Originally posted on Crosswalk.com's Live It Channel, bringing you today's best advice from Christian books.

Mark Twain said, "When a child turns 13, you put him in a barrel with only a hole to feed him through. When he turns 18, plug the hole."

Every family faces stresses in raising children. The oft dreaded teen years don't have to be a bad experience for child and parent alike. There are steps that parents can take to make those years a satisfying adventure for all parties.

Parents need:


  • Callused knees. In the critical matter of raising teenagers, prayer is the best solution for the new experiences you all will be sharing. Spend time on your knees in prayer. Pray that the time you have with your teen will be good years. Pray that they will have godly hearts and sexually pure. Pray for their ability to stand alone, their self-image, and their desire to honor and obey you. Pray for their spouses who, somewhere, are also going through their teen years. Pray for their teachers, friends, coaches, and siblings.

  • Elephant ears. Teens must have parents who are eager to listen, slow to speak, and full of understanding. Some teens talk nonstop, some only rarely. You have to be ready and open for those times of communication.

  • Reaching hearts. Spend time with your teen. Take them with you on errands, attend their games and concerts, stay up and talk after parties and dates. Put your teen before TV, the newspaper, and the work you bring home from the office.

  • Penetrating eyes. Get to know your teen's friends. The Bible declares that "bad company corrupts good morals." So, get to know the character of your child's friends. Insist that your child bring friends home, especially dates. The earlier you begin this with your kids, the more success you'll have with it.

  • Mannequin bodies. When teens are being tempted by drugs and alcohol, they will look to see how you view drugs and alcohol. Do you pop pills (prescription or not), drink to relax, or smoke to take the edge off your anxieties? They, likewise, will learn honesty from the lies that you tell, and self-esteem from the movies that you watch and the language you use. They will learn the value of money from the way you care about and share your resources.

  • Steady hands. You owe your children warm beds, adequate food, educational opportunities, and examples of godly living. But the accessories are privileges to be earned. Talking on the phone, driving the family car, going out at night, and receiving an allowance are privileges which must come with proven responsibility. Payment is the reward for hard work. Giving is mutual. These concepts are best taught by example and consistency.



B>Joe White is the author of 11 books, including Pure Excitement, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, and The Gift of Self-Esteem. He is president of Kanakuk-Kanakomo Kamps, Inc., which hosts 14,000 campers each summer. He is a popular speaker and co-host of a national radio show "Life on the Edge Live." Joe and his wife, Debbie-Jo, have four sons.


From What Kids Wish Parents Knew About Parenting by Joe White, copyright (c) 1998. Used by permission of Howard Publishing Co., Inc., West Monroe, La., 1-800-858-4109.