Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Helping Teens Make Mistakes



There are a lot of different approaches and opinions on parenting. Some parents are very hands-off and like to let their children make their own decisions. Other parents are very hands-on. I'm not referring to parents who spank their children when I say "hands-on." I mean that some parents are very controlling, and will not allow their children to make any decisions on their own.

There are two extremes in parenting: controlling and negligence. Both are harmful to children, especially teens. Teenagers are coming into a phase of life, where they want to make their own decisions. I think it's part of becoming an adult. However, with decisions come consequences. I think we would all agree that every action receives a reaction. Bigger actions receive bigger reactions. It is important for teens to learn this critical lesson. Parents must find the balance of allowing teens to make their own decisions, yet keep them away from harm. We use this balance to help our children make mistakes, and we teach them how to learn from their mistakes.

Scripture has a lot to say about parenting. Let me be honest here; the Bible is not a detail oriented instruction manual for parenting. However, there are some principles that we can use to parent our children. We will not parent exactly as the biblical parents raised their children, because culturally we are very different. Additionally, each child will need to be raised differently. I have two kids, and what worked for one is not working for the other. I think any parent of multiple kids would agree with this sentiment.

Some Scripture on Parenting:

Ephesians 6:4 "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in discipline and instruction of the Lord." Here we see the balance of proactive parenting. We don't won't to over shelter our kids, but we must be diligent in correcting them.

Deuteronomy 6:7 "You shall teach [the Scriptures] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Scripture also teaches us that we are to teach our children the Scriptures both directly and indirectly by how we live.

Hebrews 12:10 "For [our fathers] disciplined us for a short time as it seems best to them, but [Jesus] disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness." When we join in disciplining our children in a godly manner, we act like Jesus does towards our children. We want our children to become good men and women, with great faith. So does Jesus. We are an extension of his character to our children.

Hebrews 12:11 "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Discipline is certainly not fun for either the child or the parent, but we must keep the end goal in mind. Jesus uses discipline in both our lives and the lives of our children that they will become good people. We then join Jesus in the process of nurturing our children to become godly. There may be no immediate results, because discipline is taught over time.

There is much more about parenting that Scripture speaks to. I encourage you to do some more study in this area.

Applications:

  1. My child needs correction and guidance, and I (the parent) am responsible for him/her.
  2. My child needs to make mistakes and learn from them.
  3. I must teach my child about choices and consequences through discipline.
  4. I cannot keep my child in a bubble forever, nor should I expose them to everything. I will find a balance to disciplining my child.
  5. When (not if) my child makes a mistake, I will correct them in love not anger.
  6. In doing so, I hope to teach my children not to make big mistakes because they learned from the small ones.



For Further Reading:

"What the Bible Says About Discipline" by Focus on the Family

"Biblical parenting in Proactive, Not Reactive" by Shepherd Press

"Mistakes Improve Children's Learning" by Psychology Today
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