If you’ve made it to this article, then you know that the title is facetious. In my 24 years of being a son, I think it’s safe to say that parents don’t like to be told how to parent from anyone. We’ve all been in a position where a child is out of control and have thought: “I would NEVER let my child act in such a manner. I’m appalled.” Oh, you haven’t? Well, you’re a better person than me! But, if you’re a parent and you’re reading this, especially if you’re a parent of a teenager, I commend you. The years from 11-18 are extremely difficult for a kid and a parent but they are so formative. I’m not here to tell you how to do it. I’m here to offer some encouragement along
Myself and our youth leaders have been reading “Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel” for the past few months. The book was written to give insight and encouragement, from Drew Hill, a pastor, former YoungLife Leader, and parent of 3 children, on how to best care for and love teenagers. At the end of each chapter, it offers practical ways for parents and youth ministry leaders to respond to the information that was discussed in the previous chapter. I don’t recommend a ton of books for the sake of my recommendations losing validity, but I STRONGLY RECOMMEND this book to ANY parent or youth minister. Why do I strongly recommend this book? Let me discuss further.
As a son and a brother, I’ve been on the receiving end of those formative eight years. As a current youth minister, I have been on the opposite end of what it means to show love to kids living in that eight year span. I can honestly say, growing up, that my mom had a special way of listening to me and showing me grace, while still disciplining me. Was she perfect? No. Did she snap? Yes. Did she always show me grace? No. But the overall upbringing that I had was clothed in grace and plenty of second chances. Alongside is a book that is covered in grace and gives practical examples as we walk through life with the next generation. The overall outline of the book is this:
- He acknowledges the teenagers that seem “to far gone.” He addresses the brokeness that’s in all humans but then specifies struggles of teenagers.
- He shifts his focus to the role that Jesus plays in their lives as well as in youth leader’s and parent’s lives.
- In Part 3 of the book, he discussing in detail what the pursuit of teenagers is like. This is extremely difficult and can often feel like there is no evidence of a response. However, this is an encouragement to keep going and to not give up on them!
- The last part of the book goes into detail about insecurities of the one pursuing (parent or youth leader).
I could continue (and maybe I’ll just release other articles) but I share these things with you not because I’m being sponsored by Drew Hill and the New Growth Press Publishing company. No. I share these things with you, because I have found them valuable in my relationships with teenagers. So, parents, do not be discouraged. You are not perfect. You will mess up. But my prayer is that you would acknowledge ways that you can grow as a parent of your teenagers and then take those steps!