”My great concern is not that you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”
You know who said that? This man lost his job, buried his fiancee’, and was defeated in eight different political elections. This great man was Abraham Lincoln.
Why does failure scare us so? Especially as parents. It is the contentment with failure that should terrify us. We must teach our teens that failure is a reason not to quit but to keep trying. It doesn’t define us, but it can direct us.
As a parent, we love to see our children succeed in anything they do. But ask yourself this question. When did you draw closer to God? When could you hear His voice just a little clearer? Defeat isn’t bad. It’s what we do with it that counts.
Here’s a 3 minute and 56 second video that will encourage you to push past failure…
Now that we know failure is a springboard to success, we, as parents, have to know our teen’s thoughts on what failure is.
Ask your teenager to define failure. What areas in their life do they feel they are failing? It could be school, relationships, athletics, or any number of things. Just remember that these perceived failures are a big deal to them. We can’t minimize it without minimizing them as individuals.
When your teen fails, which they will, sit down with them and ask them how you can help them try again and succeed. But mostly, let them know you love them unconditionally!
This month is about the importance of your role in the life of your teenager. I know there are times that the only role you feel you have is that of an ATM, chauffeur, and referee! But please know that it is a proven fact that you as a parent have more influence in your teen’s life than any other factor. It doesn’t always seem that way but it is true. Just to be honest, parenting a teenager can often be discouraging and overwhelming.
It’s during these times that you have to remember that you play a huge part in guiding and teaching your teen. And to do that well, you have to have confidence! But not any old kind of confidence. It has to be God sized. I like to call it God confidence! It’s the kind of confidence you have, when you are questioning everything and feel absolutely lost, but know that you work inside of truth!
Here is a short video to encourage you today:
1 Corinthians 11:1 says, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” Paul wrote those words to a the church in Corinth. He wasn’t speaking about parenting specifically, but he was giving a beautiful picture of spiritual leadership.You see, the way you as a parent will be able to shepherd the heart of your teenager is for you to simply follow after Christ. I know it can be intimidating to lead spiritually. That’s why I love this Scripture. It simplifies the whole process.
1) Follow Christ, and don’t be afraid to let your teenager see you do it.
2) Have the courage to invite your teenager to follow with you. None of us are perfect, but Christ is. Just tell your teenager, “I’m following Christ every day, so if you want to know how to follow Him, you can follow me.”
That sounds spiritually arrogant doesn’t it? It sounds like you are the expert in following Jesus.
Paul wasn’t expressing spiritual arrogance when he made the statement. Paul was saying, “I love you so much, that I am willing to walk in front of you and lead the way to Jesus.”
Have you ever been completely lost? Have you ever had the experience of stopping to ask for directions, and the person doesn’t just tell you where to go but they lead you there?
It’s so comforting isn’t it? That’s the gift you offer your teenager when you offer to blaze a trail for them to follow in their spiritual journey.
You are extremely important to your teenager whether they acknowledge it or not. Now with that being said, you need to know that you are probably being replaced as the “best friend” in their life. Some of you are shaking your heads as you read this , because you have already dealt with this very issue. One of the hardest things to understand as a parent is how very important friends are to your teen and how not to take it personally when you aren’t the “go to” person anymore.
Talk to your teenager about their friends. Help them determine the qualities of a good friend. And remember , listen to what your teen has to say regarding friendship. They are smart and can be discerning if they aren’t shut down by all of the requirements that you have for prospective friends. You taught them about respect, and trustworthiness, and character. They won’t forget those lessons as they choose their friends.
Allow this to be a time when you can talk openly with your teenager about friendship. Allow them to be just as open. Sometimes it’s very easy to have expectations of your teen that you aren’t willing to have from yourself. Do your friend choices match up with what you are requiring of your teenager? They watch and often navigate down the same roads their parents have taken. Ask yourself if this would be a hard mirror to look in?
