You should read this book if you…

Have teenagers or children that are about to be teenagers and you want to learn how to communicate with your child in a way that builds your relationship with them and encourages them to draw closer to God.

“In a nut shell”…

This book helps parents identify and deal with idols in their own life that hinder their relationship with their child and with God. Parents can then more effectively take advantage of opportunities to apply God’s word to the struggles of the teenage years and focus on the ultimate goal of parenting, helping our children have a heart for God.

Key Ideas…

  • The teenage years provide great opportunities to guide children. However, idols in the parent’s life that capture their focus keep them from taking advantage of those opportunities.
  • God’s plan suggests that children will learn the most fundamental principles of life in the context of family: how everything is connected to God, how to love one another, and how to go to Jesus for forgiveness for sin.
  • Parents need to guide their children to find their hope in Christ during the struggles of the teen years. Teenagers tend to focus on appearance, possessions and acceptance, but there is a much deeper spiritual struggle for their hearts underlying all these issues.
  • Parents need to help teenagers identify things in the culture that have a negative influence on them, guide them in applying God’s word to specific situations, and coach them in applying wisdom to challenges they face so they develop their own personal convictions.
  • The ultimate goal of parenting is for our teens to develop a deep and sincere hunger to know, love and honor God. Parents should help teenagers identify areas of needed growth before they are ready to leave home. Parents need to be in constant conversation with their child that continually leads them to repentance and hope.

Action Steps…

  • Identify the idols described that are relevant to you as a parent:  comfort, respect, appreciation, success, and control.
  • Identify how your need for these idols hinders your relationship with your child/children and apply God’s word to your situation. Go to your child and confess this to them.
  • Take the time to find out what your child is thinking about a specific struggle they are experiencing and determine how to apply God’s word to that situation.
  • Allow these four verbs to direct your interaction with your children/teenagers:
    • Accept: accept your kids, and accept in a way that leads to change when appropriate,
    • Incarnate: we are to reveal God to our children in kindness, love, patience and truth as we relate with them,
    • Identify: our children should know that we can identify with their struggles, fears, hurts and joys,
    • Enter: spend as much, if not more time, listening to your children as you do talking to them.
  • Watch for and identify the positive growth you see in your child in five key areas of maturity that you hope to see in your child before he or she leaves home:
    • Acceptance of personal responsibility,
    • Applied biblical convictions: teenager establishes and owns his own moral choices,
    • An approachable, teachable spirit,
    • Accurate self-assessment and
    • Proper perspective on things
  • Review the chart on the next page. Be aware of and talk with your teen about the described negative attitudes, the specific fruit of these attitudes and the biblical alternative:
Negative Attitude Definition Fruit Alternative
Relativism Standards are based on the situation and what each person decides, not on absolutes. Teen rebels against authority or any external correction Truth: Standards are based on the commands of scripture, not individuals.
Individualism Actions are based on my personal pleasure and happiness and desires. Teen is focused on “rights”, is selfish, complains, and lacks commitment to others Two Great Commands: Actions are based on loving God and loving others
Emotionalism

Feelings determine the right actions.

 

Teen takes action based on what feels right Biblical Faith: Truth of scripture determines the right actions
Presentism Actions are based on happiness today, lacking vision for future or delayed gratification. Teen has to have it now and displays little to no ability to wait for satisfaction Eternity: Actions are based on an eternal perspective.
Materialism Focus is on accumulation of physical goods and pleasures that can be seen. On own, teen invests in appearances, but not on character or spiritual growth Spirituality: Focus is on heart issues and relationship with God
Autonomy

Life lacks responsibility to a higher authority other than self.

 

Teen lacks consistency in lifestyle, personal restraint and submission to authority. Creaturehood: Life is guided by our Creator, under his authority, for his glory.
Victimism Actions are a result of experiences and therefore, personal responsibility is nullified. Teen is defensive, doesn’t see need to change, and blames anything but self. Sin: Actions are affected by the reality of our own personal struggles with sin within and temptation without.

Quotables…

  • “You are called to be an instrument of wisdom in your teenager’s life. To do so, you must be gentle, humble, patient, and persevering.” Pg. 126
  • “As parents, we need to be willing to search our hearts and examine our lives. We need to be willing to confess and repent of ways that our lives have contradicted our words about the most important thing in our lives. And we need to confess our sins, not with bitter feelings of defeat and failure, but with the joyful recognition that there is forgiveness and deliverance in Christ. He who forgives will also empower us to live in a new way!” Pg. 164
  • “Our job as parents is not to condemn, judge, reject or break relationship. Our job is to function as God’s instrument of change, and the most powerful tool we have is our relationship with our teenagers.” Pg 183

How this has changed my parenting…

It is has helped me identify the sin idols in my own life that needed to be addressed as my children approached the teen years.  It has helped me take the time to talk with my children about what they are thinking and struggling with and helped me to focus on the ultimate priority of parenting, that they will have a heart for God.

Book Information:
Book Title | Age of Opportunity
Author | Paul David Tripp
Year of Publication |1997
Publisher | P&R Publishing
Pages | 293
Author’s Website | www.paultrippministries.org

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