Parenting a teenager can feel like a rollercoaster ride. From the peaks of our children’s honorable moments to the plunges of their poor decisions, our roles as moms and dads are replete with ups and downs. Yet in the haze of predicaments that parenthood involves, we often screech to a halt because we simply don’t know what to do.
The hospital doesn’t issue a manual on Christian parenting when we welcome our newborns into our families. Our local church congregations — as family-focused and well-meaning as they attempt to be — aren’t present in our homes when the baby cries for the millionth time, our tween discovers pornography, or when our teen rebels against our wisdom. We wrestle with exhaustion, anxiety, and fear. Somehow, we’re supposed to figure out how to parent along the way, but we often stand puzzled, wondering how to handle the latest parenting dilemma.
What would the Lord have us to do?
I remember an incident that involved one of my four children. Several hours after I fell asleep one night, I awoke and proceeded to lay awake for a lengthy time. Why? I anxiously mulled over my child’s spiritual state. In my desperate mother love, I anguished whether my precious one truly belonged to Christ. A profession of faith was spoken at an early age, followed by baptism, but spiritual fruit appeared sparse during the teen years. Uneasiness afflicted me.
I decided to read God’s Word, which the Lord spoke through powerfully. The Holy Spirit focused my attention on 2 Chronicles 20, a chapter I love yet never had applied to my parenting experiences. God poured peace on me as I read. In this account of King Jehosaphat’s response to Judah’s impending invasion, a couple of verses particularly lifted my spirit: “For we are powerless before this vast number that comes to fight against us. We do not know what to do, but we look to you” (v. 12).
I faced a perplexing situation with my teen. Would my child outgrow the cause for my concern, meaning I should quietly wait and pray? Or should I speak into my teenager’s life in an effort to address the problem I perceived? I yearned for God’s wisdom, and His Word cast light into my conundrum.
He Provides the Stability You Crave
During our parenting journey — and especially while we navigate our children’s teenage years — it’s vital for us to recognize the enemy’s attacks. Deceptive and cunning, he pursues the hearts of our children. He confuses them with worldly ideologies and tempts them with material items. He stimulates their self-focus and encourages their lusts and desires. Satan craftily approaches our children through a variety of means, which can catapult us as parents into the realm of uncertainty.
Power flows from our recognition that we’re powerless. Just as the Israelites lacked the ability to overcome their enemies, we can’t defeat our enemy. We must rely on God for wisdom and strength. He will make a way before us, lighting our parenting path. He knows our children better than we do, and He loves them more. He’s the only one who can work in their hearts, drawing them to Jesus and sanctifying them through His Word. We must recognize God’s ability rather than claiming our own.
Verse 15 clarified a truth I had failed to apply, for it read, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast number, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
Parents mistakenly assume from time to time that we must control our teen’s thoughts and actions. We fear a loss of reputation if he doesn’t maintain Christ-like behavior, and we encounter discouragement when she seems to choose a non-biblical mindset. We concentrate on the enemy’s presence, forgetting our God is stronger. He holds the key to our child’s future, and He possesses an immediate connection with his or her heart. The battle belongs to the Lord.
While parenting teens resemble the helter-skelter throes of riding a rollercoaster, God provides the stability we crave. He freely offers wisdom in the Bible, and He provides comfort in the Holy Spirit. God seats Himself next to us as we board the parenting experience, and He never leaves us.
More than anyone, God wants us to succeed as parents by depending on Him along the way. He doesn’t expect us to figure things out on our own. Our Father calls us to seek Him and trust that He will fight each battle for our children’s hearts.
This article is adapted from HomeLife Magazine.