As parents, and simply as human beings, we all have our fears. According to Dr. Ed Welch, even the most successful and apparently confident among us fear failure, rejection, vulnerability. For many of us, parenting teens can cause those fears to escalate, especially when our kids start asking the hard questions. But we can’t let our own fears keep us from being honest with our kids. Before we talk about “how,” we’ll consider the all-important “why.”
Honesty Is Important
Even when our kids are small, it’s important to be honest. However, vague generalities often suffice. In fact, too much information, too soon, can be detrimental. God’s Word encourages retaining innocence and limiting knowledge of evil (Matthew 10:16, Romans 16:19). At the same time, walking with integrity requires honesty (Matthew 5:37).
As kids get older, we need to equip them to deal with the realities of life by entrusting them with more and more information — about ourselves, our faith, and our world. Especially in our technological age, if they are curious, they will easily be able to discover information that they crave, anyway.
Betrayal Is Hurtful
In addition to the ethical importance of honesty, the relational significance is huge. If your teen finds out that you’ve kept significant information from him or her or that you’ve been misleading in any way, the feelings of being betrayed will be difficult to overcome. No one wants to be misled or embarrassed, and once the trust has been breached, it is difficult to rebuild.
Instead of hoping your teen will never find out the truth, you can bravely face your fear and trust God to take care of the rest. After all, “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
Avoidance Is Unhealthy
Yes, I know it’s easier. But really? In the end, it’s not better. Again, consider your relationship with your teen. Do you want it to be marked by manipulation and passive-aggressive behavior, or transparent vulnerability and selfless love?
When you purposefully avoid certain topics or create an environment in which they’re obviously taboo, you create an atmosphere of anxiety and reserve in your home. That kind of spirit is not godly, but fleshly (2 Timothy 1:7). In addition, you will unwittingly encourage your teen to erect his or her own walls of reservation, which won’t be in their best interest, at all.
Fostering an atmosphere of honesty won’t be easy, but the same God who made you can empower you to face your fears. Especially when you’re motivated by humility and genuine love, your fears will be eclipsed by the positive values you’re instilling in your teens, as well as the opportunity to see God’s grace carry you and His light shine through you, even through your broken places.
Continue reading with Part 2.