I thought my 20 plus years of student ministry would prepare me for the task of parenting a teenager. I thought wrong!
A while ago, my son and I were driving and he decided to broach the subject of my over the top rules surrounding social media. He called me on the carpet for changing my rules and requirements three different times, and he has had enough. I confessed that this was my first time parenting a teenager. He did not find comfort in that excuse and finally let me have it, "Dad, you have been telling parents for years how to parent their kids and help them set up rules for social media. What's the problem?"
It was at that point I had to confess that I have no idea what I am doing, and ask for his forgiveness and patience.
Upon further reflection, I have realized that this was just an exposed crack in the deepening divide that is happening between me and my teenage son. This distance is causing such sorrow and anxiety, in a way that I could never have imagined.
I know all about the process of individuation and the powerful transformation that happens during the teen years. I get that they have to figure out who they are separate from their parents. They have to develop their own values, their own choices, their own faith! I know this in my head, but in my heart, I AM FREAKING OUT!!!
This is where you come in, faithful youth worker!
You are a total godsend. You are the one, called by God to walk with my kids, to be an adult who is separate from me, an adult who can love them, care for them, and help them navigate the chaos of adolescence, all the while being emotionally detached just enough to see the bigger picture.
You are more than an anchor for my kids and for their understanding of their faith. You are more than an adult who can make the Christian faith attractive. You are more than an ambassador from the Christian world to the world they live in, the world beneath. (These are all vital roles for my kids.)
But for me, you are a lifeline, a hopeful reminder that God has not forgotten my kids. As they distance themselves from me, as they develop friendships and worldviews that are hidden from me, I have hope that there is another adult in their life to see them, for them to trust and navigate the complexities of their world. I am hopeful that you are someone who is standing with us as we are praying our guts out for our kids.
As parents of teenagers, our souls are crushed. The precious kids who looked at us as heroes, now look at us with disgust and disdain when we step too far into their world.
I thank God for you, for the ministry you do with my kids, and for the ministry you do for me. Thank you for the way you selflessly run after my punk kids and so many of the punk kids in our community. You pour out your cup with the expectation of little in return. You are a faithful servant of our King, and I would like to add my voice along with his, "WELL DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT!"