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Parenting Teens and Tweens: I am my kids biggest problem

Posted on January 10th, 2014

At a recent Youth event for the parents of tweens and teens at NLF I had the privilege of being interviewed. Here are two of my most important lessons as a parent: #1     I  am my kids’ biggest problem. This was in response to the first question, “What’s the most important piece of advice you can give to parents of tweens and teens?” This was not hard for me to answer. This is something I have thought long and hard about and has been a guiding principle for me for years. The following quote about leadership (Every parent is a leader in their home.) sheds  light on why we as parents are potentially our kids’ biggest problem: A leader is someone with the power to project either shadow or light upon some part of the world, and upon the lives of the people who dwell there. A leader shapes the ethos in which others must live, an ethos as light-filled as heaven or as shadowy as hell. A good leader has high awareness of the interplay of inner shadow and light, lest the act of leadership do more harm than good. (Parker Palmer) One of the most important parenting skills I practice is to watch over my own heart. If I am not aware of my own motives and what is going on inside of me I can very easily ignore my dark side and project that onto my kids. For example, my anger may really not be about them not cleaning their room or obeying me but more about fear of losing control. My anxiety about their grades may really not be about them but more about feeling shame of how it reflects on me. My distancing from them is not really about their sulkiness but is rooted in the family I grew up in in how they dealt with tensions in relationships. One of the most significant and loving things you can do as a parent is to watch over the motives of your own heart lest you cast your shadow, rather than Christ’s light, onto your teen. When I am willing to look my own dark side in the face and take responsibility for it, many a painful interaction, for my family and for me, has been bypassed. Each time has led to life instead of death. #2 next week

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