Guiding Teens and What That Looks Like (Erin Russell)

2015-03-25 08.52.38We’ve all heard time and time again from those wonderful women who have gone before us that our time with our children is short. This has become more apparent to me as my boys have become teenagers. The biggest indicator may be the size of their feet which dwarf mine in comparison. Their growing is a constant reminder that I only have so much time with them under my roof to impact them for the Kingdom before the stage of “parenting by prayer” becomes my reality.

I realize that a huge part of my role at this time is to guide them in their decision making process, like a bell sheep whose bell gets the attention of her flock and then points them to Jesus. My hope is to have my boys become men who love the Lord Jesus and reflect Him to those around them. When they were younger I fed them stories from the Bible and taught them to pray, now that they have that foundation to build on I need to show them how to apply God’s word to their life and how to make prayer a “first response”.

What does this look like? Well, my tendency after having young children for 15 years is to help them solve their problems. When they confide in me that something is concerning them or they are struggling with something, my first reaction is to tell them what to do or how to solve their crisis, but my better alternative is to guide them through the process of seeking the Lord and what he has for them in it. The Lord’s plan in all things is to draw us nearer to Him. If I believe that this is true for me, then I need to believe it for my teenagers as well.

In the grand scheme of atrocious happenings going on in the world today, we may be inclined to lessen the importance of what is going on in the lives of our teens, minimizing their concerns. However, the Lord cares about it all. If he knows how many hairs are on their precious heads, do we not believe that He cares that they are having struggles with a friend who publicly said something unkind to them? Or that they weren’t invited to a party? Or that they have a temporary injury from sports? Or didn’t make the team they so badly wanted to be a part of? Or that their teacher embarrassed them in class? Or their test score was poor in comparison to their neighbor? Each one of these seemingly small incidents invites our children to seek God and question Him about what they are going through. It’s beautiful that we are able to start with these “baby steps” of processing how to handle struggles that consume the thoughts of teens now, so that when their crisis are more foreboding as they reach adulthood they can proceed with confidence knowing that the Lord cares, wants to hear from them, and will always be on their side.

When my boys come to me with a concern my first step is to listen intently and think before I speak, not solving their problem as I am inclined to do. I ask them if they’ve prayed about it, then how their situation lines up with God’s word, and remind them that no concern is too small for our Heavenly Father to want to hear about. In this I am affirming them and reminding them that God cares. It is imperative to remember that these amazing young people are put into our care for us to guide and lead where they are at today. We need to guide them in their thought process to seek godly answers on their own. One of the greatest rewards as the mom of a teen is to have my child come to me and say that the Lord heard their cry and has granted them wisdom that meets them right where they are at.

Erin is the mother of four talented smart and wonderful children: Colton 15, Dylan 13, Cheridan 11, and Gavin 8. She has been happily married to her wonderful husband, Terry, for 23 years. Erin says she is blessed with the opportunity to speak into the lives of some amazing young women through KHC on a regular basis who make their family even bigger,  happier, and more full.

To read more from Erin visit her most recent article “Blessed to be a Blessing to My Teens.

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