There is seemingly no end to advice on being a good parent – especially the parent of an adolescent. While my “parenting teens” years are in the rearview mirror (as are my youth ministry years), I think Kevin Huggins’ advice in the now out of print Parenting Adolescents is still the very best.
The key to becoming a more effective parent is to become a more godly person.
When I read this book 20 years ago I noted in my journal that there are three basic errors that parents (i.e., me) tend to make when it comes to dealing with problems with their children.
- Misguided focus. The focus of a disappointed parent too easily becomes that of changing or controlling his or her teen’s outward behavior often seeking to eliminate our feelings of distress.
- Misdirected Goals. A parent’s goals can be considered misdirected when they are aimed at getting their desires fulfilled by people or circumstances – for example, getting their children to do what the parent wants – instead of their relationship with Christ.
- Misplaced Dependency. When we choose not to depend on God to satisfy the desires that battle within us, our dependency comes to rest in our own ability to get people (like our kids) to come through for us.
We must focus first on meeting the true need in others rather than the need in ourselves and find the strength to do that in Christ – even when that requires trusting God to protect our children. We so often create damaging strategies of human effort to keep our worst fears from happening.