As your child matures into a teen, your anxiety over a “moment of truth” — or several — can create a barrier in your relationship. It’s important to realize that there are some pretty good reasons (see Part 1) you shouldn’t shirk from this opportunity to face your fears and guide your teen in discovering important information — about ourselves, our faith, and our world.
As important as the “why” may be, the “how” can still be daunting. Like any journey to confront a fear, it’s important to break them down into manageable steps.
Don’t wait, as if the questions are constantly hanging in the air, ready to accost you when you’re most vulnerable. For one thing, such an approach (if you could call it that?) will only feed your fear and lessen your ability to carefully, humbly, and confidently communicate with your teen.
Intentionally broaching difficult topics at appropriate times, when you’re prepared for the subject, will go a long way toward helping the communication to be as positive and peaceful as possible.
Even if you plan to bring up certain topics, though, your teen may ask you questions before your planned-for conversation. Since you’ve already considered how you’ll handle it, you can honestly say something like this: ”That’s a good question, and I’ve been thinking about how to discuss it with you. I’m not quite ready yet, but I promise that we’ll make it happen sometime this month.” Of course, the key element, then, is to make sure you deliver on your promise.
When you’re proactive about starting conversations about the hard stuff, you’ll be in a better position to resist the temptation to be defensive, particularly when it comes to issues relating to your own failures. Moral failures or previously withheld information about family history can make a defensive stance especially tempting.
However, if you’ve already established an atmosphere and expectation of Gospel living, the pattern of sin, confession, and repentance will not be new to your teen. You may fear that your teen will respect you less or consider your failings to legitimize their own. But if you also communicate the problems that stemmed from your sinful choices and have laid a foundation for understanding the relationship between sin and grace, you can pray for the Holy Spirit to help guide your teen into greater obedience to God through learning of your failure.
As you consider discussing hard topics and fielding hard questions from your teens, you may feel overwhelmed by the prospect — or even not up to the challenge.
As you face your fears with confidence and prepare to be honest and transparent about these difficult issues, you can be assured that you will not be alone or helpless.
Just as God reminded Joshua, His presence offers you the strength and courage you need to face this challenge (Joshua 1:9).