Parenting Cats

Four teenagers.

Yep that’s right — four independence-seeking, hormonally challenged, brains-not-fully-developed teenagers. All at one time! What were we thinking?

We personally are dog people. But it was written somewhere that teenagers are like cats:

They don’t turn their heads when you call.

They never walk around with you in public.

Whatever you do for them is never enough.

And they tear up the furniture.

As parents of four cats, we often get asked how do you do it?

Honestly, it doesn’t matter how many cats you have (of any age). Parenting is hard. Really hard. And that’s why we need Jesus.

The two of us would be overwhelmed as parents without knowing that raising kids is not our job anyway. It’s God’s.

He has (for some reason) chosen to work through two broken vessels to help guide these four teenagers toward becoming well-adjusted, contributing members of society. And hopefully, beacons of light in a dark world.

There have been more than a few bumps in the road and lessons learned the hard way, a couple of which we’ve been asked to share.

Remember, you’re on THEIR side

During the daily frustrations of dealing with one or more of these little creatures, it often seems like you’re in a prize fight. You’re in one corner, and they’re in the other. Whoever blinks first loses.

Perhaps the most profound lesson the Lord taught us is something that should be obvious: Our kids are not the enemy.

So, take off the gloves and remember that you’re on their side. It’s not us [the parents] versus them [the kids]: It’s us [the family, with God’s help] versus them [the powers of darkness].

Ephesians 6:12 tells us that: “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

So next time our kids frustrate us (i.e. later today), let’s remember that we’re not battling them. We (and our kids) are battling forces of evil that want to take all of us down a selfish, destructive road.

Realizing that the enemy (Satan) is our enemy (and not our kids) also shows us how to overcome our parenting challenges. Jesus told us how. The only way to defeat the real enemy is with God’s Word.

Anytime we have been faced with teaching these four cats a moral or spiritual lesson, we always try to go to Scripture. It’s actually the easy way out.

“Why can’t I see that new movie, Mom? I know it’s about [violence, language, sexuality or any other enticing evil of Hollywood], but everyone is seeing it!”

Rather than saying “We [your out-of-touch parents] don’t think you should. . .” it’s much easier to point out that God directs them to keep their thoughts pure and focus on heavenly things (Phil 4:8).

Scripture is absolute. It teaches. It corrects. It encourages. Without Scripture, teenagers see our rules as arbitrary. With Scripture, they’re not our rules. They’re God’s rules.

Let’s remember that we are on our kids’ side in this battle, and scripture is our best weapon.

Don’t let them “act like teenagers.”

As described above, these cats certainly do have some common characteristics. But being a teenager should not be an excuse for misbehavior or laziness.

Society tells teenagers that it’s their time to rebel and do what they want before they have to “grow up” and act like adults. But when did being young become an excuse for being foolish?

The term “teenager” wasn’t even coined until the early twentieth century. Until that time period, you were a young child, and then an adult. A lot was expected of even twelve-, thirteen-, and fourteen-year-olds . . . and still should be.

Timothy was only about fifteen years old when he joined Paul’s important ministry (and was well-respected in his hometown of Lystra even before that).

Let’s not rob our children of the opportunity to be a part of God’s unfolding plan by giving them the excuse of “acting like a teenager.”