Monday, February 22, 2016

Six Parenting Tips For Teens

Preparing Your Teen For Life

When we first welcome our babies into our arms, we automatically begin teaching them about life as we kiss them, talk to them, snuggle them, and find everything they do amazing.  We teach our kids to talk, walk, be kind, share their toys, clean up their messes, eat, comb their hair, brush their teeth, get dressed, ride a bike, watch out for traffic, read, and a plethora of other important life skills. We execute hundreds of directives throughout each day as we guide our kids through infancy and early childhood. In fact, the “director’s hat” becomes such a commonplace accessory to our role as mothers, that when it’s time to don a different one, we struggle to find one that fits right. We find it hard to set aside such a comfortable fit. It’s been broken in over the years. It is our security, our friend, our link to control. If we replace it, how will our family recognize us?  Will they take us seriously if we suddenly switch styles? How will our kids do without us pointing the way, reminding them of their responsibilities? Will they manage to step up to the plate?
Imagine your relationship with your child as a road trip. You’re cruising along relating to your offspring in the same way you always have. The car is in drive, and you are navigating all of the familiar routes you’ve always taken, when suddenly your kiddo reaches over and thrusts the car into reverse, sending you into a tailspin that you have no idea how to get out of. This seems so sudden and unexpected, but it’s really not. God created our children to separate from their parents at some point, so they can launch into the mission He planned for them when they were created.  The child that needed to be directed through each detail of life, has been prepared and it’s time now for him to take responsibility for his own responsibilities. How do you gracefully switch hats?  What are you supposed to do now?  How do you relate to this sometimes volatile form of the child you thought you knew so well?  What does your child need from you?  What is your new mission as the parent of child who is quickly nearing the launching pad into adult life? How do you let go while remaining engaged?

It’s a tough transition, and can be confusing for both the child and the parent. Although I have experienced raising teens five times now, it’s still easy to wear the director’s hat when it’s completely inappropriate.  Two of our kids have been out of the nest for over ten years. I didn’t handle the transition well at all with our oldest child. It caught me by surprise and I couldn’t get out of the tailspin. As a result, God taught me some important lessons. I still mess up with my teens. I still forget some of these lessons from time to time.  It’s been a three step forward/two step back, process for me, but these are some of the valuable lessons I’ve gleaned along the way.
1.      Let your child fail sometimes. 
If you remind them of their responsibilities too often, you can actually rob them of profitable lessons they could have learned the first time they were challenged in this area. For example:  After being strictly home schooled their entire lives, our kids enrolled in a Christian school this year that meets two days a week.  Most of their classes are taken at the school, but we have to fill in with a couple of subjects at home.  In our first parent/teacher meeting, they were given instructions about keeping track of their hours for these classes, and we purchased a planner for each of them for this purpose.  I constantly reminded them to fill out their planners.  I constantly reminded them that they needed to do their home classes and account for the time.  I was a wreck when we had the first parent/teacher conference because I knew they had failed to embrace these important responsibilities and it would go on their report cards/transcripts.  Sure enough, it was a train wreck at that first meeting.  After that, I planted my “director’s hat” more firmly on my head and pounced on them constantly.  This was completely ineffective. This has been the most challenging and stretching year for my kids. I can certainly empathize with them because they are under a ton of pressure with their classes at school, and found it difficult to wrap their heads around the importance of record keeping and completing deadlines for their classes at home.  I was frustrated, and stressed out in a completely unhealthy way. I’m pretty sure my blood pressure went way up.  Suddenly I realized that in an effort to protect them from possible long term consequences, I was taking responsibility for something that wasn’t mine to own.  I was trying to play interference for them so they wouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of their choices, and instead, I was sinning against them in the process by my condemning attitude and constant nagging When I did some soul searching, I was able to pinpoint where this was coming from. Fear. Fear for their futures, rather than trust in God for the outcome.

      Proverbs 3:5-7 says:
 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”
And James 1:5-6 says:
 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
So I went to the Lord seeking wisdom, and then I called my friend, Durenda.  Sometimes we need the perspective of another mom who isn’t in our exact scenario.  Sometimes God uses the freshness of an objective source to provide us with wise counsel, and Durenda is another seasoned mom, who over the years, has spoken into my life and God has allowed me to speak into hers.  We need friends like this who love God, who are in God’s Word and know it well, and who measure everything by the Bible as their standard.
After talking and praying with her, God provided the perfect plan.  It’s simple.
Don’t run interference for your kids. 
Trust them to the Lord. Pray for them.  Encourage them. Counsel them as God leads, and let them experience rewards and consequences for their own choices. So, I backed off and left it up to the kids, praying for them and trusting God for the outcome. At the next meeting, the kids answered to their lead teacher and it was a tough consequence, but an effective one.  They had to do a lot of back tracking to fill in their planners, and they had to knock out some history assignments and tests quickly in order to be where they should have been at that point.  It was stressful. It was painful. It was difficult for me to watch, and at that point, it was also important for me to refrain from saying “I told you so.” Underneath my fear was a deep sense of compassion for them. I knew they were under heavy loads, and yet I was adding to those loads by my constant nagging, rather than bringing them the relief I desired. Since that meeting each of them is taking full responsibility for their home classes and record keeping. Taking a hands off approach is something parents of teens need to do more frequently as they are becoming less dependent on us, and learning to navigate life more independently.


