Those Turbulent Teen Years!

January 28th, 2013

Just a few years ago my wife and I had three teenagers in the house all at the same time. These were definitely exciting and yes at times challenging years. But I don’t have any discouraging or difficult stories to tell you. We really loved our kids teen years. Sure there were challenges but it was really a blast. It was nonstop energy and we have a bunch of awesome memories. Our two boys are married to two wonderful daughters-in-law, and our daughter is counting down her days until she and her fiancé get married this June. My heart grieves for parents whose hearts get broken by their kids during those wild and turbulent teenage years.

Debbie and I don’t think we did it all right, but we sure are thankful that our children, now all adults, both love mom and dad but more importantly the Lord Jesus Christ. One thing the teen years did for me personally was they set me to praying - every day. I asked God to make those teenage years times of blessings and joy rather than times of brokenness and turmoil. I prayed that my kids would have godly hearts. I prayed for their sexual purity, for their ability to stand alone against peer pressure, for their self-images, for their desire to honor and obey us, for wisdom, for their friends and teammates and teachers and coaches and future mates. I prayed that the example of my life would be more consistently godly.

Even if you have made mistakes with your kids, you can't quit. I tried to be diligent in doing what I thought was right, adjusting my tac­tics with each situation and each kid, and adjusting again when my methods didn't work. I don’t have all the answers but I did collect every idea and bit of wisdom I could from any source that I could. Failure was just not an option. Let me give you a few simple ideas you might find useful. There is still Hope!

1. Remember Your Two Primary Responsibilities. They are simple and they must be practiced from birth until adulthood. Our First Responsibility is to Train our children. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Our Second Responsibility is to Restrain our children. Eli failed as a parent according to I Samuel 3:13 “…. because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not." I discovered that it required all of the consistency I could muster up to both Train and Restrain my children especially in their teen years. It is so easy to get tired and let down your guard, but nothing could be more catastrophic, especially during the teens years. I have often said. “Raising kids is not for wimps.”

2. Allow Choices Whenever Possible. When our teens have disappointed us, or failed to gain our confidence, it's easy to step in and make all the decisions ourselves. But kids learn to make good choices ... by making choices. If good choices lead to pleasant results and poor choices produce painful consequences (which they often will if you don't "rescue" them), you'll probably find your son or daughter making more of the former than the latter. Many parents so dominate their teens every decision that the first serious decision they make is to rebel.

3. Remember The Crucial Power Of Saying, "No." It's part of a parent's job description, as I just mentioned in point number one, so don't be timid! "Everybody" may be doing it, going to it, watching it, listening to it, but "In this family, we're not!" Don't just issue declarations, though; keep working on the relationship and explain the reasons behind the boundaries. The older they get they more they need a good, Bible based reason.

4. Follow Through With Appropriate Consequences. If your teen comes home before curfew, praise them. If they ignores the limits you've set, withdraw a privilege or maybe impose some punishment. In the interest of fairness, let your teen know ahead of time what the limits and penalties are. For example, coming home 15 minutes late means coming home 15 minutes early next time. Make it very clear so no one forgets! If you keep moving the goalpost it will lead to resentment and frustration.

5. Re-Evaluate Your Own Personal Habits Occasionally. Every so often, honestly assess where you are and how you're doing as a parent. Give your­self credit in the areas where you're doing well, and thank God for His help. In other areas, be willing to get some advice or help, especially if you’re not doing so well. Often just admitting you’re not doing so good regains the respect and confidence of your teenager.

6. Be Consistent. Some parents find this the toughest task of all. But teens like to know where they stand and what's expected of them. When rules change and they get in trouble, they withdraw or lash out. Nothing is more crazy than dropping out of church or letting your convictions slip when your kids are teens and adults.  Families that compromise in their kids teen years rarely ever see their kids live for God or remain faithful to a good church in their adult years. No matter how much they challenge your Bible based convictions, whatever you do, don’t change course when your teens life course is being set.

7. Be Patient. Sometimes we just need to step back and take a deep breath. Give yourself, and your teen, a break. You're going through a time of upheaval and delicate wire-walking. Allow yourself some slack when it comes to measuring progress. A lot of times I have observed that things will Work Out if we don’t Freak Out.

8. Be Aware Of What Is Going On In Your Teen's World. You have to stay involved in your kids life. You need to know about the culture that's pressuring and misinforming your son or daughter. Don’t be foolish and put your head in the sand. If your kid has facebook then you or your wife needs to have it and keep very informed about what is going on in their world. This may not be very popular but here is my advice for teenagers – No cell phone, no TV in their room and no unfiltered internet access.

9. Enjoy Your Teenager. Being a parent to a teen is not all hard work. There can be a lot of fun, too. Teens are daring, outra­geous, crazy, insightful. They can be great companions when you're running a quick errand. Think of your teen as a new friend you'd really like to get to know. Try not to lose sight of that, even when you don't think you could love this kid one more second. I can honestly say, our kids were when they were teens and now in adulthood are our best friends.

This Sunday Starts An Exciting 4 Week Family Conference At Our Church. The theme for the month of February here at Grace is “There Is Hope For Our Homes And Families.” Each Sunday morning this month one of our staff men will be preaching a vital message on the family in our main auditorium 11:00 AM service. Each Sunday evening in the 6:00 PM service, I will be preaching a series of messages on Raising Godly Children. Join us for a thrilling time February 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th.