Apr 6

One Grand Secret

2009 at 5:19 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Motherhood | Parenting Teenagers

Continuing our series on best deals for mothers of teenagers we turn to Titus 2:4 for a priceless nugget of mothering wisdom. It tells us to “love [our] children” tenderly. This may not appear to be a new and novel parenting tip, but J.C. Ryle insisted that this biblical principle is “one grand secret of successful training.”

This tender love he described as “a willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take part in childish joys—these are the cords by which a child may be led most easily—these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way to their heart.”

Similarly, Paul Tripp encourages us as parents to “remember what it was like to live in the scary world of the teen years.”

A simple test of the effectiveness of tender love requires only a moment of self-reflection. Don’t we all respond better to a person who takes an interest in us and expresses affection than to someone who tries to force or manipulate us to comply with their wishes?

Our teenagers are no different. Discipline, correction, and training are ineffective and even detrimental when void of tender love. But these same tools are more readily welcomed if they come with a kind and gentle hand. The biblical maxim to treat others as you would like to be treated most certainly applies here.

And wasn’t it a tender love that the Savior showed to us when He granted us salvation? He leads us with “cords of kindness” (Hos. 11:4), and “He does not deal with us according to our sins” (Ps. 103:10.

So the most important reason to show tender love is because it displays Christ’s love to our teenagers.

Apr 2

Children, Imitate Me

2009 at 5:23 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Motherhood | Parenting Teenagers

In difficult situations with our teenagers, a humble example is a powerful tool that breaks down barriers. A humble spirit helps us get behind the walls our teenagers may erect. It’s a doorway into their hearts, no matter how hard they have become. 

From the time our children were old enough to communicate, C.J. and I asked them regularly, “If there is one thing about Daddy and mommy you could change, what would it be?” Often they said silly things like, “Give us more ice cream.” But occasionally their comments provided valuable insights into our deficiencies as parents. And although the phrasing matured over the years, we never stopped asking the question.

Why not ask your teenager the same question before the week comes to the close?

Only after we humble ourselves can we encourage our children to follow our example. Comments like “Why don’t you do what I say?” or “When will you ever learn?” will not promote godliness in our teens. But our humility will soften their hearts and inspire them to imitate our example.

And we must not hesitate to encourage them to follow our example (if it is indeed a humble, godly one!). Many parents consider that to be prideful. They simply hope their quiet example will produce the intended effect.

By the grace of God, it may. But we would be wise to emulate the apostle Paul’s more aggressive approach. In humility, he encouraged the believers to follow his example as he followed Christ. He exhorted them in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” And again in Philippians 3:17: “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”

So let’s take our teenagers by the hand and say, “Come, follow me in to the riches of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Apr 1

Not Perfect, But Humble

2009 at 4:01 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Motherhood | Parenting Teenagers

If you’re like me, you’re painfully aware of the imperfect example you are to your teenagers. But this is good, for it brings us back to the cross.

We are sinful mothers; however, we must not forget that the Savior died for sinners such as we. We will never be able to hold up for our teenagers a perfect example; however, we should display the humble, honest example of a woman striving after holiness, by the grace of God.

6a00d8341c032a53ef01156fb3ebd5970b-320wi In fact, our sins provide an opportunity for the light of the gospel to shine into our relationship with our teenager. If we humble ourselves, confess our sins, and ask for our children’s forgiveness, we will be showing the power of Christ’s saving work.

I vividly remember one interaction between my two daughters—Nicole and Kristin—when they were little. I had gotten angry with Kristin and afterwards I overheard Nicole reassuring her sister from vast experience: “Don’t worry, Kristin—Mom always asks forgiveness.” I didn’t know whether to be pleased or discouraged!

While I didn’t want to believe Nicole had so many illustrations to draw from, I was relieved that her experience, though not of a perfect mom, was at least tempered by some measure of humility on my part.

Paul Tripp concurs: “Living consistently with the faith does not mean living perfectly, but living in a way that reveals that God and his Word are the most important things to you. Such a [mother] can even honor God in [her] failure, with [her] humility in confession and [her] determination to change.”

Let’s walk carefully through this season with teenage children by giving them a humble example to follow.