I love being a Dad. I love kids. I've loved every phase of fatherhood from the first day until now. This year our kids will turn 16, 11 and 14. We are now teaching our oldest to drive a car. Seriously fun and yet seriously nervy work.
Each phase of parenting has its own focus. There are unique challenges, joys and blessings for Moms and Dads for each stage and season of life our kids travel through. Here are a few of the needs we have observed.
- Birth-Waddling - love, feed, poop, talk, read, pray
- Waddler-Toddler - discipline, teaching, play, learning, discipline, energy, fun, discipline
- School age - learning, co-study, spiritual formation, deeper catechesis
- Teens - learning, responsibility, life ownership, deeper discipleship, friendship, clarity
- Young Adulthood - ??? I have my ideas but don't want to speak about the roads I've yet to walk
- Adulthood - looking forward to this...and if the Lord gives grace, grand babies!!!
Our kids are now in the tween and teenage years. We have never bought into the societal silliness that kids of age XYZ cannot be engaged with ABC. We've taught deeply, engaged socially and walked together with our kids towards maturity. We have done so in ways others might say kids of that age are not yet ready. Silly talk. Our calling is to bring our kids up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4) and we cannot look to our contemporary culture for cues on how to raise our kids. We have looked to Scripture and examples in history to learn and grow. We have also prayed and thought deeply about being intentional in our parenting. In the teen years there are some distinct challenges and necessities. I'll simply share a few.
Thoughts on Teens
- Kids should rightly be moving towards less and less dependence on Mom and Dad.
- Kids need to own their worldview, kick the tires of their faith and grow in their walk with God. Obviously what we've done with them prior to this season is absolutely key here.
- Kids need to lead themselves, assume deeper responsibilities and learn to serve and lead others as they move towards adulthood.
- Kids and parents need to evolve their relationship with one another while fighting to maintain a loving connection. Again, what you've done since birth will matter here. It is easy for teens to not want to be around Mom and Dad if Mom and Dad were never really around and engaged with them.
In light of this, I've used two main tools to guide my teenagers. The Bear Grylls River Talk and a new invention I've entitled CHIP in. My kids loved the first and roll their eyes at the second. Both have been effective. So if you have teens or those who will be some day travel through these years, I hope these are of help to you.