I am now the parent of a teenager. Help me. Please. I am not adequately prepared for this. Then again, I wasn’t adequately prepared to be a parent 13 years ago, either. Mark Twain famously said that when your child turned thirteen you should put him in a box and feed him through a hole. Then when your child turns 16, you should plug the hole. This comedic advice speaks to the way most people approach the teen years. Fear, trepidation and uncertainty are often the distinctives of parenting this age bracket.
I am hoping that the teen years, with their discovery of armpit hair and the development of acne (yes, we’ve had both) will prove to be opportunities to showcase the grace of God. I’ll need grace. I tend to respond to teenage mood swings and immaturity with frustration and anger. These companion vices will not be my friends through the teen years. I’ll need grace. Nothing will drive a teen further from his father than to sense a lack of interest and a general distaste for the things which concern them.
My teen will need grace too. Peer pressure, changing body, new feelings and interests (like teen girls) will surely need grace. Without some parental help – particularly from a father – these new and changing realities will be enough to derail spiritual growth and disengage my teen from family life. So, he’ll need grace.
My prayer is that years 13-19 will be marked by good conversation, strong connection, purposeful prayer and a growing independence. I am praying for a teen who is godly, of good character, responsible, and interested in others. This won’t come naturally. In order to see this accomplished both he and I will need God’s grace. Lots of it.