“Without good direction, people lose their way;
the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” Proverbs 11:14
My pastor recently talked about the importance of having good relationships. At one point he said something to the effect of, “The devil puts people into your life just to destroy you.” Those are pretty harsh words, but I’ll bet you can think of one or two people you’ve crossed paths with in your life that would fit that bill.
As a parent, one of the best things we can do for our kids is to help them have good, healthy relationships. So often, we can see far ahead of them, that a person in their life is doing them no good at all. It could be a dating relationship, a friendship, or even a casual acquaintance. When we see these things happening, we set boundaries, forbid relationships, and we argue our position ad nauseum. If your kid is a teenager, you may find you are fighting a losing battle on that front. You will often find, the harder you speak out against a destructive relationship, the harder they will fight for it. So what’s a parent to do?
You need reinforcements.
So where do those reinforcements come from?
For us, they have come from lots of different places. My oldest son had a guitar teacher once named Dan that he thought was so cool. He still does. Dan was about twenty-five and was a worship leader at a local church. He poured great stuff into my son. I didn’t care if Landon ever learned to play the guitar. Dan was telling Landon the same things his dad and I were telling him, only cooler. And Landon listened.
This last week, I attended a meeting at my church concerning an internship my two middle kids will be a part of. During that meeting, I was introduced to eight college kids that are a part of Highlands College at Church of the Highlands. These students will be pouring into my kids this next semester. All of these kids are in their early twenties and have decided to give their lives to the possibility of full time ministry… starting with mentoring my kids. I wanted to hug and kiss them all.
So if you’re having some troubles on the relationship front with your kids, or even if you’re not, here’s a suggestion. Find them a mentor. Pay them if you have to in order to get them to spend time with your kid.
I’m about to get really practical here.
This person should be just a few years older than your kid. Old enough that they have figured a few things out, but no so old that they appear out of touch to your kid. Twenty-five or younger if possible. For Christian parents, you are going to want this person to be a strong believer and Christ follower… but they need to be cool. I cannot stress this enough.
Where can you find such a person? Well, what’s your kid into? Landon wanted to play guitar. It took us a while to get a lesson slot with Dan, but the wait was well worth it. Whatever it is that your kid has an interest in, find that mentor. And it’s never too early to start, either. My youngest son (11) is taking drum lessons from Park who plays drums at his church and who just entered Highlands College. I tell you what, those loud lessons are so worth it! It’s those conversations before and after the lesson with Park that really matter.
As much as my kids are still willing to listen to Matthew and me (for this I am grateful), I know they are seeking counsel from other places. I want to make sure those outside influences are good ones.
I remember about a year ago, there was a young man who was showing quite a bit of interest in my fourteen-year-old daughter. It was getting a bit out of hand. I had tried talking to her, but I could tell she was a bit obsessed with his interest in her. Then one night, one of her mentors (a college student named Abby), brought her home from church. Laura told me she had talked to Abby about this boy on the ride to our house. I asked her what Abby had said.
She told me that Abby told her that she was a prize, and that she was worth far more than what this boy was offering her. And that was it. She was done with him. All it took was a chat from a cool mentor. Abby didn’t say anything I hadn’t said. She just said it …cooler. And my daughter heard her. Abby was my hero.
So if the devil is going to try to put people into our kid’s lives to bring them down, we have to stack the deck against him. And it’s never too early or too late to get started. Don’t fight this battle harder. (Or louder) Rather, fight it smarter. Our kids are worth it.