We gave our preteen son a great Bible that's appropriate for his age, and have repeatedly encouraged him to develop a daily quiet time. Yet he doesn't seem to have any interest in doing so. I don't know the best way to tackle this with our son.
May I offer a few practical tips our family's used? For starters, since the time my kids were toddlers, I've incorporated "read your Bible" time into their daily routine, somewhere between "brush your teeth" and "make your bed." When they were tiny, we used a simple picture Bible. As they've grown, they've enjoyed our reading out of The Message, The Living Bible, and The New Living Translation together. These paraphrases and translations bring the stories to life and the truths to heart.
The amount of reading we've recommended has varied. I absolutely love the power of Proverbs for preteens! That's why I think one chapter of Proverbs a day is a great way to start. There's so much wisdom wrapped up in that daily dose that I wouldn't mind if my preteen remained in Proverbs for a whole year!
We've also purchased children's devotions that make thinking deeper about the Scriptures fun. Kay Arthur's Inductive Bible Studies for Kids series is awesome. And since I'm such a Beth Moore fan, I was thrilled to discover she adapted her study, A Heart Like His: Seeking the Heart of God Through a Study of David, for students. I promptly bought it for my teenage son.
Our latest attempt at gentle motivation is a combination of The Two Year Bible and cold hard cash. I promised my son, Tucker, that if he read the allotted Bible portion every night without prompting, I'd buy him a new PlayStation 2 game every six months. I have to admit, this has been the most successful persuasion so far. While this isn't a long-term strategy, I'm hoping this incentive will help Tucker cultivate a desire to stay consistently in the Word on his own.
Of course, when it comes to shaping and molding, nothing's as effective as "modeling" clay. Make sure your son catches you having your personal quiet time with the Lord. You may not see the results as quickly as through some of the other ways I've suggested, but the impact will be more meaningful in the long run.
Parent with a Past
When I was a teen, I rebelled against my Christian upbringing, did drugs, became promiscuous, and even had an abortion. Now I'm a mom of a nine-year-old daughter. How much of my past should I share with my child? Or should I skirt the whole issue?
If your question is, "Should I confess my sins to my daughter?," then the answer's no. If you've already confessed your sins to Jesus, then "he has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12, TNLT). If he's chosen to forget your sins, I see no reason for you to dredge them up.
However, I understand why you want to assure your daughter that you understand the tumultuous teen years. We can take our cues from Jesus. Hebrews 4:15 explains: "This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, since he had the same temptations we do, though he never once gave way to them and sinned. So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need" (TLB).
Because of the mercy you've received from Jesus, when it comes to compassion, you have a lot to offer your daughter. So without going into all the gory details, let your daughter know you faced the same temptations she'll encounter. Assure her that although at times you didn't overcome them, God's grace has been sufficient in your weaknesses. You'll be able to sit at the edge of your daughter's bed and sincerely say, "I know what you're going through." She'll find comfort in those words, just as we find comfort in knowing Jesus understands our weaknesses.
Rejected by a Clique
My 11-year-old daughter's become the odd girl out in the friendship arena. Her best friend's hanging out with another girl, and the two of them now are intentionally leaving my daughter out. I remember the pain of junior-high cliques, and I hate to see my daughter rejected. What can I do?
The best thing you can do is empathize with your daughter and share her pain, because sometimes life is painful, and there's no way around it, only through ittogether.
The Bible has lots to say about this kind of situation, but it's tough medicine to swallow, even for adults. Recognize any of the following Scriptures? "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse" (Romans 12:14); " 'Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?' 'No!' Jesus replied, 'seventy times seven!'" (Matthew 18:21-22, TNLT); "But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44, TNLT).
Perhaps you can help your daughter focus on the righteousness Jesus calls us to, rather than the wrong that's dealt her by her so-called friends. Pray with her about the situation, and then remind her that Jesus knows exactly what she's going through, considering he too was rejected by Judas, a disciple and close friend. And after your daughter's forgiven these girls, prayed for them, and blessed them, she could invite them both over to your house for something to eat or drink, and in the process, "they will be ashamed of what they have done to [her]" (Romans 12:20, TLB).
Lisa Whelchel is the author of Creative Correction (Tyndale) and So You're Thinking About Homeschooling (Multnomah). She and her husband, Steve, have three children. Check out her website at www.lisawhelchel.com. E-mail your parenting questions to TCWfeedback@christianitytoday.com, or see page 6 for other ways to contact us.
Copyright 2003 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.
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