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Just Wait Until They Are Teenagers

Jeff:
So today’s topic is a fun one, interesting one. This is a phrase a lot of people say, right?

Jeremy:
Yeah.

Jeff:
This one actually annoys me with toddlers, and then you probably even get it right now having people this age in the home, and also out of the home, and that’s that phrase where people say, they’re almost trying to pull you down, usually, when something’s going good, then they usually say, “Oh, just wait until they’re teenagers.” Or just to wait until they’re this. First of all, don’t ever say that. Don’t be that person that says that in public. That’s just like, why say that? And second of all, this comes specifically from Alex Kaufman, who mentions that phrase said, “Just wait until they’re teenagers, I hear this all the time and refuse to accept that struggle as an evitable, please talk about how this doesn’t need to be inevitable strategy, approach, expectation, et cetera.”

Now you guys have walked through this. So what would you say to that real quick? That phrase, did you hear that? How do you make sure you mitigate against that? Because I know for us, when I hear that it is hard because you don’t feel like you have a bunch of ammo in the gun when you’re a toddler parent of like, well, no, they’re not going to be like that, but I don’t know. You know what I mean? You want to be humble about it. But I feel like it’s a really bad narrative that almost self-fulfills.

Jeremy:
That’s right.

Jeff:
If you do believe that, then it probably was showing when they were actually tweens and toddlers, there’s like this weird narrative, oh these are the good years, those won’t be. Stuff like that. So how do you guys navigate that?

Jeremy:
Yeah. I mean, I could not wait for my kids to become teenagers. And so I was like, yeah, I want my kids, I love that stage. The reason that we have such a problem with this you guys, is that we have designed a culture that sets up kids for failure at their most vulnerable point in their development. And so there is a predictable problem.

Alex is asking for specific strategies. There’s a couple that are very costly, Alex, but I knew that as we were creeping up to these ages, it was critical. So my first strategy that I tell every family is when your kids are 12 to 15 years old, they are super vulnerable. We sent our kids out to public school in kindergarten to fifth grade. And we have kids going to different schools and different things, like right now, Kira is in fifth grade, she’s at school. Sydney’s in 10th grade, she’s at school. I was extremely careful with our kids from 12 to 15.

Jeff:
When you did that. How you did that.

Jeremy:
Like that middle school age, it is so easy to lose your kids. And it’s getting worse with the way that especially, if you go along with getting your kids a phone, getting your kids in social media, putting your kids into a system, I know that’s super hard on more families.

Jeff:
Then you have the sports pressure and extracurricular pressures.

Jeremy:
Man it is not a fair fight. I just determined your kids are too vulnerable. There’s too many pressures. You have to create a strategy so that when your kids are in that stage, two things happen. One is you keep your kid’s heart all the way through those ages of 12 to 15. You’re constantly meeting your kids, hanging out with your kids and you’re crafting an environment for them in which they will, everything’s sort bent towards the family and not towards the peers. If you do those two things, you’ll get through that age of 15. And a lot of people are like, “No, I want my kids to be a missionary when they’re 12 or 13.”

Jeff:
Oh, I was just going to talk about that.

Jeremy:
Same amount as missionaries when they’re 16 or 17, when you got their hearts and when it’s a fair fight. But yeah, what were you going to say about that?

Jeff:
That’s what I was going to say, I was going to say the tangent of that is that there’s this weird belief sometimes in Christian culture of like, I want my kids to be a light in the school and all that stuff, and that’s fine. That’s a good desire, but you also have to put it in context of what you’re doing. You are forming and discipling your child into adulthood to be arrows that go out and reap fruit for 50, 60 years. So two years is, you can wait two more years, that’s what I’m trying to say, because the context of how fruit works, how multiplication works, how discipleship works.

It’s like, no one would say like, “Oh, I want my kid to go help people and heal people.” Meaning you know that you want them to be a doctor, but then, they take one biology, one Oh one class, and then you say, “Go be a doctor.” It’s like, no, you have to finish school. You have to literally finish the training program. There is a training program for parents to kids in regards to discipleship, formation, their hearts, their minds, training discipleship before you send them out.

Now, of course, this doesn’t mean sheltering. This doesn’t mean being insular. This just means that there’s a different relationship in that phase. And we usually conflate those phases or run over that phase or leapfrog that phase and it just kills our kid. But it’s like, no, keep that phase the phase, let your kids go be a light. Maybe it will be 13, maybe it will be 16, maybe it will be 20, depending on your kid’s demeanor, your home, where you live, et cetera. But you have to be sensitive to that’s what you’re doing. My job is to train and then deploy. And a lot of us deploy way too early. A lot of times we’re afraid we’re going to look like a homeschool family or this family or that family, even if we send our kids to school, but just like that metaphor. And so, yeah, I just think that’s a huge one of just being okay with calling it a phase, like I am training and discipling to deploy later.

Jeremy:
Yeah. What was really helpful for me in terms of a concept for this is know when your kid is a missionary and when your kid is the mission field. And so there are exceptions to this guys, there are some 13 year olds who are absolutely on fire for Jesus and you send them out and they’re amazing missionaries. And if you’ve got one of those and you want to deploy them at 13, that’s great. But don’t use that narrative to compensate for a child who clearly is struggling and needs to be around their family, be with their parents, be with their dad during a very vulnerable part of their development.

And so if your child is the mission field in their most vulnerable years and you send them out and they switch teams and become obsessed with sort of what’s going on within sort of that peer culture and you lose your kids and then of course, if people use this phrase, just wait until they’re teenagers, then I get it. Then it’s a self fulfilling prophecy at that point. That is absolutely not necessary. And so you have to be really thoughtful about it, particularly that phase. You want to have kids that are strong in the Lord, that are deeply rooted in their family and when they’re 16, 17, 18, they are ready for the mission field. They’re ready to go out and really be on mission with your family. But don’t expose your kids or have too high expectations for them.

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