Sometimes when we see teens that are going through tough times it can be discouraging and we can wonder if all our parenting efforts in the early years are really worth it. We’ve already looked at some reasons to believe that you can have a lot of confidence in the fruit of your parenting. However, let’s take a look at it from a little bit of a different angle today. Suppose you could see into the future and you knew that when your child hit 15 he would rebel. I guess this could take a lot of different forms, but suppose you knew that your teen would do poorly in school, smoke pot, drink excessively, not come home until 4 in the morning, if at all, and would refuse to go to church altogether. My guess is we all know a teen or two that has gone through something like that—maybe a little better or maybe a little worse. I don’t expect our kids to rebel at that level, but I see it enough that it troubles me, and in my times of doubt I wonder if that could happen to us. I guess the question I have is this: If I knew that my kids would rebel at 15, what would I do differently now?
Another way to look at it is that at that level of rebelliousness you’ve lost most of your input into your kid’s life. So I might ask myself what would I want to pass on to my child to prepare him for life before I lose that place of influence.
I think I would want to make sure my child was educated enough to have a good paying job. I’d want him to be used to hard work so that he could handle the stress of the daily grind. If you can’t provide for yourself in life, it can be hard to dig yourself out of a hole. I’d also want him to know some other basic life skills like financial management.
I’d want him to know the dangers of premarital sex, drugs, and the abuse of alcohol.
If he knew at least 100 verses by heart it would encourage me to know that God’s Word was continually available to guide and direct my child, and to work away at his conscience. (Actually I’d say 500, but I don’t want to freak you out.) I’d also hope he would have a wealth of past sermons, Sunday school lessons, and teachings from his parents that the Holy Spirit could bring to his mind at the appropriate time.
I’d want him to know the principle that a man reaps what he sows, and that if you sow the wind you reap the whirlwind. I’d want him to know that real life and true happiness are found when we pursue God’s will. If you sow good choices, you reap a good life.
It would be extremely important to me that he knew he was loved by his God, parents, and family. Although he could run from many things, I’d want that to always haunt him (in a sense) and continually be a pull on his heart. I’d want him to know that like the prodigal son, forgiveness and restoration are always close at hand.
These are a few of the things that come to my mind. I’d want to do everything within my power to equip my child for his time of rebelliousness, in hopes that it would be short lived and not too destructive. That would take a lot of energy and time, but in the end hopefully it would all be worthwhile to save my child.
Interestingly enough, when you think about it, that level of parenting is the pretty much the same level I’d recommend to someone who wants to raise a soldier for Christ. Even if I knew I was going to ‘lose’ my teenager, I think I’d still parent the same in the younger years. So maybe all this fear related to losing our children is just a distraction from the task at hand. I don’t know the future. I don’t know how my kids or your kids will turn out. I haves certain hopes and expectations for the future, but those may be somewhat irrelevant. I do know for certain what God has called me to today, and I need to be faithful with that instead of frozen in the fear of the unknown.