaical at heart. This is the result of demanding performance (out of
children of any age) without gospel discipline.
One of the most difficult situations we see in our
counseling center is parents who come in just blown away by their teenager who
begins spouting different beliefs about God and matters of faith. The parents
will tell us that they raised their kids in the church, they went to Awana,
memorized Bible verses, were in church youth group, Christian school or homeschool,
had family devotions and one day seemingly out of nowhere they child begins to
verbalize disagreement with all of these things in one way or another.
These are kids who would say they “got saved” or “asked Jesus into their heart” can tell
me all the “requirements” for salvation, can point to a time in their life
where they prayed or walked an aisle and many would say they have been
baptized too, but now they live like the unsaved.
First, as hard as it is to hear, no matter what a person
says or does, no matter how they claim to have gotten saved, if there is no
evidence of regeneration in that person’s life, no fruit of that salvation, you
would be wise to question if there has been a true and real conversion. Due to
improper presentation of the gospel, I believe we have churches full of
unconverted people – including teens and people supposedly saved as teens all
trying to work out a salvation they do not even possess. They give you the
right answers, and they appear to have no connection with the Head, that is
They can tell you what you want to hear, however there is
no life apparent. These are people who think they are
regenerated, but in actuality may not be!
So many of our kids reveal through their lives that they
have not ever truly made that transition from death to life (Ephesians 2:1-3).
I fear many of us are delusional in our felt beliefs that our children are
truly regenerated when so much of the evidence we see points elsewhere. The
hard truth is that being a good Christian parent and raising them
"right" guarantees nothing. No one is grandfathered into the kingdom
of God, and no one chooses to enter without the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Each
of our children must be drawn to God by God and then each of
them must decide what they are going to do with this Jesus and the salvation He