What Culture Do You Need to Counter with Your Teens?

We are all familiar with the warnings that are written to parents about the need to counter the American culture with our kids.  Cell phones, gaming, clothing styles, piercings, tattoos, parties, friend’s, and the amount of freedom we give all come under scrutiny as we try to raise Christian kids in a culture that sometimes goes against the truth of scripture.

As I was giving this some thought, it occurred to me that sometimes we need to counter the culture to which we have become accustomed.  The things we sometimes take as truths that if we really thought deeply about them we might see things from a different perspective.

Many times as parents we automatically think that what was right for us as kids is how we should parent our kids.  If our parents gave a certain amount of freedom in an area then we automatically do the same without thought to the different world our kids live in today.  If we went to public school, or private school, or we home schooled then we’ll most likely do the same without thought to what might be best for our child.  If we grew up with “the teacher knows best” or “the rule is the rule”, we might not consider that there is a better alternative.

My point here is that sometimes the culture we need to counter might be within our own families of origin and the things we’ve come to believe.   I’ve talked to many parents who have chosen to counter the culture in which they grew up–sometimes to the frustration and verbal outcry of their parents.  I’ve even witnessed grandparents who have tried to bribe their grandchildren into trying to talk parents into doing things the way they think the grandchildren should be raised.  Countering the culture might be standing firm on what you feel God is calling you to do as you raise the children in which he has entrusted you.  

Another area we might consider is countering the culture of the church in which we attend.  I know that I’ll probably get some push back here, but hear me out.  Sometimes there is an underlying culture even within the church that is not accepting of parenting decisions other than what the body (or the loudest person) thinks is right.  If as a parent you feel shamed, or held to a standard that doesn’t seem right for your child, it might be time to take a stand or leave.  I’ve seen church environments that can impact our teens negatively because the rules (sometimes unspoken) have precedent over the relationship.  Are your kids being loved, nurtured, listened to, and encouraged to serve as a member of the body of Christ?  If not, it might be time to counter the culture.

A book entitled Start With Amen: How I learned to Surrender by Keeping the End in Mind by Beth Guckenberger  shares a story about the boldness we need as Christians to counter the culture.  When Beth came home as a teen to announce that she needed to quit her job at a local video store because they were renting pornographic videos, her dad’s response was (pg. 166),

“So that’s it?” my dad challenged me.  “As Christians, when we see something we don’t agree with, we just run away?”

I looked at him questioningly.  “Set apart, holy?”

He fired back, “Salt, light?”

“If you feel God telling you to leave, obey him.  But in the absence of that, I would say you might be there for a reason…I am just a customer of the store, with an option to boycott.  You are an employee with tremendous power to make a difference.  Instead of thinking of what you can say, why don’t you see what you can do?”

Wow!

If only each of us as parents could be bold enough to listen to what God is saying and encourage our children in similar fashion to boldly counter whatever culture we live.  Are we parenting out of fear or parenting to make a change in the world around us?

I’ll admit, as a parent my first instinct would have been to ask my child to quit working at the video store.  It would be safer.  It would have calmed a fear that I am sure would have risen up within me.  Depending on the temperament or the age of my child, I might have seen the scenario very differently than this father, but oh my, his response feels like holy ground as I think about how he views the world in light of eternity.

Maybe as parents countering the culture might mean that we parent with the end in mind rather than the present circumstances. 

 

Scripture tells us how.

Philippians 3:14

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Dare you to look at the culture surrounding your family and listen to His voice rather than the voices of others.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Maybe you would like to join a community of christian moms who are being challenged as they parent the next generation.  Our With All Due Respect e-course offers you a chance to meet other moms who are in the same stage of life.  You’ll get to ask questions of the author, find encouragement, view relevant videos that enhance the materials as you experience this life-changing curriculum.  You’ll even have others who will be praying with you as you share your burdens.  So grab your book and come join us.

Or, if you’d rather lead your own small group, remember that the small group guide sale ends Labor day.  You can order your copy here.  Either way, we promise you an experience with God that will have you depending on Him for all your parenting needs.

With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens and Tweens by [Roesner, Nina, Hitchcock, Debbie]

Finding Peace in the Midst of Parenting

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind.  I’ll admit that I’m having trouble remembering what I’ve done from one day to the next.  Grieving the loss of a child is so very hard and the enemy is relentless in attempting to get me into the pit of despair.  I’m thankful for all of you have who have been there to help carry my burden in the midst of such pain.  The little things–a meal, a text, a card, a donation to a ministry in our daughter’s name, or a response to my blog have been a lifeline to keep me out of the rabbit hole that could swallow me up.  These small things give me peace in the midst of the turmoil in my present circumstances.

As I treasure all of those who have been there for us during a time of death, I am contemplating how we as a body of Christ can be there for each other in a time of life.

