What does a machete have to do with parenting?

Dear Parents,

As you wonder about the title, your brain may possibly go down an unhealthy path.  If that’s you, I encourage you to pause and and read.

Parenting a teenager is hard.  It is also very rewarding when you take the time to set a path for your family to travel.

During my years as a youth pastor in Michigan, I took my students backpacking in various locations.  One of my favorite locations was North Manitou Island.  We were 12 miles out in Lake Michigan, isolated and alone.  On one of these trips, I got the group “lost”.  How lost can you possibly become on an island?  We never were really lost, we simply had gotten off the path that was taking us to our next camping location.  We eventually set up camp and made dinner, but our walk wasn’t always pleasant.  We didn’t have a clear path.  We had to dodge branches.  We had to look for poison ivy.  We needed to constantly be aware of our surroundings and our direction.  I remember a number of kids ending that trip with poison ivy breakouts because of that day of hiking.  Is it possible the group would have encountered poison ivy along the path, but certainly less likely.

Friends, this is an example of what a machete has to do with parenting?  It is our job to set the path for our teenagers.  It is our job, the best that we are able, to beat down the branches and poison ivy that will cause harm to our children.  We owe it to our children to set a path that is clear for them to walk on while they learn how to process and make decisions.

Parent, you are the greatest spiritual influence your child has.  The influence next on the list is so far behind, it’s not even a fair debate.  YOU ARE THE GREATEST SPIRITUAL INFLUENCE.  Stay the course! Use your machete with a foundation of Scripture and the discernment of the Holy Spirit.  If you don’t feel adequately equipped to make Godly decisions for your family, I would like to help you learn to do just that.

Here are some scriptures and 3 ways you can blaze a spiritual path for your teenager:

Psalm 145:4 – “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.”

  1. Close the old trails – You might have had a trail marked out for you by your parents that led to lots of pain. You don’t have to continue that path. You can close that trail and mark a new one for your teenager to follow.
  2. Mark the trail in word and deed – Far too often we try to make a spiritual impact on our teenager through words alone. Consider adding actions to your words. This has a multiplying effect on the integrity and influence you have with your teenager.
  3. Don’t force it – You can mark a beautiful path for them to follow. You can make the entrance clear. You can shine a light on it showing them where to go. But you can’t make them follow the path. That is ultimately their choice. You can’t control their faith decisions, you can only guide them.
  4. Check out a Rites of Passage Experience – It is another simple and powerful way that you and I can work together to blaze a trail and help you pass down your faith to your teenager.

As always, please send me an email with any questions or thoughts you may have.

Your partner in discipleship,