It's no secret I enjoy reading books. There are always books lying around my office and home. There are stacks by my side of the bed and on shelves throughout the house. There are even a couple usually on an end table in our living room.
All that to say, the kids are pretty used to seeing books lay around. In fact, this has modeled a love of books on their part. So they normally have stacks lying around their bedrooms.
Every once in a while, a cover from one of my books intrigues them enough to ask about its' contents. The most recent was Firsthand by Ryan and Josh Shook. (I'll have my review coming on that book soon.) The simple explanation of the book that I gave my two oldest, 11 and 9, was that the book was about owning your faith.
I explained that teenagers often come to a point of skepticism. They will even, sadly, leave their faith behind. But the positive message of the book is that we need to have a firsthand faith that we own, rather than to simply mimic the answers given to us by our parents.
After explaining this to my kids, I awaited a response. They just sat there...confused. Why would someone reject what their parents are telling them? Why wouldn't they believe in everything their parents taught? They found it unfathomable that someone would hear about the good news of Jesus Christ and somehow come to doubt God's love.
If parenting is a game, then I am owning it. It dawned on me that my kids still trust me. This can last, right?
Okay, I am not o naive to think that this is a sign of calm seas ahead, but what am I to think and how am I to deal?
First of all, I assured my kids that doubt can be a good thing as long as we search out the truth. I believe, as parents, we should encourage questions. Questions lead to answers. When we silence doubts, we also silence the opportunity for great conversations ad we stifle growth.
Second, I think parents need to be encouraged to continue to teach at every opportunity. My kids parrot a few of my favorite sayings. For instance, when I ask them about making good choices, it is not uncommon for them to say we do the right thing for the right reason. This is a favorite of mine. They may, at times, roll their eyes while they say it, but they are hearing me.
Finally, I realized that I should not assume that my kids will question everything, go experiment with drugs, find all the worst friends and play out the typical pastor's-kid nightmare. I also should not expect them to be like any teenager I have ever been a youth pastor to. After all, all of my teens have been unique, so why shouldn't these tweeners carve out their own path.
Parents, be encouraged. Teens, like all of us, will need to own their own faith as they grow into adulthood. But how they do that will look different as we create opportunities and embrace the questions as they come. Oh, and keep reading books. There's all sorts of good things we can learn.