From the very moment of conception, a couple's life is forever changed. The nine-month incubation period ends; the baby is entrusted to the arms of very nervous, totally inexperienced parents; and life as they have known it, is turned on its axis. The care and nurturing of this little one is the sole responsibility of these new parents, and for the most part, it is "on the job training." The hospital does not send a "How to Be a Parent" book home with the young couple. However, God has given them the best "how to" book possible: His Word. If parents base their child rearing on the precepts of God, they will be successful parents. The day-to-day care, feeding, clothing, health and medical needs, etc. are not specifically addressed in the Bible, but the most important injunctions regarding their spiritual nurturing and well-being are set forth in God's Word.
Infants soon become toddlers, and toddlers all too quickly morph into teen-agers! This is the demographic that I will be addressing in this article, specifically moms and their teen-aged sons. A page is turned when our children become teens, heading rapidly toward adulthood. We are given a short window in which to instill in these young hearts the tenets necessary for their becoming sound, productive, and faithful Christians. Of course, the foundation should have been laid from the moment the newborn gasped its first breath of life. Bible truths and godly living must be instilled from the very onset of parenthood (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
The primary responsibility for spiritual guidance in the home belongs to the husband and father (Ephesians 5:22-23). However, the mother also bears a grave obligation to teach and instruct her children in the ways of the Lord. Fathers and mothers have different roles to follow with regards to their teen-aged son (or daughter). Dads typically guide and instruct their sons in how to play ball, fish, hunt, and learn “manly” things. They bear the major responsibility of instructing their sons about the “birds and bees” (much to the relief of the moms!). Mom’s role during this crucial period of growth and development is to enhance their teen-aged sons in the “softer side.”
I will focus on the “T’s of Guiding Teen-aged Boys.”
The first “T” is thankfulness. We live in a society of ingrates. The spirit of gratitude is alien to most. Of course, it was evident in Biblical times as well. The Israelites were an ungrateful people. So frequently they “forgot the Lord their God” (1 Samuel 12:9; Judges 3:7). They were commanded to “set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; and may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God” (Psalm 78:7-8). We have the example in New Testament times of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus. Nine of them went on their merry ways and never looked back. Only one “fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan” (Luke 17:16).
Mothers need to demand at a very early age that children feel and express gratitude. Teach them that God expects us to glorify Him and be thankful unto Him in all things. “Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:3-4). Our petitions to God should be filled with love and appreciation for all His many blessings (Philippians 4:6). Children should be taught to express thanks and show appreciation for the food, clothing, and shelter provided to them by parents. Instruct your teen-agers to express gratitude to others for favors shown to them. Drill in them the necessity of taking the time to write thank you notes…boys and girls! This is a lost art in modern society! It is a rarity today when notes are written in thanksgiving for graduation gifts, wedding or baby presents. Parents also must set the example in this regard.
Teen-aged boys (and girls) also need to be taught the importance of being thoughtful. Current society is steeped in the “me” mentality. “Looking out for number one” is the mantra of the day. Teens must be taught thoughtfulness, respect, kindness, and care for others. Thoughtlessness leads to selfishness and disregard for others. We are instructed to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another” (Ephesians 4:32). We should teach our children to be concerned and solicitousness toward the elderly and less fortunate. Jesus had compassion on the hungry multitude (Matthew 15:32), for the widow whose son had died (Luke 7:13), and on the devil possessed man (Mark 5:19). Moms, teach your teen boys to have compassion and consideration for others, especially the less fortunate.
The next “T” is thriftiness. Most young people today are clueless about finances, because they have never been taught how to handle money by their parents. Unfortunately, too often parents are poor role models in this regard. The “Depression mentality” is characteristic of a generation that grew up with appreciation for frugality and hard work. Today’s society “wants what it wants when it wants it.” Young couples expect to have a house filled with the finest furnishings, two late-model cars with all of the “bells and whistles,” closets filled with designer clothes, and wallets filled with credit cards. “You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter” (James 5:5) describes many, even some Christians today.
Sons should be taught to become heads of their households, upholding Christian principles of respect for material possessions, realizing that God has granted them to us “on loan,” and that they must be good stewards. Teens should be taught to follow three guidelines in properly handling their financial situations. They should put God first, savings second, and then discretionary spending with the remainder of their allowances or jobs. They must realize that God is the Giver of all blessings (James 1:17) and that He expects us to be prudent in utilizing them.
Finally, teen sons (and daughters) must be taught trustworthiness. First of all, they must develop from an early age an implicit trust in God (Proverbs 3:5). Parents should live in such a way that children can have total confidence in their veracity. The old saying, “Let your word be your bond” should be the standard of trustworthiness. The precepts of Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 should be ingrained in their consciences. Children should never witness parents prevaricating or defending “little white lies.” Lies are not categorized as “big” or “little.” “[A]ll liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). Therefore, lying is serious business, and truthfulness and trustworthiness should be demanded by parents. Once trust is breached, it is most difficult to regain. Implicit trust of parents and children produce wondrous rewards.
Parenting teens is a daunting task that must not be taken lightly. Moms and Dads have specific roles in this regard. Both should strive to bring their children up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). They should work in tandem, each providing their expertise in the realms in which God divinely implanted in them.