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Ten Truths for Parents about Raising Teens (Part 1)

First, it’s not as easy as it looks. It only looks easy when you’re on the outside looking in—like when you don’t have any! Something amazing happens when a child turns “13” as seven years of brain freeze sets in :) . It can be a creative time of fun and laughter, or it can be over-the-top challenging (probably some of both). And you thought toddlers were tough… Okay, here goes:

1. Trust but verify. You have the right as a parent to know where they are, who they are with, where they are going, and when they’ll be home. You don’t stop parenting when your kids hit the teen years; you i*n*t*e*n*s*i*f*y. In other words, don’t be naïve. It’s not your kids that you don’t trust; it’s Satan! Hopefully you have been around long enough to know that he is never trustworthy. Remember this: he is a lion on the prowl and has your kids in his sights (1 Pet.5:8). You don’t protect them by passively looking the other way.   

2. Set the example. Kids learn their values from us, so make sure your actions reflect those values. Teens can handle anything except hypocrisy. Note two facts: (1) They can spot hypocrisy a mile away, and they (2) will exploit it to their advantage. Make sure your decisions are God-honoring. Leadership starts at the top and that’syou. “You [parent] shall love the Lord with all your [parent] heart and with all your [parent] soul and with all your [parent] might (Deut.6:5).  

3. Communicate with them. Teens tend to “plug in” in order to tune out. Don’t let them do that all the time. Learning how to converse and communicate with adults begins with their knowing how to converse and communicate with you. How? Start by asking questions at the supper table. Fun questions: If you could live anywhere in the U.S., where? Outside the U.S., where? What are your three all-time favorite movies? Your top-three favorite meals? Besides asking you these questions, name three things that annoy you? Etc. If the silent treatment continues, offer them a simple solution: either unplug and talk to me, or I’m coming to eat lunch with you at school! (One mother actually did it and the response was amazing).

4. Look for outside resources. Family and friends with a track record for raising responsible kids are a great resource. Ask for book recommendations or church websites where you can download lessons that speak to this issue.

5. Make the boundaries clear. Like the boundaries of your physical property, teens need to know the rules (boundaries). Specify what is in and out of bounds. Nothing discourages and frustrates a child more than boundaries not clearly defined.   Read Part Two...