by Stacy Mattheis
Parenting is a difficult, crazy and rewarding journey. I’ve only been on the journey 16 years, so I am by no means an expert. I have been grateful to those who have gone before me and were willing to share their highs, lows and the regrets or non-negotiable things they are glad they stuck to. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from parenting is that I am a sinner raising sinners. I’m not talking about the sinner I was before my salvation, but the human I am every day. The sinner saved by grace who desperately wants her children to follow God and His plan for their lives.
Parenting has reminded me that perfection doesn’t exist this side of Heaven. Parenting has and will continue to reveal the areas I need Christ the most. Children have a way of pushing us to the brink of sanity, and I usually stumble often times failing greatly. I yell, say things I can’t take back, threaten things I know I won’t follow through on and then struggle with the guilt of knowing my children need me to grasp what living with “Christ in me” means. I have learned that parenting is the thing God uses to show me how much I need Him. I need His guidance daily to know what battles to fight, when to lean in, and when to back off. Every day I must surrender to His will for my kids, and me, in order to parent in a godly manner. I like being in control of my life (who doesn’t!). Therefore surrendering my parenting isn’t easy. I do a lot of thinking and over thinking about decisions we’ve made or will make. It can create a little bit of stress and anxiety so I’ve had to learn to parent from a different posture…. one that is on my knees crying out for grace and wisdom. The older my kids get the more time I spend on my knees covering them in prayer. I can’t change their hearts or attitudes but thank goodness Jesus can.
Surrendering was easier when they were younger. I could insulate their world with all the things we valued. I could protect them from the outside world until their foundation was solid. My biggest struggle these first few teen years was to trust that all the work we did when they were younger would produce fruit. I had to remember that I serve a God who keeps His word and loves my kids more than I do. The Holy Spirit reminded me a few years ago that He gave me these specific children because I had as much to learn from them as they did from me. Humbling thought to say the least.
If you are parenting teens I encourage you to pray for them daily … you both will need it! I encourage you to build relationships with them … this is the season where we have to pursue our kids, sacrificing at whatever cost to lean in to them. Lastly, bless them as often as you can. I believe words are powerful and we can fill up the hearts of our teens with God’s truth and the love of Jesus everyday.
Here are a few books that have been helpful to me over the past years too…
Give Them Grace by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson
Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel
That’s My Teenage Son by Rick Johnson
Wild Things – The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas
Raising a Spiritually Strong Daughter by Susie Shellenberger
Girl Talk with God by Susie Shellenberger