Several years ago I had the pleasure of facilitating a six week class for Parents of Teenagers on Sunday mornings. It was both encouraging and troubling. It was encouraging because I realized that most all of us share similar frustrations as we strive to effectively raise our children. It was a bit troubling because of the great challenges we face and the brief amount of time we have to address them. If you have little ones, you won’t believe me, but those eighteen years whiz by at blazing speed.
As parents in our class asked questions about the challenges they are currently facing with their kids (excellent, relevant ones), I often found myself at a loss for adequate answers. Actually, for many of their issues, I had a solution; though it’s not a realistic one. My suggestion for most teen/parent struggles involves going back in time and laying a better foundation of authority or relationship or purpose before their children become teenagers. Not something I can say with a straight face.
I do not mean to discourage those parents who are currently waging WWIII with their teens. It is NEVER too late to re-connect with your kids. It is NEVER too late to become a more effective parent. God desires to answer us when we call on Him, providing us with wisdom and power and help for our every need.
But I do desire to encourage those parents with younger kids to make the most of every opportunity, because the days are short. Instead of operating on auto-pilot through their kids’ formative years and then struggling to play catch-up when they are teens, wise parents realize that the early years are when the battles are won or lost.
George Barna suggests that most kids develop their worldview, morals and values by the time they are thirteen. Of course there is further refining, but the bulk of a child’s character is established before the teen years even arrive.
So what’s the point? Fellow parents, please know that it is never too early to start molding your kids into the image of Christ. For if the concrete starts hardening at thirteen, then we must be carefully and diligently shaping it long before then. And if you don’t believe me, just ask those in our Parents of Teenagers class who often feel like they are now having to use chisels to shape the character of their kids. The reality is that the older they get, the more effort it takes!
Make the most of ever day! The days are long but the years are short.