How To Be An On Purpose Parent | Grades 9-12

As an On Purpose Parent, our main goal is to raise our children to become interdependent, life-long followers of Jesus who desire to make a Kingdom contribution. The main way we are going to do this is called the On Purpose Parent (OPP) Plan.

The fourth Age/Stage of the OPP Plan is Grades 9-12. This is where your main Role is that of a COACH and your main Goal is that your child will “Activate Their Faith.” The following paragraphs are to help you Understand and Appreciate this Age/Stage your child is in

During adolescence, the transition from childhood to adulthood is important. Children are becoming more independent, and begin to look at the future in terms of career, relationships, families, housing, etc. Your child desires to belong to a society and fit in. It’s during this Age/Stage that the adolescent will re-examine his or her identity and try to find out exactly who he or she is.

High Schoolers are still developing in the same ways they were in Junior High: physically, intellectually, socially, and spiritually. Then, add these things to the mix: driving, dating, varsity sports, SAT tests, facial hair, first jobs, college applications, increased peer pressure, more concerned about social status and the list goes on.

If the Junior High years can best be described by the word CHANGE, the best word for the High School phase might be BUSY or ANXIOUS or UNCERTAINTY. As uncertain as it all is, this Age/Stage can also be an incredibly rich, meaningful, and bonding season between you and your child!

Now it’s time to Adjust your parenting approach. In the previous Ages/Stages, we described your Roles/Goals like this:

> CAREGIVER – “See Your Faith”
> CRAFTER – “Nurture Their Faith”
> CHEERLEADER – “Own Their Faith”

Remember, you don’t give up these Roles/Goals, instead you add… COACH – “Activate Their Faith.”

Shifting to the role of COACH is significant. You’re still in charge, but it should start to look different. You’re on the sidelines more than ever. You’re giving the occasional pep-talk, calling “time-out” when you need to help them regroup and get a new game plan.

Your time with them is more limited than ever before, so you’re teaching them how to think on their own and make “game time” decisions. In short, the game is becoming theirs to play. If it all works out, they may even dump a bucket of Gatorade on your head on graduation night.

As their COACH, here are 3 Practices to Assist your High Schooler with Activating Their Faith:

1) Help them discover their unique S.H.A.P.E
God has SHAPED your child in a unique way. The high school years are vital years for your child to begin to recognize and appreciate the distinctive way God has shaped and wired them.

Helping them discover their spiritual gifts, heartfelt passions, abilities, personality, and life experiences will help them understand how God has designed them to uniquely serve Him and others. This, in turn, will help them fulfill God’s unique plan for their life!

2) Help them develop a sense of PURPOSE
High schoolers certainly don’t need to feel pressured to figure out exactly how their life’s purpose will play out, but they should begin to understand that God does have a unique plan for their life. They were created on purpose. God’s purpose for their life is the same for everybody…that they would be interdependent, life-long followers of Jesus who desire to make a Kingdom contribution.

What is unique, and what you can help them begin to understand, is how that will look for them. Choosing if/where to go to college, what type of career to pursue, and other approaching decisions will be influenced as they recognize the unique way God has shaped them.

3) Help them begin to PLAN for what life looks like after High School
This is perhaps the toughest area for most parents to truly limit themselves to the role of a COACH. Because the post-high school years are so important, parents work hard to control every aspect of their child’s high school experience (which often began by controlling their junior high experience).

In some cases, early childhood decisions such as picking the right school district, getting the proper tutoring, involvement in sports and other extra-curricular activities were motivated by the desire on the parent’s part to set the stage for acceptance into the college of their child’s dreams (or the college of their own dreams).

While raising children in the early years in ways that set them up for success later in life is good, High School is when parents should let their child speak into the process. A good coach (remember, your role in this phase is not to control, but to coach) allows the player to navigate the game on their own. Have all the important conversations with them, but instead of dictating how things will be, simply provide well-timed input.

High School is a strategic time to COACH your kids that their ultimate purpose in life isn’t to get into the right college, have a great career, or marry the person of their dreams. But that all those things are meant to be used to help them “Activate Their Faith,” so they can make a Kingdom contribution!


  • Chris Reed | Pastor to Parents | Saddleback Church

    Chris married his beautiful bride, Tina, in 1990. They have three wonderful adult children, Jacob, Kaylee, and Macie Joy. Chris began pastoring at a church in Los Angeles in 1995 where he was the Children’s and Student Pastor. He was the Executive Pastor of Student Ministries at John Maxwell's church in South Florida before he came to Saddleback in 2008 as our Pastor to 20s/30s. He has since served as Pastor to Singles and Pastor to Marriages. He is currently our Pastor to Parents leading the charge for all things Parents Ministry at Saddleback. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies and his Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership.

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