Teaching teens about God should focus on the inside, not the outside.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2.
I’ve known people who’ve taken this verse to the extreme, like the Amish or Quakers, and if that’s how they feel called to live, I respect that. However, God is more concerned about what’s inside than what’s outside–the condition of our hearts versus the color of our hair or the number of tattoos–because He knows that focusing on the inside usually affects the outside. But focusing on the outside usually ignores the inside.
This verse takes on a whole new meaning when we apply it to parenting teens. How can you help your teens live the “don’t copy” lifestyle at an age when copying is the norm?
Focus on the Soul, not the Style.
There’s a lot of things your teens will do that will drive you crazy. But try your best to ignore almost everything that grates on your nerves because there are usually more important battles to fight.
You may need to ignore the messy bedroom, relax the curfew every now and then, and tolerate moodiness, just so that you can focus on the important stuff. Pay attention to habits, actions, and decisions that violate the values you are trying to teach them.
Let me take a quick time-out and insert here that if you’ve not established your family’s core values, then make time to do so. Those values will guide your decisions as a family and they will help you choose your battles with your teen.
For instance: your teen decides to take up drinking or drugs. It’s time to exercise some tough love, for the sake of your family’s sanity and for your teen’s safety.
For instance: your daughter dresses like a hooker. It’s time for a conversation about modesty.
The for-instances go on and on, depending on what values you uphold in your house.
Set the Example in Seeking God.
One of my favorite verse is Matthew 6:33 which says, “Seek first God’s kingdom” and every other area of your life will be taken care of. Seeking God is the only way to get transformed on the inside, which results into a “don’t copy” lifestyle.
Seeking God means reading and obeying what God tells us to do in the Bible. It means asking God for direction and wisdom in every area of your life.
When you do that, your life will not be like many others around you. Your behavior will stand out because you are honest and compassionate. Your “customs” will be habits that are spiritually, physically, and emotionally healthy.
That is what your kids will see and be more likely to follow, much more than a bunch of rules and regulations.
Insisting that your children behave or look a certain way “just because” is legalism. Caring for and guiding your child’s soul towards God is the anti-thesis of legalism and is how God really wants us to live for Him. When that happens, the “don’t copy” lifestyle will be a natural outflow of you and your child’s heart.
Do you feel stuck in a rut, and overwhelmed by the demands of parenting?
Not to mention wondering if you are doing the right things to help your children grow up to love and honor God?
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