Adolescence is an incredibly important developmental time in a child’s life, and as a parent you have a vital role to play in how your child will experience adolescence. We want you to know though that you are not alone. As a church we are here to support you, come along side you and encourage you in what we are doing. The transition from childhood into early adolescence can be on in which many preteens begin to choose paths apart from God, struggle with the many changes that they are experiencing, and seek answers to finding their identity in unhealthy places. Together though we can provide an environment that fosters healthy growth and gives a nurturing environment for adolescents to discover who they are in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Some topics that we have identified as particularly relevant during early adolescence are:
- The Quest for Identity
- Major Struggles
- How Do I Lead Them?
- Next Steps: Family Celebration
1. Quest for Identity
The adolescent years will challenge your child's identity to the very core of who he or she is. The question your child may not verbalize but will continually ask through this process is: "Who am I?" Certain influences on your child's life are forcing him to ask this question repeatedly.
Hormones (physical changes)
Ignorance (of the changes she is experiencing around her)
School, the education process
Media (body type, style, etc)
Guiding your child through this question will impact the rest of his life. Encourage him or her to discover who he or she is. Begin by redirecting the question this way: "Whose am I?" You can help your son or daughter understand his or her identity in terms of his or her relationship to God and love for Him.
And you shall love your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
As parents, we can lead our children to know God created them uniquely for His glory. It is building God-esteem in their lives and helping them view life from a God-centered perspective instead of a self-centered one.
2. Major Struggles During Adolescence
Meaning of Love
Changes including Physical, Social, Emotional and Spiritual
James Dobson's books, "Preparing for Adolescence" and "Preparing for Adolescence Family Guide and Workbook" provides a detailed look at each of these areas and some ways to open up discussion about these issues with your child.
3. How Do I Lead Them?
Developing/Maintaining a relationship that survives the transition to teenage hood
Your child is entering a new phase in life. Your son or daughter will challenge your authority and begin rolling his or her eyes with increased regularity. Your heart connection is more important than ever, as is your intentionality to be their spiritual leader, advocate and role model.
Here are five tips gleaned from parents who have raised godly young adults*:
- Demonstrating a Life in Christ: You must wholeheartedly embrace the outcomes you are pushing your child to achieve.
- Cultivating a Relationship: Your impact on your children's lives is proportional to the depth of the relationship you have fostered with them.
- Guiding your Child to Walk with God: You must have a comprehensive plan for reaching the "promised land".
- Keep Conversations Open: Communication includes not only telling people what they need to know, but also observing pertinent behaviour closely and listening carefully.
- Be Present: Impact is derived by coaching "in the moment", which means your parenting efforts must take place in "real time", not days, hours, or even minutes after an event occurs.
*These tips are taken from George Barna's book, "Revolutionary Parenting" which is a great resource for parenting children of all ages.
4. Next Steps: Family Celebration
An important part of Faith Milestones is recognizing the time of growth in your child, and then celebrating it. We encourage families to celebrate their child's journey into adolescence in one of two ways:
- Family Road Trip: This is a time set aside for at least one parent and their child to take a trip together and talk about some of the key changes happening in their child's life right now and to provide opportunity for the parent to speak words of truth, encouragement and identity into this time of change. A resource recommended for this trip is a CD collection produced by Focus on the Family, which addresses the full scope of adolescence. The CDs are intended for parents and their child to hear together and discuss on their road trip to an exciting place. The trip can be as inexpensive or expensive as the parents prefer. The important ingredients are time away, intentional conversation and fun. The CDs help bring up difficult and often misunderstood aspects of adolescence and address them in a comfortable format. Discussion fostered through this trip can continue for years to come.
- 8 Great Dates for Moms and Daughters: This is a series of dates designed for a mom and her pre-teen daughter to spend quality time together. Each date focuses on one topic surrounding beauty and modesty and is full of fun while also imparting a life and faith-enhancing message. The book, "8 Great Dates for Moms and Daughters" by Dannah Gresh provides everything you need to plan these dates. This can be done individually or in a small group of moms and daughters.