Every once in a while I come across some words that just "stick". I remember them. I ponder them. I want to share them with others. Such are the words of Tim Challies, from a blog post of his entitled 40 Random Pieces of Advice for the Christian Life. As a parent of older teens myself, I occasionally question how I am supposed to train and lead my children in this world. There are plenty of sources suggesting what to DO. This piece of advice is helpful to me in also suggesting something I NOT do.
Remember that your children are sinners who are beset by the fierce enemies of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Be gentle with them and have pity for them. Don’t be yet another enemy to them.
Don't be yet another enemy...
Have I become just another stressor in my child's life instead of someone who supports and strengthens them with wisdom and love along the way? Do I recognize that the culture they are living in is complicated, pressing in on them from every side with opinions and choices and temptations that I never had to deal with at their age? I find that I am able to be a much more compassionate parent when I remember that my children are navigating an extremely complex world, with daily, persistent messages that nothing is off-limits. A world where sexuality bombards them, where anxiety and depression run high, and where a spiritual enemy pushes hard for their destruction. In order to help my children navigate the many situations and decisions that will confront them, I need to stay close. And the typical child will not allow a parent to stay close, as they mature into adulthood, if they experience the parent as harsh, critical and insensitive to the challenges that they face. So I take these words to heart: Be gentle with them. In the words of Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Any parenting approach is more likely to succeed if these qualities are at the heart of the relationship with a child.