May 22nd, 2012
It never fails; each time I conclude a presentation to teens, a handful of young people approach me one at a time and timidly ask, “Can I talk to you?” They proceed to tell me the same basic, tragic story— they’re sexually active and want to stop but don’t know where to turn for support and accountability.
They’re always tearful. They always feel ashamed. And they always make this statement, “My parents and I aren’t very close.”
Conversely, when I talk with young people who are standing strong in their conviction to live a life of purity, they continually cite their parents as the single greatest influence and describe a close-knit parent-child relationship.
Parents, we’re busy—like, unbelievably busy—but we may be missing the point of this whole parenting thing. We’re so focused on providing the “perfect” upbringing for our kids that perhaps we are withholding the very thing they need the most . . .
Do you have a SURFACE or SPIRITUAL parenting style?
Surface parents make sure their kids’ every outward need is taken care of: homework gets done, laundry is folded and put away, extracurricular activities are going well and their child is flossing before bed, taking vitamins and is signed up to go to VBS or a Christian camp this summer.
Spiritual parents also tend to their kids’ outward needs, but are aware and responsive to their kids’ deeper, spiritual and emotional needs. Although they don’t always show it, all teens and children, boys and girls, have a longing for intimacy. They want to feel—not just cared for—but connected.
Spiritual parents respond to this need by giving their kids the priceless gift of undivided attention, listening intently, and asking probing questions that go beyond surface details. Kids are regularly welcome and encouraged to express how they feel, what’s on their minds and what they are struggling with or excited about.
More to the point, spiritual parents pray with their kids and experience an extraordinary intimacy and connectedness as a result of the depth of their conversations around biblical, life-impacting themes.
Surface or Spiritual: How do you relate to God?
The parent who is vulnerable with God through private and authentic prayer, passionate praise and time spent devoted to studying His Word will likely bring that same authentic passion and devotion into his or her parent-child relationship, thus generating intimacy and connectedness.
Conversely, parents who are uncomfortable expressing devotion to God, praying heartfelt prayers or worshipping the Lord without inhibition will also likely struggle to foster emotional connectedness with their child and engage in heart-to-heart, uninhibited spiritual conversations.
Just like God beckons us to delight in His presence and move beyond an institutional, church-only worship experience with Him, our kids need us to connect on a more significant emotional level that transcends surface-only parenting.
Get alone with God and His Word, and pour out your heart to Him.
Then get alone with your child and invite him or her to confide in you and ask you about anything and everything. Also discuss how a relationship with Christ affects all aspects of life in everyday circumstances. Do this often! Some kids are more talkative than others, but in time, all kids delight in knowing that they have a parent who cares about more than clean socks, carpools and passing report cards.
They have a parent who cares about their deeper, spiritual needs.
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. Deuteronomy 11:18-21