I would never want to run a marathon without any training.  In fact, if I signed up for a marathon, I’d be out there every day getting ready for my 26-mile trek.  Bit by bit, I would run farther and faster.  And eventually, I should be able to reach my goal.  The day is coming when your teen will leave your home and be on his own.  Sure, working out right now might create some risk as you and your teen determine his boundaries, but if you wait until that day to allow him to experience freedom, he may not be able to handle his newfound liberty

When you train your body as a weightlifter, the key to success is to keep at it.  There are days when you won’t want to get up and pump iron, do squats or run on the treadmill.  It’s the same way with your relationship with your teen.  If your family isn’t intentionally building strength together every day, the muscles you are trying instill in your child’s body will atrophy.

If you have been holding onto the reins tightly, try starting off with some light weights.  See how he responds to responsibility, and then gradually increase the weight.  If you have been taking a hands-off approach, get a sense of whether your teen might be struggling under too much weight.  Remove some of the freedom until he is able to show that he can handle the responsibility.

When you give your teen the opportunity to succeed and the opportunity to fail, he will either make a mistake, face the consequences, and try his hardest not to do it again, or he will succeed and remember how good it feels.  With every choice that is made, your teen will strengthen his ability to handle the harder decisions and responsibilities later on in life.  When that day comes, you can look back with deep satisfaction knowing that God used you to be his personal trainer.

Mom, dad, keep up the good work.  Your son or daughter is well worth the effort!

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, located in Hallsville, Texas.  For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our website.  It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent.  Or read other helpful articles by Mark, at www.markgregston.com.  You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.  Hear the Parenting Today’s Teens broadcast on a radio station near you, or download the podcast at www.parentingtodaysteens.org.

Publication date: July 2, 2012