Question: My child is a teenager who thinks he’s an adult. I’ve always tried to raise my child to follow Christ, but he wants to be independent of me and my instruction is not always well-received. He knows the Bible and does not live in blatant rebellion, but also does not want to be reminded of Scripture. What should I do?
Answer: As a child transitions from adolescence to adulthood it can become increasingly challenging for parents to understand their role in their child’s life. Even though parents are appointed by God to train their children in godliness, the challenge increases when biblical truth is sometimes not well-received by a teen. Focusing on the following truths can be beneficial in parenting through the teen years:
1. Your position as your child’s parent is an appointment and entrusted to you by God.
Be honest with your child and communicate to him that you recognize he is growing in his independence. Then, let him know that he was created to grow increasingly independent of you; but he was not created to become independent of Christ.
Communicate to him that since God asks children to honor their parents, you are asking him to honor you by respecting your instruction. 2 Peter 1:12-13 tells us: So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body. Even though your son has been trained in godliness, let him know that it is still your job to point him to truth.
2. You will be held accountable for how you choose to parent.
Tell your child that you take very seriously your appointment as his parent and will one day be accountable to God for how you parent. Even though he will one day be on his own and making his own decisions, you will always be a source of godly counsel in his life.
Ezekiel Chapters 3 and 33 describe how God put in place watchmen over His people. When a watchman saw impending danger, he was to blow a trumpet to warn the people. If the people heard the trumpet, but did not heed the warning, the consequences would be on their own heads. If they had embraced the warning, they would have saved themselves from undesired consequences. But, if the watchman recognizes potential danger and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the danger overtakes them, then the watchman would be held accountable.
Help your child understand that you have been appointed by God as a watchman in his life. Even though he is making personal choices, it is your job to continue to point out impending danger, potential spiritual pitfalls, and temptations to help him avoid undesired consequences.
As a watchman, be mindful that you are merely responsible for communicating godly instruction. The choice to heed your instruction belongs to your child and the results belong to God.
3. Pray, pray, pray!
Although prayer is listed last, it is always the greatest thing you can do for yourself and your child. Ask the Lord to give your child a spirit of humility, a heart that is teachable and yielded to God’s truth, and the strength to walk in obedience. Ask God to provide you with the words, voice tone, and body language to effectively parent your teen. Ask Him to show you His perfect timing to communicate instruction and potential choices and consequences. Ask the Lord to enable you to allow your child to suffer the natural consequences from poor choices. Thank God for the gift of your child and the work that He is doing in his life. Ask the Lord to make you a trustworthy watchman.