You may or may not have noticed, but your teen is growing up. And probably much faster than you would like. I feel like every day with 17-year old Ben is flying by at the speed of sound. As we spend time talking about his future goals, I have one major one in mind — that he is able to maintain a close relationship with Jesus and can defend his faith in all situations.
Whether your teen is off to college, joining the military, learning a trade, or traveling the world, he is sure to bump up against situations in his young adulthood that will challenge his faith. Soon your teen will be figuring out who he is apart from you, working out his own salvation, and undoubtedly will have his faith tested in many areas. How is your teen’s faith going to stand the test of all those new experiences?
As parents, it is our responsibility to prepare our teens for adulting. While they will always be “our babies,” and we will always be parenting in one way or another, it should be our goal to work ourselves out of our primary job today — the job of raising adults who love God and love their neighbors. And while we will always wonder how their faith is going to be tested, and pray that they stay strong, ultimately, it will be up to them how they live out their adult lives. However, we must prepare them now for the unknowns. Thankfully, there are many helpful things you can do now to help prepare your child’s faith for adulthood.
Teach your child the true meaning of a biblical worldview
It isn’t enough to say you’re a Christian and go to church. If your child is not applying Scripture to all areas of his life, then he likely doesn’t completely understand what it means to have a truly biblical worldview. You can help cultivate a biblical worldview in your child with these steps. This is the most important step in ensuring a strong faith walk into adulthood for your child.
Share Your Faith Alongside Your Child
There’s nothing better than for your child to see your faith in action as you share it within view of your child. Be passionate about it, and don’t be afraid to have open discussions about your faith with those you come into contact with, and with your family. Take advantages of opportunities and share resources with your child. Be certain to talk to them about what God is teaching you in His Word and how your life is changing and growing. The more you are grounded in your faith and have a willingness to share it openly, the more your child will become more confident in their own walk of faith. Always be conscientious about leading by example.
Have an Open and Honest Discussion
You need to be able to lay everything out on the table for your child in an honest and sincere way. Let him know that as he becomes an adult, just like as a teen, the opportunity to sin is going to be around him daily. When tempted by the sins of premarital sex, drugs, or alcohol, for example, teach him how to put on the armor of God daily according to Ephesians 6, and to pray for strength to bypass it all. Be sure you are educating him honestly about the dangers of these things as well.
Let him know that he will be surrounded by skeptics about his faith, especially in most colleges. Challenge him to also lead by example. Encourage him to live a life as salt and light for others to see Christ’s love through him. Let him know he doesn’t have to be afraid, as he has the power and love of Christ flowing through him.
Encourage Your Teen to Keep a Bible Journal
There are many fabulous devotional books and study guides that are geared for young adults. I would personally recommend a Bible devotion guide that is part journal, so your teen can write down his thoughts and reflections about what they’re reading and learning. Writing is so cathartic, even if not done daily. Having a journal of his thoughts and the lessons God is teaching him through His Word will be an invaluable tool for encouragement when things get hard, as they invariably will.
I would also suggest purchasing a blank journal and to fill each page with a Scripture for them as a gift for high school graduation.
Encourage Your Child in His Relationships with Other Christians
As a teen or an adult, an important aspect of a walk with Christ is surrounding ourselves with like-minded believers. Children don’t always understand the importance and significance of this and are often open to friendships with many different people, some of who may not be believers. While this mindset is helpful for gospel-minded teens and adults, we must teach our children how to be careful about who is allowed to influence them most. Encourage your child to keep his closest friends to those who are Christians. Having a core group of friends who can support and encourage him in his walk with Christ will be invaluable well into adulthood.
For Your College-Bound Students
Help your college student with realizations and expectations
For your college-bound students, have a discussion with them about how God is calling them to be a student, and that it’s going to be up to them to help protect class and study time. Once you know your child’s schedule, help them develop a daily plan that will help keep them organized. Be sure to include times for study, mental breaks, and bible study. Helping them to block out different times of the day for specific actions will help keep them organized and on a steadfast track of faith.
Help your college student find a church
If your student will be leaving home for college, do a search for a church near their college campus or new home. Visit various websites with them to see if there is a church close by that they can relate to and attend. Pray together about their new church home — that it will be a Bible-believing church with a ministry they can connect with.
Besides searching Google, you can also use Find A Church. It’ll find all surrounding churches and their addresses for you. You can then make calls together to find out what type of ministry programs they have, and if it’s going to be a good fit for your child.
Help your student get plugged in to College Ministries
Most college campuses have religious centers and ministry opportunities available for students. This can become a great source for finding other like-minded faith-based students and will help solidify a greater faith by having others to pray, serve, and study God’s Word with. Seek out these ministries when doing college visits while your child is still in high school.
Your child is not going to know everything. We, as adults, don’t know it all either. However, let your child know that it’s okay if he doesn’t have all of the answers that people might ask of him. Let him know that if he desires to serve and glorify God in every part of his life—his faith will not only survive college and adulthood, it will flourish. It will take intentional work on his part. And please let him know you are always there to back him up, answer questions, bounce ideas off of, and love him through the mistakes he will inevitably make.