How We Live as Children and Teenagers
Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.Exodus 20:12
Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is pleasing unto the Lord.Colossians 3:20
Imagine as a ten-year-old seeing your three-year-old baby sister trying to open a jar of rat poison. She really wants the “candies” inside! You quickly take the jar out of her hands and put it up on a high shelf out of her reach. She is very upset and cries. She thinks you are really mean for not letting her eat some of the “candy” she found. But you are older and you know better. You know that if she ate the rat poison pellets there would be serious consequences; she would become very sick or maybe even die.
Obeying your parents can be like this at times. Sometimes, as children, your parents tell you that you cannot do something that you really want to do, or they take away something that you want to have. You are upset, and maybe even think that your parents are cruel. But your parents are older and more experienced than you are. They see dangers and potential for harm in what you want to do or to have. Trust and obey your parents. Respect the father and mother that God has given to you. They know you better and love you more than any other adult in the whole world. Obey your parents promptly, willingly, out of a spirit of love and respect; not simply because you must. God sees your heart, your will.
Obeying and respecting your parents can become even more challenging when you become a teenager. Why? Because the lines of responsibility between parents and children cross during the teen years. When you were born, your parents did virtually everything for you. They fed you, clothed you, and changed your diapers. As a child, you learned to do more independently. For example, you learned to feed and clothe yourself, to ride a tricycle and then a bicycle. But you still made very few directional decisions for your life; your parents made almost all of them.
Now as a teen, as you mature into a young adult, you enter a time of transition. You increasingly make more decisions: how to spend your time, how and where to drive once you have your license, how to deal with a friend who has wronged you, how to spend your money, and whether to apply for a job or not. You increasingly become the primary decision-maker and your parents step back to let you mature into adulthood in a healthy way.
Two challenges often present themselves during this time of transition.
- Teens tend to overestimate their own abilities and want too much independency too quickly. As a teen, you may think that you can handle more independency sooner than you are capable. Many teens are overconfident because they have not yet experienced very much of life’s realities and consequences yet. In other words, teens may want to play with and eat “poison pellets” of temptation and sin because they do not see the dangerous consequences and think confidently, “I know how to take care of myself.”
- Parents tend to resist and give too little independence too slowly to their teen-aged children. This resistance to “let go” arises from parents’ deep love and concern for their children’s safety and welfare. Also, God has commanded them to bring up their children in the fear of God (Eph. 6:4) and they must give an account to God for how they have parented their children.
As a teen, how can you help your parents confidently give you more independence and freedom? By building trust. The more your parents trust you, the easier it will be for them to agree to your requests and to grant you more freedom to do things on your own. Building trust with your parents is critical for a positive and healthy relationship. Because they love you so much and have invested so much in you, they cannot agree to your requests unless they know that you will conduct yourself responsibly. Build trust.
How can you build trust with your parents?
- Be honest with them, even when you have done wrong.
- Ask for their permission to do things or when a change of plans occurs.
- Convey your love for them. Remember that to love and to show love are two different things – show it.
- Communicate with them; readily share with them and be a good listener.
- Try to understand them, thinking about their God-given responsibility and their deep love for you and your welfare.
- Pray for them, even that God would help their weaknesses and faults.
What word is important? Trust.
- Trust your parents; willingly respect and obey them.
- Build trust so that your parents can trust you more.
- Trust that the Lord Jesus can help you to do this; pray much to God for this.
When doing this, by God’s grace, you will be blessed as children, as teenagers, all the days of your life on earth, and even eternally! Trust that God’s Word and promises are true.