Turning Your Heart Back to Your Teen
As our kids become teenagers in today’s society, there is no doubt that our lives become busier on every level. The busyness impacts everyone in the family. For dad, it hits with bigger bills, more financial stress, more work responsibilities, and a more demanding schedule (especially for commuters). For moms, it is a more demanding home life, more schedule demands with the kids, busier school life, etc. For the kids, it is music lessons, sports practices, games, orthodontist appointments, science projects, and youth activities. And this is the short list!
The results of all of this can be devastating for a family who allows the schedule to “take over.” It is not exactly a hostile takeover—it is more like a gradual infiltration. Little by little our “together time” gets overrun by other important and entertaining things. The terrible results of this lost time usually takes months and sometimes years to see. Eventually, the whole family is stressed, fragmented, distant, and depleted. We even start to feel like we just “don’t get a long.” Many families just chalk this up as “normal.” It is what happens when our kids become teenagers.
Friend, nothing could be farther from the truth. This is not a teen thing. This is a father thing, and it can be overcome! Your kids need you, Dad—real bad! They were created with a need for time with you—“father time.”
It seems that the most critical battle of my ministry to families has become getting fathers to spend time with their teenagers. Nearly every appointment I have had with a father in the past ten years starts out talking about a struggling teenager—a son that is rebellious or a daughter that is distant. Without fail, eventually the father says something like this—“I haven’t been able to spend much time with him since he became a teenager” or “she’s closer to her mother than she is to me…” The reasons for the problem always seem so powerful and compelling.
Dad, you are essential to your teenager’s spiritual and emotional well-being. I fully understand the pressure of making the business successful, keeping the boss happy, and keeping food on the table, but if we are neglecting our kids in the process-—we are dishonoring the Lord. This is counter-productive since He is the One who promises to meet our needs in the first place. We work hard to make ends meet, to cover our bases, and to provide a better life, and as we do—we dishonor God by neglecting our children, which ultimately means the ends do not meet, bases are not covered, and life is not better.
Look at Luke 1:17 as it speaks of John the Baptist, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children…” The word turn in this verse means to revert or to turn about—implying that the father’s heart is turned away from the children. The word hearts refers to the thoughts and feelings. In other words, it was a part of John the Baptist’s mission to turn the thoughts and feelings of fathers back to the needs of their children.
I believe this single truth speaks volumes to us dads! It shows God’s priority on “father time.” It shows that your kids need time with you, and that God intends for you to spend time with them.
So, how is the “father time” in your family? Are you working too much? Are you sitting in front of the TV more than in front of your teenager? Are you absorbed in other things to the detriment of your family? Nothing can replace the value of time spent with you. A Christian school, a church, a youth group—these things are wonderful gifts from God, but none of them can be what you can be!
Dad—please understand, this happens to all of us, but we must consciously choose to resist the trend and take a different path. Like breathing, sleeping, and eating—time with your children must be non-negotiable. Everything else in life should line up behind your God and your family. This is a weekly discipline—not monthly or annually. Every week, your teenager needs specific, focused time with you alone. It is not about spending money or finding entertainment. It is about being together—talking, connecting, and relating.
To put it as powerfully as I can—I do not know of a problem that a teenager faces that cannot be fixed with the right amount and the right kind of “father time.” You are the key in every way to your teenager’s spiritual and emotional stability and maturity. Perhaps the scariest thing is this—we are all running out of time. They will not be teenagers for long. In just a few years, you will have all the time you need to work more, commute longer, and watch the news. For right now, give your kids what they need most—“father time!”