It’s official! This morning I became the unprepared but grateful mom of four (yes, that’s 4!) teenagers. My youngest turned 13 today, and my oldest won’t be 20 until June 20.
I’ve vowed to milk this next 2 months for all the sympathy I can get.
One would think that by now I’d have something profound to say about raising teenagers. I don’t. But, I am going to take a stab at passing on a few tips I’ve learned.
To manage those teen years, you must first of all understand the
Dichotomy of Teens
An attribute of all teenagers is their dichotomy. You are not imagining things. Your teenager’s behavior IS contradictory, changing from one moment to the next. They are
- slobs yet at times obsessive in their tidiness
- fiercely independent yet incredibly needy
- lovable but aloof
- talkative yet strangely silent
- love sleep but never want to go to bed
- sure of themselves yet deep-down insecure
It’s nothing you have or haven’t done. It’s part of balancing that delicate stage between childhood and adulthood. Yet it can be unnerving as you try to be a part of your teen’s life.
But take heart, my dear Parent. God gave this child to you because you are the best parent for him. You are the parent he needs.
Strategies To Be an Effective Parent of a Teenager
What I’ve learned…
(1) Never quit praying: This is a difficult time for your child as she tries to discover who she is and what is next. She desperately needs your prayers and needs to KNOW you pray for her.
(2) Offer increased freedom: Teenagers need freedom to explore and develop their own value system while still under the umbrella of parental guidance. They must take ownership of their faith. Be supportive as they ask those tough questions.
(3) Establish a few firm boundaries: Teenagers want freedom but still need boundaries. As your teen gets older, the rules should focus increasingly around safety and being respectful of the family and others. It’s okay to have a curfew, to be privy to his social media activity, and to require faithful church attendance. But don’t micromanage his life. Give teens space and let them fail. Just be sure to be there to pick them up.
(4) Be flexible: Flexibility with teenagers is important. For example, prom night may be an exception to the curfew rule. If your child has earned your trust, respect that by allowing more freedom.
(5) Don’t take offense: Your teen will lash out or roll eyes or give you the cold shoulder at times. Address the disrespect issue but don’t overreact.
(6) Expect participation in the family: Do expect your teenager to attend family events unless there is a good excuse. She still is and always will be a member of your family and have family obligations. Also, encouraging family time further strengthens a forever bond.
(7) Join your teen’s world a bit: I swore off text messaging, until I realized my teens would actually answer a text. Now it has become an important way of keeping in touch. (Not replacing togetherness, but enhancing communication.)
Raising my teenagers hasn’t been without tears and heartache, and I’m certain there will be more of each. But thanks be to our gracious God, there has also been great joy.
Through the Lord’s strength and guidance you too can discover the blessing of those teen years.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 NLT)
Reflection: What tip(s) for raising teenagers have you found the most helpful? What suggestion(s) did I miss?
Happy 13th birthday, Joey! Your compassion and loving nature fill our lives with joy. We love you!
Yours in grace ≈