"Every kid is one, caring adult away from being a success story." Josh Shipp said in his incredible video about how a parent or anyone who invests in a child can change that child's future. A Harvard study, conducted in their Center for the Developing Child in March 2015, backs this up: "Every child who winds up doing well has had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult."

We all love our children and want them to be happy and successful. But after watching Josh's video, I realized that I don't have all the time in the world left with each of my children. They will eventually grow up as they are already beginning to do. And then they will start their own lives and make their own choices without my presence. My time for nurturing each of our children in our home is a ticking clock.

Josh Shipp teaches some amazing ideas on how to be better, more loving parents for our teens based on his own very difficult childhood. Here are a few of them:

  1. Invest time in your teen. Step one: Find out what they are into. Step two: Spend time doing what matters to them because they matter to you. Step three: Your investment of time will lead to influential conversations.

  2. Don't become discouraged. Sometimes when we invest time in our children, it feels like it's not working. But kids spell trust T-I-M-E and if you keep investing time and attention, even if that kid is still acting out and you don't think he deserves it, the caring and investment will eventually pay off.

  3. Let your children know you see their potential. Look at their challenges as opportunities instead of problems. Let them know that you see beneath the surface of their actions; when kids don't talk out, they will act out. Give them the space and safety to talk by making it clear to them that you see their amazing potential and that you believe they will overcome their obstacles.

  4. Wishful thinking is not a strategy. When our children are little, we may dismiss some of their behavior as just a stage that they will soon grow out of, and this is usually true. But when our teenagers are struggling, they need help and support even if they aren't overtly acting out. Don't assume they will outgrow their challenges; the teenage years are such a critical stage in the development of confidence and emotional skills for life. Be proactive in guiding your teens through whatever they are struggling with.

  5. Difficult and impossible are not synonyms. When we are in the middle of raising our teenagers it may seem like some obstacles are so difficult that success seems impossible. But difficult is not impossible; it's just hard. Don't give up hope before you even try.

Practically following through on Shipp's advice is understandably the hardest part of using these ideas. Some of us don't approve or respect the things that our teens are into so we don't take that crucial first step of spending time doing what matters to them because they matter to us. But this is a critical, if not the most critical part, of giving your child your time.

I did this recently with one of my daughters. She loves shopping, and I would be happy to never have to endure walking for hours through the boring, meaningless stores of the mall. But I love my daughter, and what she likes really does matter to me because it matters to her. So I have been shopping with her more lately, not necessarily to buy things but to talk, to laugh, to enjoy each other's company. And I try to focus on how grateful I am that my daughter still wants to spend the day shopping with me. That we are close enough to have jokes between us that no one else understands. And that I am making sure to invest as much I can in these precious few remaining years of her childhood.

Because in the end, the opportunity to be a parent is an incredible gift that we can only receive if we see our children as the blessings that they really are. And we can and should take our most precious possession, time, to actualize these blessings entrusted in our care.