I don’t know a single parent who wants to see their kids have a hard time — especially a hard time brought on by their own poor choices (Proverbs 13:15). At the same time, though, we all want to see our kids actually come through whatever difficulties God allows into their lives.
There’s a phenomenon right now in which we’re seeing the children of “helicopter parents” lacking the ability to cope with life and being especially anxious about the possibility of failure. It is healthy and can be extremely helpful for kids (and teens, in particular) to experience difficulties and learn that they can get through them and come out on the other side.
Consequences Aren’t To Be Avoided
Are you the kind of parent who calls the principal or teacher, complaining about your kid’s grades or disciplinary action — perhaps even insisting that they give your child a second chance? If so, you might want to think twice about the message you’re sending.
Consider the scenario of a teen girl who becomes sexually active and becomes pregnant, as a result. She might be more likely to make the choice of abortion, leading to further difficulties and heartache. If, instead, she has learned to repent and own up to her choices and their consequences, she will be more likely to do so now in this situation, carefully considering the possible options that don’t mean ending a fellow human’s life.
What if your daughter was in such a quandary? Would she already be accustomed to experiencing natural consequences that stem from her decisions (both blatantly sinful ones as well as simply unwise ones)? Does she know, from those experiences, that you’ll support her through this one, pointing out how God can use this situation to strengthen and mold her?
We Can’t Do It on Our Own
I hinted at it toward the end of that last paragraph, but did you catch it? None of us were made to get through this life on our own — without help from God and support from other people. I know our society highly values independence, but in the words of Henry VanDyke, “In the progress of personality, first comes a declaration of independence, then a recognition of interdependence.”
Many times, under the assumption that it’s shameful or weak to ask for help, people attempt to go through hard times alone. They often end up feeling lost and can crumble under the pressure. God gave us families, churches, and communities in which we can draw on one anothers experiences. He also, of course, gave us His Word. Mining the gold that applies to our specific difficulties at the time when we’re going through them can be difficult; immature believers can benefit from those more experienced in their journey, in finding divine help for hard times.
Even if you don’t share your particular struggles with your teen, make sure they know that you do struggle, and that when you do, you get help and support from God and others.