I’ve spoken to many parents who are struggling to find peace in the midst of their parenting.  Many have strong-willed children who are determined to control their universe, others have kids who are struggling — peer pressure, sexting, cutting, pornography, alcohol, drugs, sex, pregnancy, same-sex relationships, and the list goes on.  One day we think our NOW is good and the next day brings trouble we can’t even begin to comprehend or explain.

So how do we find peace in the midst of the pain our children sometimes bring to our lives?  How do we deal with our own self-condemnation that we should have been a better parent or this wouldn’t be happening?  How do we deal with a culture (and sometimes church) that wants to blame someone for what our kids are doing — so it must be the parents’ fault?

If you are a parent whose kids seem to “get it” and by the grace of God they are choosing to follow His will, delight in the fact that He has chosen to spare you the pain of suffering through your children.  It can be an overwhelming cross to bare.

But can I ask you to stay here with me for a few minutes?

Can I ask you to  stop a minute and try to put yourself in other women’s shoes?  Can you take a moment and  feel their pain and offer empathy and a shoulder to cry on?  Can I ask each of us as Christian women to carry each other’s burdens?  Can you reach out and listen without condemnation and trying to tell them how to “fix” their parenting problem.  Can we all just listen and feel for our beloved sisters in Christ?

Our pastor said it eloquently at our daughter’s funeral service, “Who’s to blame for a child who is born blind, the child or the parents?”  Jesus answered “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” (John 9:3)

Think about that.  When our children make wrong choices they are blind.  They can’t see that they are on a path to destruction.  However, God can use us or them, and even in spite of our choices or their choices, to accomplish His purpose.  He is writing a testimony on our child’s heart and on our heart that He will use for His glory.  

That’s our hope.  That should be our peace.

I’ve been talking to women around the country who feel like they have to hide in the church.  These are the moms whose kids are making choices that are against everything they as a family believe in — yet they don’t feel safe to share their pain even to their church family. How sad.  They feel judged for things beyond their control because to us as Christians their child’s behavior is an unfathomable sin.

There is a lie the enemy wants us as a church to believe.  It is a lie that the enemy wants us to believe as parents.

And that is that our child’s sin is nonredeemable.

The last two weeks I’ve seen what God can do through us in spite of the choices we make.  By the Christian standard my daughter had made more than her  share of wrong choices.  Eventually, her choices caught up with her.  But in spite of her choices, God used her in some pretty incredible ways.  Ways that I would never have dreamed were going on “behind the scenes” of what I saw as her life.

Even in her choices, my daughter led a troubled young woman to Christ and helped her overcome an addiction to cutting.  Even in her own pain, she encouraged a young man by inviting him to her Bible Study group.  This young man now knows Jesus as his Lord and Savior and through her words of encouragement just recorded his first song.  In the midst of trying to find herself, she taught a young girl to braid hair and now this young adult has graduated from cosmetology school.  Because of my daughter’s bent toward helping others, she was ministering to a young woman with downs syndrome taking her into her home to bake and just spending time with her.  Because of her desire to have others know a Jesus who forgives sin, I’ve sat beside sinners in a church pew because she brought them to church desiring for them to find hope.

In spite of our kids’  choices, in spite of our kids’ sin, in spite of the road they choose to travel, God will use even their wrong choices to put them in a place where He can use them.  He’ll use them for His glory.

As for us as parents, we need to look to God for peace in the midst of our parenting chaos.  We need to understand that He is weaving His story and that story might bring pain for us.  We need to cling to a verse in John.

John 10:28-29

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

If your kids accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior at a young age, He’s got them even in the midst of the path they’ve chosen as teens.  If not, there is still time for redemption. They may make wrong choices, but don’t we all?  Some of us may struggle with alcohol, some overspending, some anger, some lust, and some self-righteousness, but if we’ve raised them to follow Jesus, He’s got them and He’ll use them in spite of their poor choices–just like He’ll use us.

And that should be our peace.  

God’s got this even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Isaiah 54:10

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Can you trust Him in the midst of your sorrow?  Can you trust Him with your pain?  If you are fortunate enough to have kids who are, by the grace of God, making wise choices, can you be a beacon of light to a hurting mom who is struggling because of her teen’s path?  Can you choose to let God use you to help other moms feel safe among their church family?

My prayer is that, just like I am trying to do, you will cling to Him for peace in the midst of it all–whatever your parenting struggle and that there will be other Christian moms who will give you a shoulder to cry on.

May you choose His peace as you…

“Let go…and Let God”,

Want to help moms develop a deeper relationship with God as they create more fulfilling relationships with their teens and tweens?  With All Due Respect was bathed in tears as God walked me through a powerful life-changing process that impacted my relationship with my daughter.  Because of what God taught me through parenting her, other moms can now grow closer to Him as they work through the devotional Dares from this book.  What is more, if you choose to do the book in a group you’ll have opportunity to develop deep connecting relationships with other women who are also on the parenting journey.  Check back next week to see how you can get your copy of our small group leader’s guide that will make your small moms group a WOW experience.