Last month, my wife and I attended some seminars by my friend Christopher Yuan. Along with his parents, Christopher shared his struggles with homosexuality, drug addiction, HIV, and Christianity. If you have never heard him speak before, do so.
One of the seminars was done by Yuan’s parents, and focused on helping parents renew their minds towards their gay children. Based on their own experience, the practical advice they shared was awesome. And what’s better, the advice shared can be applied to any parent facing challenges within parenthood.
Shift 1: I am not the cause.
This isn’t to say that parent’s get a free pass on making mistakes. We’re human, and every human makes mistakes. However, this is to say that despite the mistakes of parents, the choices made by kids is on themselves, not mom and dad. A girl addicted to drugs can blame her parents for not being around more, but she was the one who resorted to drugs in order to cope with her pain. As the Yuan’s attested, though they had their faults as parents, Christopher chose to be a drug addict and promiscuous. Even God’s first two kids rebelled against Him – and He was a perfect parent!
Parents: If wrong doing has been made on your part, you should seek repentance and forgiveness from your child. But the guilt of your child’s choices is not yours to bear. Each one of us is responsible for our choices and consequences.
Shift 2: I am not the cure
Leon Yuan shared, “In of ourselves, we can not fix or change our children.” The only One who can fix and change us is God. In Luke 15, Jesus shared three different parables about two deep truths: God’s continual pursuit of us, and “change” begins in His embrace. The lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son all found their worth and freedom within the hands of the One who never stopped looking for them.
While God may use us to steer teens through muddied areas, Christ alone is the way, the truth, and the life.
Shift 3: My kids are not my own
Using the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22, Angela Yuan shared how from the beginning God was asking her to lay her son down and trust Him with what would happen.
As a parent myself, this is a difficult paradigm shift. I want to protect my kids from all types of danger. I want them to be successful and happy, without attaining scars from bad decisions. Realistically though, I know I can’t do that. No child can successfully live within a bubble their whole life. This is where my faith and trust in God steps up into action in regards to my family. My three kids belong to God, and if I can trust Him in the dealings of my life, I need to trust Him with the future of my kids, too.
Shift 4: Love is not enabling
Good intensions are not always good. Sometimes what we think teenagers need to hear or receive from us is not what they need. Sometimes, our kids need to fail; sometimes they need to experience hard outcomes from the choices they make. The Yuan’s shared the thoughts and struggles they faced when seeing their son in court for drug dealing. Though they hated to see their son go to jail, they knew he needed to be locked up.
When God speaks about trials, He mostly phrases it like, “when you go through the fire,” or “when you experience trials.” God doesn’t move every obstacle before us so we never experience pain. Some times He allows life to happen, so that we find His goodness and presence in the midst of the pain we’re experiencing.
Shift 5: Reflect Jesus
On a continual basis, as parents, and as youth workers, we need to reflect Jesus, “through our brokenness, through our time with God, through our marriage, and through our grateful heart.” Are we reflecting Jesus or are we reflecting someone else?
What do you think about these shifts?
Beyond parenting, how can youth workers practice these shifts within their ministry?
With you and for you,
Shawn / @611pulse