The video we are providing gives you great ideas on how to help your teen foster true friendships and learn how to be a true friend themselves. Just remember, you aren’t being replaced. It’s more like they are learning how to better appreciate you in later years. Ok, maybe it is being replaced for a short time. But they need a parent more than they need a friend right now anyways!
In the video for this month, we gave you some basic action steps on helping your teen choose friends wisely. I want to include those in this email so that you can have a resource to use when you need it!
- Give them tools to wisely choose their friends. (recognizing the influence friends have, making a list of qualities they want in a friend, understanding what Godly qualities look like)
- Help them to create boundaries with their friends. (boundaries of respect, time, influence)
- Teach them how to let a friendship dissolve. (When it is unhealthy, when it has run its course, without letting it affect their self esteem when a friend walks away)
- Take a step back! (Guide them in their choice but don’t control, encourage them without manipulating them, understand that this is a very important step in the life of your teen, don’t take it personally)
One of the most beautiful pictures of friendship in the Bible is the relationship between David and Jonathan throughout I Samuel. In chapter 18 it says ,”…Jonathan committed himself to David, and loved him as much as he loved himself.” It often seems hard to find that kind of friendship any more. But not impossible!
The greatest lesson to be learned from the friendship of Jonathan and David is not what to look for in a friend, but how to be the kind of friend that honors God. Trustworthy, honest , kindhearted, loyal, and faithful are all wonderful qualities to find in a friend. Our teens need to know those qualities must be fostered in themselves first and then searched for in others.
Nobody told you when you had children how personal it would feel when that very same child made a mistake that broke your trust. Nobody told you how much it would hurt your feelings. And, I don’t even know if anyone ever told you how important it would be to let your teen know that trust can be restored!
But let me tell you now! It is imperative that your teenager knows that no matter how big of a mistake or a mess they make, you haven’t slammed the door on them. Sometimes that is really, really hard.
Teenagers have no idea that the decisions they make, good and bad, are absorbed into the very heart of you, their parent. And, as parents, you often give that decision great influence over your confidence as a parent! Let me say this and please hear me. The choices your teenagers make do not define you as a parent! They are your teenager’s choice.
Your job was and has always been to teach them what is right and then give them the freedom to choose. The second part of that same job is to teach them about the consequences of all choices. And when that choice is made in the heat of the moment that is guided by maturing teenage logic and wisdom (or lack thereof), we as a parent need to let that teen know trust can be restored. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but at some point that trust can be brought back to its original condition.
“How could you hurt me like that?” Have you ever wanted to scream those words in the face of your teen? Or at least murmur them in passing? Although screaming might be somewhat of a stress reducer!
Your teen often has no idea the power that they hold over you to hurt your heart as a parent. That’s why sometimes they don’t understand why you have to take a step back in order to process what they have just done or said that brings you pain.
In order for our teens to learn how to restore trust with us, they also have to learn that sometimes we just need a moment to work through the pain that they just caused us. Anytime something causes pain, our initial reaction is to push away. We can’t do that when it is our teenager causing the pain.
When King David broke trust with God by taking another man’s wife and then killing that same man (I Samuel 11 & 12) God didn’t immediately confront David. I Samuel 11:27 says, “When the time of mourning was over, David sent and brought her (Bathsheba) to his house and she became his wife; then she bore him a son. But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord.”
The time of mourning for Jews was at the least 30 days, and it also says that Bathsheba bore David a son by the time the prophet Nathan appeared to tell David what God had to say.
My point in sharing this story with you is to remind you that when your teenager makes a choice that is diametrically opposed to Godly principles you have always taught, you need to take a moment or a day or even longer to work through the anger, the fear, and the sadness of the results of broken trust.
You will be better able to help your teen understand that their choices affect so many more people than just themselves. You can teach them how to take responsibility, ask for forgiveness, and recognize how to restore that trust with you. Whether you know it or not, your trust is very valuable to your teen. Have you ever lost something of value? How much more valuable is it to you when you find it again? Don’t you take better care of it?