Our teens might come home with contraband in their backpacks: cigarettes, porn, or pot. It doesn’t matter what the contraband is. We are shocked, then livid, then disappointed, then hurt. Then we have to decide what to do. Normally, we choose to wade in with guns blazing. Before we do, let’s consider the Matthew 13 passage again:
“because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn."
This parable is about people, not wheat. When we know that we have sown good seed, we are angry when some weeds begin to grow along with the good stuff.
My natural reaction is to pull up the weeds. Say what needs to be said, decide the consequences, and go on with life. Weeds pulled. The problem is that I would be “pulling up the good wheat with the bad weeds.” The harvest I demand in behavior would destroy the harvest I want in relationship. This would not be a harvest of righteousness and peace.
If we choose a “Rambo” mindset, we might win the battle, but everything around us gets destroyed. In trying to do the right thing, we don’t do the righteous thing. As parents, we often declare war in our own homes against the ones we are trying to help.
Throw the “Rambo” mindset out; keep your kids.
Let’s discover what pleases God.
Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 30:33 “For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife."
Proverbs 22: 24-25 “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” Approaching a situation in anger causes our teens to learn our ways, and then we are all caught or ensnared.
The Father sends the Holy Spirit with a different strategy. Jesus called the Holy Spirit the “Parakletos: one called alongside.” Aren’t you glad that the Father did not send the “Bully” or the “Enforcer” or the “Rambo?”
Let’s come alongside our children as they become teens and as they make mistakes; we might see a different harvest.
Seek to understand first. Stay calm. Say little. Say softly.
Discuss at a later time when emotions aren’t explosive. No Rambo.
Counsel more, correct less.
Change posture and position. Move from face-to-face and from hovering over to standing alongside. Say, “Let’s look at this situation together.”
Pray together about the situation. This is not easy to do, but fruitful.
Tell your teen, “We are on your side.”
Your willingness to listen to them may open their ears to you and to God’s Spirit. After you have come alongside and listened, you may need to pray and seek counsel about what to do. You do not want to excuse guilt; you do not want to be too harsh. If they are wrong, you must let the ax fall. Just let it fall in sorrow, not in anger.
James 1:19-20 Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
Just a reminder that this involves teens, not little guys. With little guys, there is not so much discussion but more of a benevolent dictatorship. With teens the playing field changes, and so must we.