Because your junior-high
child can grasp abstract concepts, he now can learn deep spiritual
truths. He can begin to grasp the concept of the Trinity. He can
have a much deeper understanding than ever before of what
salvation means. The concepts of redemption, the sinful nature,
and how Jesus bore our sins on the cross are all much clearer to
him now. It would be wise to discuss these subjects with your
child to see how much he understands. You can help him a great
deal by clarifying certain things about which he may be confused.
Your child can have a much
better understanding of what the body of Christ is all about. He
can know what spiritual gifts are, though he may have difficulty
identifying his own. If he has committed himself to Christ, he
should be able to become a member of your church. He can
understand the meaning of Communion, and after instruction he
should be allowed to partake. His participation in church depends
a great deal on your own involvement. If you are involved, he will
be also; if not, he probably won't be either.
Your child will probably
want to be involved in church. If he is a member, he will want to
think he is a vital part of the body. He has the capacity to serve
others. He wants and needs guided opportunities in leadership.
Remember that your child is one of the church's future leaders.
Active participation in a well-planned youth program will help
develop his leadership skills.
Your child is now developing
Christian values of his own. He is seeking answers to many
questions he has about morals, ethics, and spirituality. He is
beginning to question your values, and he may openly reject some
them. Deep inside he wants to do what is right and submit to God's
authority, but he is searching for answers he can call his own. He
will particularly question absolute guidelines imposed by his
parents and church. He is very perceptive and quickly identifies
hypocrisy and double standards.
This questioning and
searching period is difficult for many Christian parents to face.
You may see your child swaying in his faith. Feeling protective,
you may argue with him and try to force on him what you believe is
right. This may only drive him further away from you.
Your best approach is to
encourage him to discuss his questions with you. Be open with
him-express your feelings and beliefs, but allow him to disagree.
Take the risk of treating him as an equal. Do not belittle him or
think you must put him in his place. Realize that his searching
and questioning approach is a healthy way to come to terms with
spiritual matters on his own. In the end, he will be a much better
Christian for it.
Your teenager's experience
and ability to do more sophisticated thinking enable her to think
in deeper and more serious terms about spiritual things. She is
still searching for her own answers about life and her
relationship to God. She may develop a special interest in some
rather complicated theological issues. If this happens, you can
help her a great deal by encouraging her spiritual interests.
Discuss her questions with her. Give her your insights and
opinions, but avoid arguing. You can challenge her thoughts, but
show respect for her opinions too.
If your child has been
involved in church up to this point, she may have a growing
interest in being a vital part of the church. She thinks she is
grown up and appreciates being treated that way. She is
willing to take on more responsibility and, if encouraged,
she will appreciate opportunities to serve and lead. A wise will
do all it can to present older teens with such meaningful
There are also many fine
opportunities for Christian service available to older teens
through service-oriented organizations like Teen Missions. Other
missionary organizations and camps offer short-term service
opportunities. You will do well to encourage your child to get
involved in such programs.
Obviously, not all children
are interested in church activities. In her search for herself,
your child may rebel against her parents and the church she grew
up in. If your child has rejected you or the church, it is
important that you seek to maintain an understanding relationship
with her. This is vital.