Just starting Paul David Tripp’s Age of Opportunity, a Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens. I have had this book on my shelf for years- it comes highly recommended by so many in my life. And I am so glad that there is a little room in my life right now to read it.
Parenting teenagers gets the same response in conversations that marriage can get sometimes. Roll of the eyes, comments on how difficult it is, a you-just-wait piece of advice that leaves the hearer full of dread. The connotation is that the experience is going to be so bad that you will be lucky to survive it and the joy you feel right now in parenting your infant (or being engaged in the marriage analogy) will quickly fade once you hit the hard road of jr high!
I am only in the first two chapters and I am already impressed with Tripp’s ability to point out why that cynicism rears its ugly head.
Our own idols.
“These years are hard for us because they expose the wrong thoughts and desires in our own hearts.” (17)
He asks us what part of creation have we exchanged for the Creator. What really rules our heart and blocks our vision in relationship to our children? Those idols will be a stumbling block in our relationship with them. (and truly a stumbling block in ALL of our relationships). He uses the illustration of a hand in front of your face. As the fingers block your view of what is in front of you, so do our idols as we look at our teens (or anyone else).
Our idol of respect. Our idol of appreciation. Our idol of comfort. Our idol of Success. Our idol of control.
When these idols become what we live for, “we will unwittingly look with hyper-vigilant eyes for” them in every situation. (33)
Looking for areas where they were not respectful, areas where they made our lives difficult or failed to appreciate all of our efforts. And we become angry.
Angry that they have taken away something very valuable to us.
“Parenting is not to conform my children to my image, but to work so that they are conformed to the image of Christ! My goal is not to clone my tastes, my opinions, and my habits in my children.I am not looking for my image in them; I long to see Christ’s.” (38)
I already love this book and know it will be a blessing to me as we welcome the teenage years; as it encourages me to see those years as an opportunity to help our children grow in their faith. That is exciting! I am thankful for those people in our life who speak of their teenage children as blessings too. We need to hear the joy of the experience too.