Excerpt taken from Hot Buttons: Internet Edition, Copyright 2012 by Nicole O'Dell. Published by Kregel Publications, a division of Kregel Inc., Grand Rapids MI. These contents may not be excerpted or distributed without expressed written permission of the publisher.

It is surprising how little power many parents exercise over the lives of their teens. In so many homes, the teens are in charge. They use manipulation tactics, bad attitudes, arguments, and even threats to get their way. They play on parents’ fears and weaknesses, and they know just when to strike and how far is too far. Parents throw their hands up in the air and surrender the fight. Their lukewarm tactics become about surviving, not thriving. They figure they only have to endure the trial of the teen years for a short time and if they can just get through this season, things will be better.

Mom, Dad, if that’s your attitude, please think about how that sounds. You’re basically saying you aren’t going to worry about what your teens do or think, and you’re just going to hope and pray that you all reach their adulthood with as few proverbial bruises as possible. I beg you to rethink the teen years. Where infancy was training for toddlerhood, and childhood was preparation for the teen years, the teen years are the foundation for adulthood. It’s during these most important years that your teenager will:

  • prepare to choose a mate
  • establish financial habits
  • develop a work ethic
  • cultivate parenting skills
  • grow into—or out of—a deeper personal relationship with God

The teen years are an extremely important preparation time! And parents, it’s time to stand up and make these years count. You don’t need to get through these years; you need to power through them. Take charge, and make a difference.

Parents need to be in charge, but I’m not advocating for a take-no-prisoners attitude in our homes. Our children need to feel love, not condemnation. They should trust that we’re an ally, not the enemy. You’re not fighting against your kids in hopes of coming out victorious over them; you’re in a battle for them.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

Dispel the Myth of Effective Insulation.

Let’s face it. If we’re raising our kids as Christians, they’re at a huge disadvantage by the world’s standards. The world assumes that teenagers from church-going, Christ-following homes are socially underdeveloped, behind the times physically and emotionally, and uneducated in worldly matters like politics, public issues, pretty much everything in the news.

As Christian parents we try to insulate our families from negative outside influences; we keep watch over the things that enter their young minds through television, movies, language, peer pressure, and the Internet. Our goal is not to render them unsavvy, but to shield them from the wiles of the enemy. Then things that are seemingly innocuous, like social media and other forms of Internet activity, come along and swallow our families whole.

Don’t you wish we could walk with our kids through the battles of life—guarding and guiding them through each pressure-filled moment, each decision between right and wrong, each temptation? While