Hey Joni, I have some thoughts on parenting a tweenager. Since all kids are different I don’t believe there is a formula. However, as a youth leader who has seen hundreds of teenagers pass through the church, there does seem to be a pattern. I would strongly advise you to make your kids go to church and youth group. Quick story: I was talking with my wife and another guy in his 20s when a mother came up to me and said “My daughter (10 yrs) doesn’t want to go to church. I can’t make her. What should I do.” I responded by saying, “My parents made me go.” My wife said, “My parents made me go.” And the guy with us said the same thing. That’s 3 people in their 20s—an age demographic missing in most churches—who were not only in church, but committed to the mission of Christ, and they were forced to go to church as kids.
Two other thoughts:
You and your husband have to model what is real. You have to exhibit the Fruits of the Spirit. Your kids have to see you on your knees and in Scripture. They have to see you love the unlovely. If they don’t see it in you, it won’t be real. I asked a father of two daughters who love the Lord how he raised them to be that way. He said he’d let them answer. They both sent me e-mails that said the things above. They had Christ modeled to them, not just taught.
Last thing, and then I’ll leave you alone! Materialism and Contemporary American Christianity have a chokehold on our society. My wife and I are saving our tax returns for the next decade to take our son to an impoverished nation when he is 10 or so. We want him to see what the rest of the world is like outside of this illusion we call America. If you have the resources, I strongly recommend taking your son on a 2-week mission trip to an impoverished country.
As a youth pastor I am so happy to hear that you take this seriously. We need more parents like you.
I appreciate his genuine care and concern for Drew, Nate and I as parents, and his teens. I am so thankful for the body of Christ that rallies one another to stand for what is right and pure and true.
I have a few questions and answers for you...
1. Who influenced you and how?
My parents... their Christianity shaped every avenue of their life. My mom taught me loving submission (even when it was hard to do) and my dad taught me the importance of modesty.
2. Did your parent(s) "make you" go to church and youth group?
3. What is the biggest parenting struggle you have?
Disciplining with wisdom. Which battle to fight... which lesson to teach... holding back anger.
4. What is one thing you hope to accomplish by the time your children leave your home?
A maturing personal relationship with Jesus Christ. How to treat their spouse. And doing their own laundry. That would be nice.
The goal of godly parenting is to raise children who know the Lord as their personal Savior and who love His Word. In order for this to happen, parents must:
1. Consistently be involved with their children in order to create a nurturing atmosphere
2. Clearly instruct their children according to God’s Word
3. Enforce the consequences for disobedience
4. Encourage the conformity to what is virtuous