Through years of student ministry, Byron and I came to the realization a long time ago that the best way to grow children into adults with real, passionate faith is to be parents who really live out their faith. Simple as that. Simple? Well, okay, maybe not simple.
We have to remember we are fighting a battle when raising our kids and Satan really has it in for them. Satan also has some really crafty plans that are targeting our kids. Internet exposure is raising up a generation of students addicted to pornography just for one, insert Tara's soapbox of really, really long list here of all the really bad things technology and media are doing to lead our students astray. One of the largest results of these attacks that we have seen during our time in the ministry is emotional difficulties. Mainly depression. The Stranger in Your House by Gregory Lantz is a book I will keep to recommend to parents who are worried about this issue.
This book helps you to understand what is "normal" and what should really worry you. That's not too groundbreaking, but the way Lantz discusses these issues in light of faith is. I have a family member raised in a Christian home who is dealing with this issue currently. For a Godly Christian teen to become depressed is to see them reject all that they have been taught, seen modeled in their home, lived by - essentially to reject God -and that is what makes it truly difficult for their parents and family.
Lantz has some great general insight just for parents who are raising emotionally fit kids. It's a GREAT general primer for parents who say, "they became teens and now they are acting all different and strange!" I could quote this book all day, but here's one of my favorites; "When your teen asks spiritual questions and you always have a pat, definitive, this-is-the-way-it-is answer, whether you really feel that way or not, you're giving a fish. But when you start allowing your teen to see how you handle it when you don't have an answer - how you find one or how you learn to live and be patient without one - you're teaching your teen how to fish." I love that.
So often we hide doubts and struggles from our teens, but they really need to see you hanging on to your belief even when it is hard. Saying, "I don't know" is a healthy answer. Your teens need to watch you knowing that God never fails, even though you may fail. It has been our experience that teens who see parents living a, "Do as I say but not as I do" faith will rarely hang on to a strong faith later.
As youth ministers our number one pet peeve is when we talk to parents with teens experiencing problems and they shrug their shoulders and say with a defeated attitude, "she's a teenager" like that is some kind of excuse. I love what Nehemiah says in chapter 4:14, "Don't be afraid of them! Remember that the Lord is great and awesome! Fight for your families, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses!"(CEB version) Love that. Let's make that the motto for dealing with teens, shall we? Worship with them, love the mess out of them, pray your knees off for them, keep them away from the snares of the enemy, and get all in their business if you have to. It's messy work, but they are worth it.
I love this book. I'd highly recommend it. It is available from David C. Cook for $14.99 HERE It's also $9.99 on cbd :)
Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book for the purposes of review only.