Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A 13 Year Old Challenge For Your Kids

We tried something part way through our parenting years with each child that seemed to be a favorite and positive learning and growing experience. When they were approaching thirteen we developed a year-long challenge for them with a perk or two involved to give them some incentive.

We wanted to help them grow as Jesus did in "wisdom, stature, favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52) in a significant way as they headed toward adulthood. So we developed a list of things that they would do with our help during the next twelve months. The tasks included activities to develop them intellectually, spiritually, physically and socially.

And while I won't include our list here (each child is different anyway) let me share some highlights to guide you in doing something for your children if you so desire.

One key activity was reading. While they read in school we wanted them to read some important books about people, life, faith and inspiration. You probably have some favorites of your own that you would put on their list.

A second key component was job shadowing at least three people in three areas of their choice.  Our only requirement was that one of those people had to be involved in some sort of Christian ministry.  Interestingly our grown son, Tim, is now following in the steps of one of the people he shadowed and God is using him in special ways.

A third thing was requiring them to learn some basic life skills - i.e. washing clothes, ironing, cooking and saving money. And this is where one of the major perks came from.  If they basically completed the year-long exercise (be gracious but make sure they work at it well) we would match the amount of money they saved and they could spend that portion on anything they wanted.

You can of course come up with your own perks but that seemed to work well for us. At the end of the project we had a little party with some close friends to celebrate and let them know how proud we were of them.

Depending on your kids and their current activities, you might add physical exercise, Bible reading challenges, social events, etc. whatever might fill out the four areas of emphasis.  Work out your own plan.  You know your kids best.

Nonetheless, we look back at this plan as a home run idea with our children and think it's worth other families trying it out. Feel free.  And if you do use it in some form, let us and others know how it went.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.


  1. LOVE this!!! All of it! Thank you, Gary!

  2. Thanks so much. Glad it's helpful. Appreciate the encouragement, too.

  3. Can't believe Connor will be 13 in about 5 months. Thanks for the ideas.