Standing in the Gap
Posted by Phil
I’ve worked closely with teenagers for the past 11 years. I have considered it my job to know and understand teenagers the best I can. Perhaps the best way to do that, in my opinion, is to be with them. Most would agree that it’s hard to understand a culture that you are not a part of. You can study it, read books about it (or articles like this one), hear first hand accounts of it, and still not have a clear understanding of why things are the way they are. You have to actually be a part of the culture, live with them, experience what they experience, listen to what they listen to, see what they see, and show up in their space….if you want to actually understand them. I considered it a privilege to get to be a part of this culture for many years!
The Parent Factor
Here’s the problem. Eventually, as a parent, you experience that separation from your teenager. You feel as if you can’t show up in their space as you once did, or you will be crowding them. They stop telling you everything. You stop understanding their jokes. And you find yourself missing out, and not a part of their culture anymore. Yes, this is hard.
First, never stop pursuing your kids! Continue to show up in their life and communicate that you love them no matter what they do. When nothing else works, keep showing up.
Standing in the gap
We pray for another caring adult. I am a huge believer in praying for another caring adult who can come along side your teenager. Another follower of Jesus, who can earn the right to be heard by your child. Through shared experiences, this young (or old) adult can break through barriers that seem impossible for a parent. Somehow its just different. Some of you are lucky enough to have incredibly open relationships with your teens. Even for you, the value of these other non-parent relationships with your child is enormous. Pray for these people as they walk along side your child in some of the most difficult years of their life. And remember, as great a relationship as these other folks can have with your babies…they will never replace you as a parent. That is a role just for you.
Be thankful for your youth leaders at your church, or your YoungLife and WyldLife leaders, or even your camp counselors. The Lord uses them in great ways! More than anything else, pray for them and support them. Pray for wisdom and for favor in the eyes of the teenagers they work with…
And while you pray, never stop pursuing your kids and showing up in their space, at their practices, at their games, where they work, wherever they are…
Where do you show up in your child’s space? How do you support them and love them by “just showing up?” Share your thoughts or stories below…
Camp Director, YoungLife leader and Father