is worth the effort if it helps a child know
the love of God and His care through the
love and support of a parent who understands a child’s growing emotional needs.
TOS: What did you and Clay feel was one
of the more important things you did to
help your teens become adults?
SALLY: We trusted them. We loved and
stayed close to them by seeking to make our
home the most fun and supportive place
where they could be. Loving, supportive
relationships are always the most effective
way to influence anyone. Seeking to understand the heart of our teens through prayers
and pondering helped us be more patient
with their hormonal outbursts and to understand the limitations of this season of life!
As they were older, Clay stayed up each
night until they came in, just to have
closure to their nights.
I don’t want to insinuate that our children
were perfect or had it all figured out—but
we stayed close to them each step of the way.
We tried to avoid parenting by guilt, but we
upheld our essential standards (morality,
loving the Lord, respecting us, monitoring
their activities). We had ups and downs
during these years, but keeping the relationships close and cherished was essential.
TOS: In retrospect, what activities do you
feel were not that helpful?
SALLY: Anything that separated a teen
from the family emotionally, spiritually, or
in morals or values. If a class, youth group,
or sports activity placed a teen in a situation where he or she found he or she was
unique and didn’t have a companion who
shared his or her ideals, this was always a
bad place to be. When a teen or even an
adult is put into peer situations where there
is no support or validation, the temptation
to compromise his or her values becomes
stronger. Ecclesiastes tells us that two are
better than one, and woe to the one who
has no one to lift him up; so it goes with
teens—they need a support companion or
friend who can validate them instead of
separating them from the crowd.
TOS: It seems difficult sometimes to meet
educational needs and spend enough time
teaching them God’s Word and how to apply
it to life. How can we find a balance between
preparing our children to be God-honoring
people and getting them well educated?
SALLY: I do think it is so important to
remember that in the high school years,
education is only a small part of what will
make up the whole life of our child. What
he or she needs most during these years are
our fellowship, encouragement, life-giving
words, and unconditional love. Our children also need to see us live a life of love,
worship, and integrity before the Lord. The
educational ideals that we held high for our
children were primarily taught during their
earlier years. High school is not just about
academics—it is about discipleship and
helping our children to own their convictions and to love God.
Sally Clarkson is the mother of four wholehearted children, a conference speaker, and
author of numerous books, including The
Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of
Motherhood, and Seasons of a Mother’s
Heart. In 1994, Sally and her husband
Clay started Whole Heart Ministries to
encourage and equip Christian parents
through books, workshops, seminars, and a
ministry website. Since 1998, Sally has
ministered to thousands of mothers through
her WholeHearted Mother Conferences
and online ministries. The Clarksons have
homeschooled all of their children.