This article is an excerpt from Parenting Teens Magazine
You don’t need a cape, or superhuman strength. You don’t have to fly, save the day, or take down a master villain. But in a world that looks for heroes, your teen will be looking, too. If you’re willing to fight for truth, justice, and the American way—as well as your teen’s heart—you might have what it takes.
We have a fascination with superheroes.
We are captivated by the idea of our favorite hero rushing in to save the day. We like our superheroes partly because of the assurance they provide that good will always triumph over evil. This predictability is comforting as we consider the reality of our broken world and examine our own painful experiences.
Invincible heroes are presented in stunning detail on the movie screen and on the printed page in a full array of shapes, sizes, and abilities that are perfectly suited to protect humanity. We live vicariously through our favorite hero as they invoke superhuman abilities to solve epic problems. It is thrilling to consider what it would be like to fly through the air and perform superhuman feats.
But not all superheroes wear capes.
This generation is crying for parents to rise up and be authentic heroes who inspire their children to live boldly for Jesus. We too often try to outsource heroism to the celebrities, athletes, and science fiction figures when that God-given role assignment is intended for parents.
You—yes, you—can do it
Parenting is a tremendous responsibility, and we sometimes bow under our own unrealistic expectations. We compare ourselves to those superhero parents from the movies or even those down the street. We raise the parenting bar to such an unattainable height that we feel defeated and incapable of being our teenager’s hero.
My pastoral visits with couples are increasingly marked by the same common conversational thread. Couples of all ages often say that they were raised without a healthy example of biblical parenting to emulate. They express an honest desire to be good parents but resign themselves to hopelessness out of the belief that they simply do not have what it takes. How can an ordinary parent become a “parent-hero” when their family of origin did not give them such an experience?
The questions that are really being asked are, “What accurately defines a parent-hero?” and “How do I know where to begin?”
A parent-hero has little to do with having it all together or being invincible. Real heroes are not infallible. They are simply committed. How does your definition of a hero compare against these five characteristics of parent-heroes?
1. Heroes ask for wisdom.
“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.” —James 1:5
Life can be complicated and parenting can often be challenging. That is why heroes rely on the wisdom that comes from the Lord. All parents have access to the same wellspring of wisdom that Jesus quoted to defeat Satan in the desert (Matt. 4). That is a lot of wisdom to help with any parenting dilemma.
2. Heroes are committed to their families.
“These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” —Deuteronomy 6:6-7
The power of commitment goes a long way toward hero status. Being committed means being fully present with those that matter most. It also means that the family gets priority status above all other concerns. Parent-heroes understand that they are their family’s primary faith influencers and are committed to that endeavor.
3. Heroes display courage in the face of adversity.
Parenting is not for the weak. Traditional values are out of vogue and the family is under attack. Heroes do not waver under such pressure. Heroes know that a healthy family is more important than political correctness and public trends. Sometimes that means having difficult conversations or administering appropriate discipline, but it always means having the courage to pursue God’s design for the family (Prov. 13:34; Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21).
4. Heroes embrace humility and authenticity.
Hero-parents know that they do not have it all together. They embrace their weaknesses and use them as talking points within the family. Nothing screams “hero” more than admitting a fault and asking for forgiveness. This leads to grace-based parenting that creates an atmosphere of love and affection.
5. Heroes celebrate the journey.
The parenting journey is one to be celebrated along the way. There will be mistakes, milestones, and surreal moments that are fleeting. Each step in the parenting journey is God’s way of developing us as parents as much as it is about developing our children into mature Christ-followers. The journey is for both parent and child. Heroes celebrate the relationship and give thanks to God for the incredible privilege and responsibility of parenting.
Being your teen’s hero doesn’t happen overnight. It develops in real time, over scraped knees, broken hearts, and other life situations. It is the role that parents are perfectly suited to fulfill—with God’s help.
Parents may not even remember the moments that will become so precious in the later years of their teen’s life. Those small, insignificant investments of time will often be the very moments that children will draw from to bestow hero status on their parents. Be present. Be willing. Be committed.
We all want a hero to inspire us in life. The good news is that God has provided the consummate Hero for humanity in Jesus Christ and He has promised to help us build strong families. Our family of origin is influential but it is not the ultimate predictor of our parenting success. It has been stated that we are all a product of our past, but none of us have to be a prisoner to our past. We all have to choose to follow Jesus and become heroes to our families.
The reality is that teens will choose a hero if one is not readily available. A quick survey of pop culture options reveals a moral wasteland of twerking, sexting, and degradation. Authentic heroes are in short supply. The world desperately needs committed parents to engage with their children and follow the biblical blueprint for raising strong families. A hero parent raises children that can follow their reliable example of obeying and worshipping God. There are no special requirements to get started. It begins with a choice. Why not choose to be your teen’s hero?
Ryan Mason serves as Minister of Education at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas and loves to write about real life issues and help others apply biblical truths to daily living. He is married to Kilie and they are blessed with two amazing children. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter @ryankmason.