Anger rages. Dissention grows. Some shout while others sit in silent protest. Social media becomes a catalyst for the chaos. Meanwhile my heart grieves at the world’s lack of hope. It grieves even more as I realize adults aren’t the only ones affected. Our teens feel it too.
Debate fills their news feeds. People bash them publicly for their beliefs. Even school can’t provide a safe place from controversy. With all the faithlessness in the world today, a burden weighs heavy in this mom’s spirit. Will this constant negativity affect my teen’s faith?
It’s every parent’s worry. How does my child continue trusting God when today's culture teaches him to question his faith? I discussed this topic with my teen. His fresh perspective gave me renewed hope.
Our open conversation uncovered three practical things parents can do to help our teens keep the faith in an increasingly faithless world. Let’s learn together how to help our teens stay grounded in unshakeable faith, even in the midst of the madness.
1. It’s not about controlling what they see, but controlling what they see in you.
In parenting, control can be both good and bad. Control can mean creating healthy boundaries for our kids. Through my son’s preschool years, I could control his environment. If a playground looked too dangerous, we just didn’t play there. We threw broken toys with sharp edges into the trash. But sometimes I crave too much control, and that causes problems when parenting teens.
His environment today is much harder to manage. I can’t always be with him to see those dangerous places or sharp edges. I’d love to have a magical device that filters out all the trash he sees and hears, but that’s not realistic. I can’t navigate who and what he’s exposed to, but there is one thing I can control – my own behavior.
“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 13:47 NIV)
Our teens may not always listen to what we say, but they will absorb every detail of our actions. Are we displaying Christ-like character at home? Are we treating others with unconditional love and kindness? Do we rely on God’s Word in times of trouble?
God designed us to shine His light. Our kids will learn most about what it means to be a Christ-follower from watching our example.
2. Listen, even when you dread what they might say.
Have you ever been in that moment when your teen wants to share something with you, but anxiety causes you to fear what she might say? You silently plead with God to give you words to speak hope into her situation, because you know a harsh response could push her away.
I want my kids to feel comfortable coming to me with their deepest thoughts and greatest fears, but I don’t always act like it. I need to create an atmosphere of trust – a safe place to share burdens.
Isaiah 54:13 says, “All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.”
When we teach them about God at home, His comforting peace will stay with them as they go about their daily lives. Let’s pray our home will be a place of praising God and receiving His peace. Each day, let’s invite the Holy Spirit to abide there. His presence will provide that safe place for them to speak and strength for us to listen.
3. Remind him often who God says he is.
God’s Word is alive, powerful, and true. Just hearing Scripture spoken can revive hurting hearts and refresh tired bodies. We would never intentionally deprive our kids of the benefits of hearing what God says about them. Yet so often we let busy schedules get in the way of proclaiming God’s goodness to our teens.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3:1)
If my child has any question about how God sees him, this verse makes it clear. Sharing this promise with my teen will give him confidence in who he is – a child of the Creator of the universe.
The end also speaks to the trials he will face as a believer. This truth will bring answers to the deepest places of doubt that may try to trap him. God’s spoken Word provides protection for our children that cannot be penetrated by confusion.
4. Remind yourself who God says your child is.
Many years ago, we stood in front of the platform at church with our baby boy. Family stood alongside, and we all agreed together. This boy belonged to God. Much like Hannah did when she took Samuel to the temple; we dedicated our son to the Lord.
I sometimes forget about that day. I also forget what Paul said in Ephesians 1:5. God “predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”
Forgetting leads to worry and uncertainty, but reminding myself of my child’s identity in Christ will guard those unsure places in my heart. When we commit to raising our kids with God’s direction, we also release their futures to the One who has everything working together for their good.
Above all, we can rest assured today. God’s got this! We can parent with that same unshakeable faith we want for our teens because God supplies all our needs. (Phil. 4:19) And as we continue to put our faith in God, they will learn from our example.
Please pray with me:
Dear Father, thank you for our children. Thank you for loving them even more than we do, and for calling them out of darkness into your wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9) They see a world of confusion. They hear messages condemning their beliefs. Yet Your Word is more powerful than any negativity that comes their way. Help them keep their faith in You, Lord. Give us wisdom to guide them as they grow into the mighty men and women you created them to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart who teaches about God’s powerful, relatable Word. She is the author of Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Kristine writes about her God-story and helps others discover their own at www.kristinebrown.net.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: February 15, 2017