Embrace the Awkward in Discipling Your Child
None of us like being in awkward situations. It is a big fear we have because it makes us uncomfortable and no one likes discomfort. It’s especially hard to be uncomfortable with people we’re naturally comfortable with like our spouse or kids. If we’re the ones causing that discomfort then it’s even worse.
I think when many parents think about being the primary disciplers of their kids, they fear awkwardness. Even though they are in charge, they fear that uncomfortable situation. This is especially true for parents of teens. If you haven’t been discipling as your child has been growing up then it will probably feel awkward for both you and your teen. The first step is that you must embrace the awkward. Accept it will be awkward at first and be willing to power through.
I lead a small group of middle and high school boys every week at church on Sunday morning. I have such a great time with them. We laugh, talk about movies, sports, and a host of other things. However, when I bring up Jesus, their faith, and spiritual things it tends to get uncomfortably silent at times. It gets awkward. There are times when I am even just glad we got through and that it’s over. But there are also weeks where it’s really good and I’m shocked how much they engaged with the questions. Those are the times that make the awkward times worth powering through.
None of us arrived at where we are currently in our walk with God overnight. It’s a journey. We’ve had ups, downs, struggles, and mountain top experiences. It’s been a slow, consistent plodding with the Spirit carrying us along that has brought us to where we are today. This will be true of our teens as well. It could start rough. They could give you the silent treatment. They may just listen—but rest assured they ARE listening to what you say. You must embrace the awkward. Think of it as the starting point and not the destination.
If you truly want to be the primary discipler of your child then you’ve got to plow through this stage because the key is to begin. Start talking to them about God, faith, and how those things fit into their lives. Start asking them to read a chapter in the Bible with you. Start asking them to read a book involving spiritual things with you. Start asking them how you can be praying for them. Start asking them questions about how faith fits into their lives. You’ve got to start and the start could and probably will be awkward.
But you’ve also got to commit. If you’re going to embrace the awkward then you must commit to keep going. Don’t start and quit. Resolve to keep going. Resolve to push through. Do what it takes to get past it. Starting and giving up will confuse your child and might feel strange to them. Find another parent in your church and commit to be a support for each other when you want to throw in the towel. Partner with your spouse and encourage each other as you seek to disciple your children. Find support, do it together, and commit.
Finally, make sure you’re praying along the way. It might seem obvious, but it’s worth saying. Pray, pray, pray that the Spirit would be at work in you and the heart of your child. Pray He’d give you the resolve to keep going. Pray for strength in the awkward situations. Pray for your child’s heart. Pray that if your child isn’t a Christian, that the Spirit would begin drawing them to Jesus. Just like I said last week, you can’t save your child. But what joy would it be that God would use you in the process! How awesome to have a role in the salvation of your child! Pray for faithfulness and that the Spirit would help you be consistent. Pray for perseverance.
When it comes to discipling your teens, I promise that it’s never too late to start. Even if you have a year left before they head to college, a big impact can be made in a year! You can’t worry about their pushback. Be consistent and embrace the awkward!
Next week we’ll start talking through some practical steps to take.
If you missed the first post in this series, you can read it here.