Updated: Dec 2, 2022
Lately I have been reflecting on this topic. We encourage our teenager to have a good role model or be a good role model. Role models can be anything in the form of a good mentor to a friend whose advice you value, anyone whom you respect and admire. The main characteristic of a good role model would be their integrity, walking the talk so to speak, along with some other evident good values and behaviours in the lives (fruits don't lie).
Well, I realised that our teenager is better off having good role models in his parents than in anyone else (it starts at home, Jerusalem). He wouldn’t know what to look for, if he didn’t already have it in his life. You don’t know what you don’t know. The responsibility is on us to portray the integrity we speak highly of in Christ Jesus, who is our one and only role model.
Kids desperately need good role models in their parents. Parents can meet all their basic needs, provide food, clothing and shelter. Even give them everything they didn’t have growing up. But its not their primary role and responsibility. Nurturing their relationship with Jesus is. But to do that, they need to be in a relationship in Jesus, right? You can’t sell something you haven’t tried yourself. (I'm a Christian and I'm advocating for Him - so you might give up reading at this point, I hope not).
The biggest misconception is that giving them everything you worked so hard for will guarantee a future of happiness, or that they will do everything you expect of them. No, why would you think that? They grew up entitled because that’s your job to provide, and theirs is to live life. Their way, on their terms. The problem is that if you don't lead by example, then you're hypocritical in a way.
When I was growing up, there was no deviation from the plan set by my parents. Work hard in school, go to university and get a good job. We didn’t realise that we needed to behave a certain way or develop a certain mindset to achieve those things. We grew up in a shame or honour culture. If you didn’t do anything of these things, you brought shame to the family. All their hard work was wasted. The preferred outcome is honour. And it stuck with me for a long time.
It took sometime to be delivered from that type of parenting. For our son, we want him to explore opportunities, to develop a godly mindset and to serve God with his time, talents and gifts. We have to role model those behaviours for him and lead by example. Its never too late to start. God gives grace.
It's one of the reasons why we live a completely sober lifestyle now. We moved away from an alcohol drinking culture because it didn’t serve my family well, thank God we did. We quickly realised that it is learned behaviour, a vicious cycle that ended with us. A stronghold defeated!
As parents, without God, we would be taking risks and losing our peace, it's a job that requires divine wisdom and guidance. And the impossible is only possible with God. We wouldn't be where we are if it wasn't for Him, so we can only testify to our ability to role model behaviour that will empower our teenager, comes from above.
I’m sharing this intimate piece to highlight that a lot of children are feeling lost right now. Searching for answers in all the wrong places, following celebrities or people who don’t know them, wanting to belong, doing despicable things to fit in, desperate to be accepted and loved for who they are. Not for who they can be or should be. I read somewhere that the worst thing in life is unfulfilled potential but it can stem from parents who had unfulfilled responsibilities.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”
Colossians 3:21 NKJV