Tripp explains that the benchmarks for this period are “the onset of puberty and the time when the child leaves home to establish a home of his own.” If one words sums up this time in a child’s life, it is insecurity. The child is no longer a child yet is still not an adult. They feel vulnerable and worry about their appearance. They are anxious about their understanding of life and “unstable in the world of ideas.” They are apprehensive about their personality. Against this backdrop of insecurity, they are trying to establish their own individual and independent identity. While kids at this stage of development require more guidance than ever before, they are resistant to any attempt to limit them.
Many times these years are marked by rebellion which can be just an attempt to establish an individual identity. Other times, though, rebellion could be caused by deeper issues. In some kids, rebellion is just the expression of something that has been their the whole time. Tripp does point out though that it is a fallacy to think that a kid becomes a rebel because of the company he keeps. Rather, he explains, kids who are already rebellious tend to find other rebels to hang out with.
Proverbs 1:7-19 provides the foundation for parenting in this stage of life. It states:
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
9 for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.
10 My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14 throw in your lot among us;
we will all have one purse”—
15 my son, do not walk in the way with them;
hold back your foot from their paths,
16 for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
17 For in vain is a net spread
in the sight of any bird,
18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
they set an ambush for their own lives.
19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
it takes away the life of its possessors.
Tripp explains that these verses provide the three foundations of life:
1. Fear of the Lord (v. 7)
Our kids must be motivated by the fear of the Lord. They must understand that they are accountable to him, and they must realize that they will be called to give an account to him. God sees everything. Tripp observes that more than 1/3 of the Bible deals with judgment which should be a sobering thought for our kids. The peer pressure teenagers often succumb to is simply the expression of living in the fear of man rather than the fear of God. In short, Tripp explains, “The teen who understands the fear of God will be delivered from danger. He will possess wisdom. He will grow in the knowledge of God.”
2. Adherence to parental instruction (v 8-9)
Tripp observes that the young person who “adheres to the instruction of his parents will be richly blessed.” Proverbs commands kids to embrace the teaching of their parents (Prov. 6:20-23) and warns that ignoring that teaching amounts to lunacy. As parents, in order to accomplish this objective, our relationship with our kids must be built on honesty. We should never give advice that is in our best interest or convenience rather than theirs. Adherence to parental instruction also means sticking to the “framework of truth” that kids have been taught. According to Deuteronomy 6, this framework is to be taught in the context of daily living. As a word of encouragement to parents, Tripp explains “You do not need to be perfect; you simply need to be people of integrity who are living life in the rich, robust truth of the Word of God.”
3. Disassociation from the wicked (v 10-19)
God recognizes the problem of influence and warns that those who hang out with wicked people will learn their wicked ways. Tripp explains that the best way to keep your kids from being tempted by the offer of camaraderie with wicked people is to make our homes attractive places to be. Tripp explains that “young people generally do not run from places where they are loved and know unconditional acceptance. They do not run away from homes where there are solid relationships. They do not run from homes in which the family is planning activities and doing exciting things.”
In conclusion, Tripp states, “These three foundations of life must blow through every conversation with your teens.”
The teenage years are years of reaping and sowing for parents. We are sowing for their future, but we are also reaping the rewards and consequences of past decisions. If a child is raised as the center of attention in the family, you will reap selfish self-centered kids who don’t feel they have any need for the cross of Christ. However, on the flip side, if we have sown God into our kids’ lives, we reap a harvest of righteousness. Never succumb to the popular idea of our culture that the teenage years are bound to be horrible, and there is nothing you can do about it. Reap when they are young, and sow when they are teenagers.
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