Of course, there are problems with trying to be your teenager’s friend, instead of his or her parent and authority. However, there can also be problems when we (try to) put ourselves up on too much of a pedestal, making ourselves too distant, and coming across as adversaries instead of allies. Let’s take our cue from Jesus Christ, who let us know that He was tempted, too (Hebrews 4:15).
The Value of Humility
In addition to following Christ’s example, letting our teens know we struggle with temptation takes humility. And God values that trait (Psalm 75:1, Isaiah 66:2, Matthew 5:5). Let’s face it, the main reason we don’t want to admit to our kids that we even struggle with sin — no less fail in the fight, at times — is pride. And that’s another sin to add to our list.
Especially when we sin against our kids, we need to confess to them as well as to our Father, who forgives us even though He never sins against us. We might argue that to admit our own sin to our kids is to show weakness. That is true, and it is beautiful: In our weakness, God is glorified. We’re all just clay pots, parents or not.
The Value of Camaraderie
No one likes to feel like they’re alone, and that fact might be heightened for adolescents who feel especially uncomfortable in a changing body and with a mind developing to enable them to think more analytically and spiritually. They might not be willing or able to express their own sin struggles, but they can still benefit from hearing others talking through temptations and hearing ways others have personally been able to see victory over those struggles.
Particularly within the same family, people often tend to struggle with the same propensities, so this kind of sharing can be especially helpful. When your teen realizes you’re an ally who’s also engaged in spiritual warfare rather than a dignitary with no battle experience, you’ll stand to gain a closer connection than you could any other way.
The Value of Honesty
In addition to closeness, your openness about your own struggles will also earn you greater respect. Perhaps that’s exactly what you’re worried about losing in being honest about your weaknesses and failures. But teens have an uncanny radar for a lack of genuineness and a particular disdain for hypocrisy. Even if you wish you had more victories than defeats, your honesty will go a long way toward building a real relationship with your teen, who realized you weren’t perfect a while ago, anyway.
It’s high time we all stopped pretending — and making our kids feel like they need to pretend, too — or be seen for complete failures. The truth is that we all struggle and fail at times. But that’s where God’s grace comes in.