Children are a blessing from God. There's no doubt about that. Sometimes, though, as we journey through the teenage years, a reminder of this truth is good.
It's not unusual for teens to go through a rebellious stage—questioning the purpose and necessity of rules and authority while trying to establish personal independence. Some pull away, close up, act out, or seek attention. On top of it all, they're dealing with so many challenges—moving from middle school to high school, peer pressure, hormonal changes, self-discovery, and so much more.
For parents who want to raise God-fearing and well-adjusted teenagers, there are many resources—Bible studies, magazines, Christian books—that give Biblical advice on parenting. Here are a few to explore:
- Parenting Teens Magazine - This monthly magazine offers information, encouragement, and advice to families facing the unique challenges and blessings of parenting teens. Find expert insight and practical tips for the day-to-day, crisis situations, and ways to engage in spiritual conversations.
- Raising Christ-Centered Children Bible Study - This 6-session course focuses on how we can discipline children with unconditional love, raise counter-cultural teenagers, and overcome parenting fears.
- Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No - Dr. John Townsend presents the case that strong, healthy boundaries are the key to a strong, healthy relationship with teens. Discover how to set healthy boundaries for both yourself and your teen to enhance your relationship and their relationships with others.
- Parenting Teens with Love and Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood - When kids hit their teen years, parenting takes on a whole new dimension. As they struggle toward independence and autonomy, some dicey issues emerge—this book explores those situations and more.
- How to Really Love Your Teen, Revised and Updated - Renowned author and counselor, Dr. Ross Campbell, provides tools that will help all of us show love to our teenagers. He addresses how to express love to teens, handle teenage anger (and their own!), deal with adolescent depression, and help teens grow spiritually.
If you're browsing the internet looking for tips on being a better parent to your teen, here are 4 important pieces of advice that you can mull over right now—no shipping time required.
1. Give your teen space
Look for safe opportunities for your teens to experience freedom. Giving them more independence is essential to helping them establish their own place in the world. However, the amount of freedom should be based on trust. The trust baseline has already been set; they've already in part earned an amount of trust with you. Use that base to determine where to start.
Here are a few specific examples of things you can alter in order to afford your teen more freedom:
- Bedtime/curfew - Let your teen determine bed time but put an agreement in place that they will be in their room by 10 PM on school nights and Midnight on weekends.
- Social plans - Let them make their own plans but require that they report the 5 W's (What are you doing and why? Who will be there? Where will you be? When will it happen?).
- Car use - If you're sharing a vehicle with your teenager, give your teen freedom to use it, but require that they tell you the 5 W's again and replace the fuel they've used after each outing.
Michelle LaRowe, a contributing author at momtastic.com, has some more great advice in her article, 5 Tips For Giving Your Teenager More Freedom.
Start thinking about this now. In your head, think of at least 5 areas in which you can give your teen more freedom.
2. Choose your battles wisely
In the webmd.com article, 10-parenting-tips-for-raising-teenagers, Dr. Kaslow says,
"Doing themselves harm or doing something that could be permanent (like a tattoo), those things matter. Purple hair, a messy room -- those don't matter."
The point is, don't nitpick. If you're giving your teen room to grow and experience appropriate freedom, don't knock every choice they make, even if you disagree with it.
Take a moment right now to make a list. On that list, write down 3 things that you're willing to accept (i.e. what your teen chooses to wear to school, what's for lunch, etc.), and 5 things on which you're not willing to compromise.
3. Show your teen that you care—don't just say it
While you can say, "I love you!" a million times over, what speaks more loudly are your actions. Show your teen that you care by listening when they talk and respecting their feelings.
Experts at the Mayo Clinic suggest that you make it a point to have a few meals together each week. Better yet, invite your teen to prepare the meal with you. On days when you're having trouble talking to your teen, consider doing your own thing in the same space—simply being near each other could lead to the start of a conversation.
In the focusonthefamily.com article, Walking Alongside Your Teen, author Joe White wrote this:
"During the turbulent and often disillusioning days, all I knew to do was spend time with my girls. Fortunately, that turned out to be the key to the relationship I wanted so badly.
My connecting point with daughter Courtney was on her early morning jogs. She wanted to run three to six miles at 6:15 A.M., so we hit the pavement together. I had to follow her rules, though:
1. We ran at her pace.
2. She did all the talking.
3. I did all the listening.
When I tried to change the pace (a mistake I only made once) or tried to give unsolicited advice (probably more than once), I was quickly corrected and reminded of "the rules."
I still look back on those early morning "joggers" as some of the most important hours I'll ever spend in my life. That's when I learned how vital it is to walk (or run) alongside our teens."
Take a moment to identify your connecting points and think about how you can be more intentional with those times. Is it during dinner? On weekly or monthly outings? Or on a run—like it was for Joe?
Philippians 4:6 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
That's easy for Paul, the author of Philippians, to say, right?
Probably not. He was in prison again when he wrote these words.
Let's strive to follow Paul's example. Test his words. The next time you feel anxious or concerned, lay your requests at the feet of Jesus, and don't forget to thank Him for all the times He has provided.
Here are more encouraging Bible verses for parents of teenagers.
Either in a personal journal or Google doc, write down your prayer list. What are you anxious about? Are you concerned about your teen's behavior, rebellious attitude, group of friends, grades in school, or spiritual walk? Whatever it is, write it (or them!) down and pray every day. Consider keeping a prayer journal to track how God's working.
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