Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp
Reviewed by Eric Landstrom
Dr. Tripp writes as his central thesis that God's goal for parenting is for the parents to work themselves out of a job. He argues that as children grow older they will assume more and more responsibility and it is the job of the parent to minister to the child to prepare them for this responsibility.
Teenagers are credited with having biological impulses which rules their lives. It is thought that they are not in control of their lives, but that their bodies are. Tripp argues that "there is a battle raging in the lives of young people, but it is not the battle of biology" (Tripp, p. 16). Instead the author presents the thought that at each stage of life people are tempted by sin. In this, it is suggested, parents should seek to first confess their own sin and share their own life experiences with their teens developing a pool of common ground with their children. The author states this will result in a marked difference in the parent's relationship with their teen and how they view the struggles of the teen years and how the teen will view the role of the parent.
A basic premise of this book is that the teen years shouldn't be looked upon as an unproductive period in your children's life, but rather, as a time for unprecedented opportunity to minister, and rightly conceived, the golden age of parenting. As with good pastoring, in good parenting, sin and adversity shouldn't be looked at as necessarily obstacles, but as God-ordained opportunities to minister through the love that a parent has for their child. Therefore the author lays out that it is the family that is God's primary vehicle for teaching and developing a godly heart and character. The central idea being, that within a family, every moment is God's moment and can be uses in some form of ministery. It is a time to reflect that there is always a higher agenda and a greater purpose in life than perceived immediate wants and needs. Through the family, both the parent and the teenager can learn together that God is not distant, but very much involved in their life and activity.
The author spends time discussing the idols of teenagers as well as the parents that often cloud the judgement of both. In turn, the author looks at each one, offering pragmatic advice through example and illustrations for parents and teenagers so that productive ministry can occur.
Looking back into my past, I believe the author does well in expressing the teenagers need of Christ and their vantage point of living in a fallen world. The author stresses that in successful parenting, the parents will be aware of their teenagers perspective and outlook of life ministering to their children where they are at and always guiding them to where they should be with compassion, humility, and love. Failures to do this are even more opportunities for ministry by confessing them on both sides and by learning from them.
Throughout the book, the author offers a great perspective not only for raising godly children, but also for ministering to anybody who reads the book. This is because, to one degree or another, you could swap out the word "teenager" and insert your own name in many instances.
In summary, the basic message of the book
is that teenagers are emerging adults and face many of the same
temptations and emotional issues that adults take for granted
and tend to forget. It emphasizes that the parents goal is to
"work themselves out of the job of parenting" by modeling
a godly heart and instilling a heart for God in their teenager
by living out the Christian faith. The book offers good insight
for both teenagers and parents on how to work together and glorify
God. Overall this is a good book, and one I would heartily recommend
for any parent.
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