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Parenting Your Teen and Loving It (2009)

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book excerpt

The Roots of Faithless Parenting

By Susie Davis
Author of Parenting Your Teen and Loving It

CBN.comFaith doesn’t come easy to me, especially in regard to parenting. But what I have realized is that it’s not because God isn’t able; it’s because I have trust issues with God. Many of my trust issues stem from my childhood experiences.

At fourteen, I witnessed a murder in my eighth grade classroom — a student shot and killed my teacher with a rifle point blank in front of me and thirty other classmates. In addition, my best friend’s sister was raped, her neck sliced open, then she was tied to a tree and left for dead. My neighbor’s stepmother was brutally attacked with a screwdriver by a deranged vagrant hiding in her attic. These experiences and others have etched a stronghold of unimaginable fear in my psyche. And though I dealt with many of the repercussions as a young adult, when I became a mother, they all took on a new and devastating meaning. It was one thing for me to witness violent crime, but God forbid my children should ever go through what those people went through. And God forbid I should experience that sort of pain on my child’s behalf. Those are the kinds of thoughts that drive me to parent from a place of fear and not of faith.

What I have found is that often my inability to parent out of a faith perspective is really about pain avoidance. For example, when my kids left for their respective New Year’s Eve parties, my thought was, “That’s not safe . . . late night driving . . . drunk drivers on the road.” My conditioned response was one of “don’t let bad things happen,” which has a lot to do with what I witnessed in junior high. But if I could dig even deeper and examine my true inner response, I would hear a voice screaming like a little baby inside my heart, “No! Don’t do it — it makes me so scared. Please stop making me feel so scared. I don’t want anything bad to ever happen again.” Just being honest. My desire to manage and control my kids, instead of believing God for them, has a lot to do with avoiding pain: theirs and mine. And in listening to other mothers, I see the same thing with them too.

Like my friend Lisa. Her daughter Jenny is seventeen, precocious, and looks like a model for Victoria’s Secret. (She actually looks a lot like her mother did when she was her age.) The thing is, Lisa is terrified that Jenny will “go over the line” where boys are concerned. She accelerates into hyperdrive when Jenny is with boys — whether they are just friends or guys that Jenny likes and wants to date. But because she is so vigilant about protecting Jenny’s purity, Lisa often lapses into lecturing her even when she is around her friends — embarrassing and demeaning Jenny. Though Lisa has trouble realizing it, her manic attention is a result of negative consequences in her own life. When Lisa was a teenager, she not only had sex but also ended up getting pregnant and having an abortion. Lisa plainly doesn’t want Jenny to live with the same remorse and the shame and the painful memories. So Lisa focuses on the statistics, attempting to scare Jenny into compliance regarding her sexuality. And as Lisa allows fear to be her primary parenting focus, Jenny pushes away, moving further and further down the road of sexual experimentation.

So what’s the point? Am I asking you to be fearless? To ignore your past regardless of it’s impact? To mask your real feelings?

No, I am asking you to realize a very important truth: God is in control, and he is big enough to handle your teenager’s worst choices, their biggest temptations, and even protect them from things you don’t know how to handle. And all the effort in the world cannot protect and guide your teenager the way God can, so I implore you to beg God for help and direction. Put aside fear and parent instead with a complete faith in God.

Psalm 127:1 says this: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (NIV).

It could be rephrased for parents, “Unless the Lord raises the teenager, her parents labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the teenager, the parents stand guard in vain.” As mothers, we must acknowledge that even our best-laid plans will fail without God. Unless he is in the business of building and securing our teenager’s life, all our hard work will be in vain. He alone is their builder and their keeper.

To read more, get a copy of Susie Davis' book, Parenting Your Teen and Loving It.

Used by permission of Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, copyright © 2009. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.

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