This past weekend, I had the privilege of leading a workshop on teaching preteens and teens about helping them to say YES to God’s plan for dating, marriage, and sex! I know, God’s crazy sense of humor in that… 🙂
As we’re discussing setting rules for teens, we shared a lot of stories from our own teen years. Three distinct stories stood out to me:
- One attendee shared that his parents set strict rules, very strict boundaries without explaining them to him. He had questions upon questions.
- Another attendee shared that while she was given distinct boundaries, her parents never brought God into the equation. They were rules for rule-sake, and she still rebelled.
- Another attendee broke out in tears as her friend next to her shared the hurt she was recounting as she thinks about lack of boundaries she had growing up. She had many, many regrets of the mistakes she had made simply because there were no boundaries in her life.
All of these stories made my heart hurt and yet rejoice in God’s amazing grace. Yes, I believe without a doubt in my mind that kids and teens need boundaries at every age. However, we also need to explain to them why these boundaries exist. Boundaries without why’s only lead to confusion, questions, and even rebellion. No boundaries lead to lack of discernment and sometimes even conscience to do what’s right. We give kids and teens boundaries because we love them. We gives kids and teens boundaries because we want to protect them. We give kids and teens boundaries because we want to help them make good decisions. We give kids and teens boundaries because we want to equip and develop them to be responsible, God-loving, God-fearing, and wise adults. Boundaries are needed… but they cannot be given without the why’s… and the biggest and the most important why is because of our relationship with Jesus. We make our life-choices based on God’s leading because of our relationship with Him.
What’s also beautiful about these stories is that regardless of the questions, confusions, rebellion, and mistakes, God redeemed all these beautiful people. I don’t even know their names… but their faces are super clear in my mind. I just remember thinking–wow, they’re here! They’re at a Christian Conference, and they’re sitting in a workshop that talks about helping teens commit to Jesus Christ and making life choices that reflects growing relationship with Jesus! What a beautiful picture of redemption! God is so cool like that! God uses our past experiences and even hurts to help others… and these faces were so beautiful to me!
Set boundaries for kids and teens but explain why! And regardless of what decision kids make, know that God can redeem even the worst questions, confusions, rebellion, and mistakes.