Parenting teenagers isn’t easy. Here are some ways to help.
I have two teenagers living in my house. Sometimes I claim them as my own. Sometimes I don’t. Oh, I birthed them alright. I remember it vividly. They came right out of me–after a few hours of painful coaxing. They are 50% me, and 50% my husband.They’ve been under our influence and care since the day we brought them home. They live in our house. They eat our food.
When the bible says, “Two are better than one, because they have a better return for their work” (Ecclesiastes 3:9), I’m pretty sure Solomon didn’t have teenagers in mind. By and large, teenagers are apathetic, lazy, yet crafty little con artists who get a rise out of getting under their parents’ skin.
Bless these little anomalies!
Teenagers. They wrestle with their identity. They struggle to find their way. The line between right and wrong gets cloudier and hazier for them every day. They’re kids, yet sometimes want to dip their hand in the experiences of adulthood. They need boundaries, yet want freedom. They laugh one minute, cry the next. They need tender, loving care, shepherding and nurturing, but they only want it on their terms. Does anybody with teenagers relate to what I’m saying?
Here’s the thing…God created teenagers. He created them out of sheer love. He created them with a plan and for a purpose. He loves each and every one of them dearly and unconditionally.
Parenting teenagers isn’t easy. I’m certainly not an expert. I’m knee-deep in the throes of it myself. But here’s what I’ve found to be absolutely necessary in my attempt at surviving these teenage years:
6 WAYS TO SURVIVE TEENAGERS:
- Love them like crazy. No matter what they do (or fail to do), let them know you love them. Tell them often. Tell them creatively. Show them love in a variety of ways.
- Tell them you’re proud of them. They’re still kids no matter how old or mature they may act. They need to feel worth and value from you. There’s something inside them that longs to hear those words from their parents or grandparents. It’s affirmation that they’re doing the right thing, on the right track, made a good choice, etc.
- Rule the roost. Choose your battles wisely, but the ones you do engage in, you must win. If you don’t, when they see you’ve given them the proverbial inch, they’ll take the proverbial mile. You can’t leave them to their own recognizance hoping they’ll learn a profound lesson. They don’t have this capacity yet. They must know who’s in charge.
- Set boundaries, margins, and guidelines. Without these we set them up for failure. They may react (or overreact) when we lay these out, but they need these. If there are none, there is no clarity on what’s out of line. We all work best within a certain set of parameters–not confining, restrictive, lifeless boundaries, but ones that make sense. If nothing else, point #4 backs up point #1.
- Patiently listen to them. You may not agree with their perspective. You may think they’ve gone off the deep end. But patiently listening, once again, gives them worth and value. Let them share the various travels of their minds with you. As you listen, you learn. You learn who they are inside, in the deepest parts of them. Listening to your teenager creates a vitally important connection with them.
- Point them God-ward. This is the biggest and hardest challenge of them all. In all their experimenting, rebelling, growing, making mistakes, etc., they need to know that the God of the universe loves them unconditionally. They need to know that God has an amazing plan for them. They need to know that God desires to do life with them each and every day. They need to know that when they screw up, there’s grace and forgiveness waiting for them. And it’s our job to tell them!
Parenting teenagers isn’t easy. (I pray…A LOT!) It’s a daily challenge. But on the flip-side, it’s a daily joy. God, in His infinite wisdom, not only created teenagers, but has blessed us with these little anomalies to mold, to guide, to direct, to teach, and to shape all for His glory.
So, parents…Man your battle stations, don your shield of faith, immerse yourself in love, patience, and grace, and be the parent our teenagers need!
Published in: Family