I would venture to say that most readers of this blog have children under the age of 12. I'm in that boat too. And even though there are unique challenges that come with this stage of parenting, for the most part it's a joyful time watching your children learn and grow. Some have called these years (especially around 7-11) the golden years of parenting. Dennis Rainey likens it to "a lazy boat ride down the river on a pleasant afternoon." I don't know if I'd go that far, but it is nice when your kids can finally dress and feed themselves and even have meaningful conversations with you. But we know what's coming. Adolescence - those awkward, in-between years that scare us as parents because everything starts changing. If preadolescence is a lazy boat ride on a pleasant afternoon, then adolescence is a white-water rapids on a rainy day. Paul Tripp writes,
The teen years are often cataclysmic years of conflict, struggle, and grief. They are years of new temptations, of trial and testing.
That part we understand. In fact most parents approach these years with fear and trepidation just hoping to get through it safely. But Tripp goes on to say:
Yet these very struggles, conflicts, trials, and tests are what produce such wonderful parental opportunities.
There it is. Tripp says we can view our children's adolescence as either an "age of opportunity" or a "season of survival." Instead of being scared we can be excited as we approach these important years with hope in God.
With that in mind, here are a few excellent resources for parents as they approach this age of opportunity. My advice: read these books before your child enters into this season, not during.
The Space Between by Dr. Walt Mueller - A very read-able book on the changes that happen during adolescence and how to better understand your child (and you) through these years.
Age of Opportunity by Paul Tripp - I always appreciate Tripp's focus on how God parents us as we parent our kids. This is an excellent book on seizing the opportunity God has given us during these tough years.
Parenting Today's Adolescent by Dennis and Barbara Rainey - This is a comprehensive guide for parents that explores the many traps of adolescence (like peer pressure and dating) and gives you creative ways you can talk about them with your child.
**Read this related post: When Should I Talk to My Kids About Sex?