Recently I have been reading a book with my wife by Eugene Peterson called Like Dew Your Youth.
Growing up with your teenager. I was really hoping to find a book that would be titled something like 3 easy peezy steps to fixing your adolescent. Fortunately, Eugene Peterson’s experience as a pastor, teacher and parent helped me get past “I hope I will be able to survive the teenage years” to “I wonder what God is going to do in me through this process.”
Here are three things from Peterson’s book to remember that might make you a better parent and keep you growing while walking through the adolescent years with your teen.
1. Adolescence is a Gift to middle age.
Peterson makes the point right off the bat as he reminds parents of the experience of a new baby.
“At the very time in life (young adulthood) when it is most easy to suppose that we are in control, that the world owes us a living, that through our education and training we have reduced our environment to something manageable – at this time God gives us a child of God, so we may experience a renewal of the prerequisite condition for entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 18:1-3).”
This new baby provided a way for parents to grow not only as parents but to see greater spiritual insights as well.
“But the adolescent, though not so obviously, is no less a gift of God. As the infant is God’s gift to the young adult, so the adolescent is a gift to the middle aged. The adolescent is “born” into our lives during our middle decades.” During this time, many face stagnation or see outward success but inner dryness.
“And then God’s gift: in a rather awkward packaging of the adolescent, God brings into our lives a challenge to grow, testing our love, chastening our hope, pushing our faith to the edge of the abyss.”
I think most of us focus on the wrong thing. We miss the gift.
2. Adolescence is not a problem to be solved but is an experience to be entered into!
Peterson says we should “Embrace the experience offered…as a gift of God, a means of grace… to mature into ‘wisdom and favor with men and God.’ This isn’t easy and doesn’t preclude pain or bewilderment, it usually includes it.”
“But God-ordained means of grace, regardless of appearances, and any feelings we might have toward them at the time, get us to the end that God intends for us, in this case the ‘measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’”
Just as the life of the Christian is to be a place for growth, God in his wisdom uses this time of life to change us as well!
3. This is a whole new world so be prepared to change and do it in community!
“Prior to adolescence, parents are used to being in nearly total control of their children. They are both stronger and wiser during those years.”
“New ways of sharing strength and new ways of communicating insight are needed. In order that we may function adequately as parents to an adolescent, new skills have to be developed. But they are not the parenting skills that can be packaged and purchased, they are the skills of being a person, which are only developed in a community of persons who share a common task and rely on a common faith. The worshipping church provides this community.”
Sorry, not even reading this book will solve this problem; learning and growing to parent teens can’t be packaged and downloaded as a new ipad app.
No one will do this alone. Dads need other Dads who can share and lament together! Older Dads need to help younger Dads. The same is true for mothers, but I mention Dads since we normally don’t do this!
Remember this process isn’t about changing your child; they will and are in the midst of changes: physical, emotional, and spiritual. What I need to remember is that I’m not finished growing either!
Where to go for help?
1. Learn about growing from WDA.
WDA can help you figure out what growing up looks like! Everyone needs to mature to Christlikeness. The principles of discipleship follow closely with the new role of parenting a teenager! We learn to come alongside, we take time to build relationships, we evaluate where they are going and we call them to walk with us as we walk with Christ. Read our Blogs on Maturity.
2. Get connected with other parents, talk to the other parents in your church or neighborhood.
3. Find some resources that help.
Growing Spiritually Pocket Principles from WDA –
Like Dew Your Youth – Eugene Peterson
Boundaries with Teens – John Townsend
How Children Raise Parents – Dan Allender
Where do you see most parents get stuck parenting their teens?
What are some of the ways you are being challenged to grow?