Summary: An encouragement to parents on our annual Baby Day celebration

Survivor: Surviving the Teenage Years

1. My wife and I have been foster parents and adoptive parents to nearly every age between newborn and eighteen. And I have to tell you from experience that those who have babies have the easiest job. I know, it may not seem like it now. Because we have been there and done that too. Babies are a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong. But as long as you feed them, change them, burp them, change them again, put them down for a nap, feed them again and change them again, they are pretty happy. Teenagers are a whole other story. You don’t have to change them or burp them, they pretty much do that for themselves. You have to feed them but teens eat a whole lot more. You can’t just give them a bottle of baby food anymore. I know, I’ve tried. What we used to get by for $20 to $25 for a meal eating out, now runs between $35 to $40, and sometimes more, and that’s fast food. They refuse to take a nap, unless you ask them to pick up their messes, clean their room, or do anything else that sounds like it might be work, or it’s something they don’t want to do. They do want to hang out at their friends houses and do the things that they do. They want to be entertained with the tv, video games, and loud, often obnoxious music. They like to argue because they know everything and you will never convince a teenager that the world does not revolve around them. And if you think you are losing sleep now, wait until your teenager can drive and gets home late. For those of you who have babies, right now, you are their friends. You are their whole life. In their eyes, you are awesome. You are the best people in the world. Not so when they become teenagers. They hit those ages and when they used to hold your hand and walk with you, they now, run in front or stay behind so that you can’t embarrass them. The other day I saw this book title in Ollie’s and I thought it was great; it was Not-So-Stupid Parents: Why Your Kids Think You’re Weird and How to Prove Otherwise. Being parents to teenagers is a whole other ball game.

2. Now, I want to say that all of these characteristics do not make teenagers bad kids. It just means that there will be challenges ahead for those of you who have babies now. Because your cute and adorable babies will turn into teens who will argue with you and eat you out of house and home and in a variety of ways make life interesting for you. And I just want you to be prepared. Those of you who have babies now, I want to tell you that you really do have it easy. But I don’t want you to worry. I have some survivor tips for you. How do we survive the teenage years?

3. I come to you, not as an expert, but as a practitioner. My wife and I are in the process of attempting to raise one teen, two pre-teens, and three kids who take lessons from their older sister and brothers. But how do we survive? How can we survive, especially for those of you this morning who have babies. Cute, adorable, darling babies. I want you to be prepared for what’s ahead. First, let’s turn to the Bible. Proverbs 22.6 says, "Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." If I accomplish only one thing this morning, it is to tell you as parents how important it is that you be a role model for your kids. If I accomplish anything today, it will be to help you to understand that you are the number one influence on the lives of your children, as babies and as teenagers. Over and over again, studies say that if children have positive models at home in their parents, they are less likely to carry out dangerous activities. Mom and Dad, you are critically vital to your child having a successful life. You are vital to their views on sex and drugs and alcohol. On cheating or stealing. On their beliefs about God and faith and the church. You are the number one influence for your child. The question is, "how will you use your influence? What will you do with your influence?"

4. There are two options here: either you can ignore your influence, shrug it off, or you can develop your influence at your babies’ young age and determine that from here on out, you will do the best you can to train your children as they ought to be trained. That you will determine to "direct your children onto the right path." Now I might be a little prejudiced here but it seems to me that one of these makes more sense than the other. Do you think that when my youngest three children were born in the hospital, I watched them being born and when the nurse handed them to me, I took them in my arms and said, "Well, you’re here. Now you’re on your own. I sure hope you make it." Or, that I said to them, "well, look at you. I hope you wind up doing drugs. I hope you become an alcoholic. I want you to be sexually promiscuous." You know I didn’t. I took those small babies in my arms and I said, "I want to do everything I can from here on out to take care of you, to love you, to protect you and to keep you safe." And the only way I know how to do that is to be as great an influence to my children as I possibly can. To direct my children now so that down the road, they make the absolute best choices they can. No one wants their children to go to jail, live on the streets, become a murderer or anything like that.

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