2. Pray for them
Pray for them and take every opportunity for discipleship. Come alongside them, and be available without nagging. Take time to listen, ask questions, show an interest in what they are interested in, and provide opportunities for life experience while they are still under your protection and guidance.  Pray with them, take them to the scriptures, always pointing them back to God and His Word.
      3.Take Swift Action
When discipline is necessary, ask questions to help them search their own hearts and draw their own conclusions.  Use few words, listen a lot, and provide consistent, appropriate consequences when necessary.  I am very verbal and I can tell when my family’s eyes glaze over, that they are no longer hearing my barrage of words. They’re just waiting for me to be quiet so life can move on, and they can go back to the status quo. It’s a tough one to apply, but it’s important to simply take action in love, without a ton of explanation.
4. Enjoy them
Remember they are amazing and created in His image. Watch them. Admire them. Listen to them and enjoy their sense of humor, stories, antics, and their talents. There is nothing more amazing than watching your children as they emerge from childhood into teens with amazing talents and insight. Sometimes the wisdom they share astounds me, and reminds me that God is definitely at work in their hearts and lives.  Be sure you express the beautiful things you see in them and let them know they are loved and cherished.




5. Allow them to ask the tough questions
When your kids question your beliefs, or your opinions it’s easy to feel threatened and respond with a knee jerk reaction, but be prepared ahead of time that it WILL happen and remember that this is a very healthy thing, as long as they are respectful and honoring in their attitudes.  If they question you, remember they will question others, as well and that’s a positive and necessary skill. You can help them learn critical thinking skills if you don’t take this personally, and you can assist them in developing discernment if you handle this objectively, and prayerfully. If you don’t know how to deal with their questions in the moment, tell them they have asked a good question that you can’t answer right now, but that you will get back to them as soon as you have had a chance to think it through. Encourage them by communicating how wonderful it is that they are thinking for themselves, and questioning things.
6. Trust them to God
As moms we tend to worry about our kids, but it’s important to remember that God is sovereign over their lives and he created them for a purpose.  They will not die one day sooner than they are supposed to, and no amount of worry will change that.  “I have suffered many things in my life time, most of which never happened.”  I forget where I heard this quote, but it has stuck with me.
John 14:27 says: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”


  1. This is such good advice, Jana. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

    1. Lisa, thank you. It's always good to hear from you! I hope all is well with you and your beautiful family. I need to come by and see what you have been up to again! <3 (((Hugs)))

  2. Thank you . I neeeded that today. With nearly 4 teen boys at home and having raised 5 already with 4 more to follow....I need constant reminders to do it differently and stay on task. Thank you.xx

    1. You are SO blessed! Wow! Is that thirteen altogether? Or is it nine? Either way, you are a very blessed mom! Are they all boys? I'm with you. I need constant reminders, too. It's easy to get stuck in the rut of how we have always related with our kids, and not allow the process to change us and sanctify us. Thank you for sharing and I will pray for you. <3 We all need each other. :)

  3. Great post! We have one son who's just entering his teens, and three others who've left, or are at the upper end of the teens. Speaking for how things were with the older ones, I have to say that my abiding memory is of laughter! Yes, there were 'issues' to be worked out, but I would say to any mum with teens, 'Above all, *laugh* with them. Chill out enough to simply *enjoy* their company' (well, when I say, 'above all', my REAL 'above alls' are spiritual. After all, their souls will never die, and spiritual matters have eternal consequences. Of course) .... But still, I think enjoying them for who they are, and who they're becoming is of critical importance. After all, if they see you don't like being with them, you cannot wonder when they turn to other company for advice etc.

    Great advice here, Jana :)
    Anne x

    1. Hi Anne! Thank you for sharing. I am in full agreement with you. Laughter is so important and that's one of my favorite things about teens. They are so witty and fun! I think your focus is spot on! Blessings to you,
      Jana <3