Jesus on parenting teens: It’s a wilderness!

Note from Lisa:  This is the first of what I hope will be a series of posts entitled “Jesus on parenting teens”.  I’m prayerfully working my way through the gospels to dig out gems of parenting wisdom from Jesus Himself.  (Yes, I know, Jesus was never a parent on this earth, but He’s still smarter than any of us!)  Each post will list the passage of Scripture I’m drawing from, so you can follow along or use as a devotion.  

Yep, this is me, during my "awkward years"!

Yep, this is me, during my “awkward years”!

THE WILDERNESS (Matthew 4:1-11)

Every time I pull out the old home movies we took when the kids were younger, my daughter cringes.  While I enjoy reminiscing and appreciating how much my children have grown and changed, she only sees her middle school self, which she refers to her as “the awkward years.”

I think most of us can relate to feeling that way in the early teen years.  Everything we had known in childhood was changing:  relationships, school, friends, and our bodies.  We had no control over what was happening, and there were new temptations galore.  Most of the time, there seemed to be no road map, no clues how to navigate our way through.

Moving into adolescence is a lot like walking into a wilderness, a place that is frightening and filled with uncertainty.  If you were lucky, you had parents or other adults to lovingly guide you through the turmoil of that time.

Now, it’s your turn to lead your own child through this stage, where the only constant seems to be change.   That makes parenting as much a wilderness for us as it is for our sons and daughters.  It’s difficult to survive on our own.  We will face all kinds of deception, temptation, and confusion in the desert of parenting.  We need help…divine help.

Jesus spent some time in the wilderness (see Matthew 4:1-11).  Here are 6 ways we can draw wisdom from His experiences there and apply them to this season of parenting:

  1. Go willingly.  According to the Scripture, He was led by the Spirit into what He knew was going to be a difficult time.  The teen years can be rough, but try not to be dragged into it kicking and screaming.  Accept that it is a necessary season of growth for your child, and possibly even for you.
  2. Recognize it will be a battle.  Ephesians 6:12 calls it a war.  A war against “the rulers of the darkness of this world”.  When things feel strained between you and your teen, remember that your child is NOT the enemy.  Attack the problem, not each other. 
  3. Come prepared.  War requires strategy, and Jesus knew the Word of God was the best weapon of choice.  With each accusation launched by Satan, Jesus counterattacked with truth.  When applying to parenting, this does not mean beating your child over the head with the Bible!  This means using God’s Word to defeat the REAL enemy (see point #2).
  4. Recognize your need for the Father.  It can be tempting to rely on our own authority when it comes to parenting.  Even Jesus (who WAS God, for crying out loud!), acknowledged His need for God:   “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  God’s wisdom, power, and protection are the life that sustains us in the wilderness.
  5. Don’t give up.  Jesus says it’s dangerous to test God by throwing our hands up in the air in defeat, with the notion that God will just fix it all anyway.  We need to have skin in the game and work in conjunction with what God is doing in our kids’ lives.
  6. Remember what matters.  Satan is a great at diverting our attention to something more pleasurable.  There will be times when we will be tempted to focus on career, hobbies, or even other people.  Like Jesus, we need to draw a line in the sand and proclaim that the things of God, which are eternal, are all that matters.


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