Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tender Talk

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tender Talk

Article excerpt

Parenting teenagers can at times seem harder than studying nuclear physics. At least with physics, you have known laws and expected results. But while dealing with teenagers is often amiable, getting the desired results isn't always as certain as I'd like it to be.

When my kids were younger, they'd come running to the door, shouting, "Daddy's home," and launch themselves into my arms. Now, during these critical teen years when they are spreading their wings and making decisions that could affect them for the rest of their lives, they are eager to be independent operators.

So I have to balance my longing for them to make the right choices against the experience they get from making their own mistakes. And I often ask myself how to be sure that my efforts to discipline them are filled with the love they need and that I want to give.

The writer of the book of Hebrews in the Bible spoke wryly of this when he compared the divine chastening God sometimes gives us with that of a strict father. He said, "If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?... Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?" (Heb. 12:7, 9).

God's chastening is always firm, but is never accompanied by condemnation or anger. God is Love itself, as the Bible reminds us, and so the correction is done without making us feel worthless. Christ Jesus referred to God as "Father" in the prayer he gave his disciples - the Lord's Prayer - as we know it today. If you review that prayer (it's in Matt. 6:9-13), you'll see that it asks God's help in meeting all our needs, and having that help can make all the difference when things go wrong.

Not long ago, we received word that our teenage son had been involved in some behavior that was unacceptable at school. …

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