These words are not my own. They belong to Pastor Matt Bullen, Heritage Family Baptist Church, Texas, who will also speak at the upcoming Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) conference this summer. Yet, as I skimmed a homeschooling newsletter, I found the topic thought-provoking. It is a conversation that I’ve had with my husband, and that I have with myself, quite often as we raise children who are becoming young adults quicker than we’re ready for it to happen.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother… Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:1, 2a & 4
In parenting my six children ages 14 to 22, I have found that I often quote Eph. 6:1&2 but rarely consider Eph. 6:4. I have often attributed, what I perceived to be disrespect in my teens and twenty some things, to their not obeying Eph. 6:1&2 when in reality many times it was me not obeying Eph. 6:4.
In my years as a youth pastor and now as a pastor I have seen many young people who needed to learn to obey and honor and I have also seen many parents who needed to learn not to exasperate otherwise sincere and good-hearted young people. In the next two articles I will share with you some of the things that I have observed that tend to frustrate and discourage young people. In subsequent articles we will discuss the proper transition from parenting children to parenting young adults.
I. Parent’s Insecurity – Often parents are not secure in their own identity in Christ, or in their job, or in the leadership of their family and so they feel threatened when their children begin to exhibit natural tendencies toward independence and autonomy as they approach adulthood. Instead of realizing and rejoicing that their job as trainer is coming to an end and their job as mentor and counselor is about to begin, these parents try to push their children back down into the comfort zone of total dominance and submission causing the young people to either
be quashed and stunted in their development into solid, productive adults or causing them to push back to the point of rebellion in their effort to become what everything inside of them is screaming that they were meant to be, adults.
II. Badge of Honor – Parents who wear their well behaved, talented, academically gifted, and spiritually adept children as a badge of honor, as a means of self esteem, or as credentials for leadership in the church, frustrate their children because the children know that image and presentation is more valuable to these parents than substance and true godliness. The children feel that they are points on a resume rather than valued gifts from God being raised for God’s glory and for His purpose.
III. Present vs. Future – Parents who are shortsighted and fail to realize that their children don’t belong to them but are on loan to them from God for a short season so that they may train and prepare them to grow up, leave, and follow God’s calling on their lives will exasperate
their children. To these parents, children exist primarily to fulfill a need in the parent’s life rather than the other way around. The parents feel fear and a sense of loss when they realize that their young people are getting excited about leaving the nest and following their own dreams and goals. Consequently, the parents may begin to whine and hound the young adults about staying near home or never leaving at all.
IV. Age Appropriate Interaction – Peter Pan and the lost boys never wanted to grow up. Many parents find themselves in a similar predicament on the parental side. They never want their children to grow up or they don’t realize that they are growing up or they simply don’t know
how to adjust their parenting methodology as their children grow to maturity. They continue to chide, command, direct, restrict, and disregard the wishes of young people who are biologically, emotionally, and intellectually adults in much the same manner that they did when they were 4 or 5 years old. Nothing is as sure to frustrate and discourage a young person as this.
In the next article we will look at some additional things to avoid so that we may obey Eph. 6:4.