God promises that His Word produces results in time. Hold to spiritual and doctrinal absolutes, but let your teenager develop their own ideas and opinions rather than forcing them to parrot yours exactly. One of the reasons that so many Christian young people stop going to church when they leave home is that their faith never became their own; it was always their parents’ faith. They went along with it for as long as they had to, but once they left home they no longer had a reason to go. Remember, we are responsible to teach our children about God, but we cannot make them accept our faith in God as their own faith.

Major on the majors, not the minors.

Face it, some things simply don’t matter that much. They may matter to you, but do they matter to your child’s future? Some parents spend a lot of time focusing on the minor things like appearance. Even if you don’t particularly love their latest haircut or shirt style, if it isn’t an issue of modesty, it’s not worth making a federal case out of it. Allow them the freedom to express their own personality.

The music I liked as a teen drove my parents crazy. They couldn’t understand why I liked that “noise.” But even though I may not like a particular type of music a teen enjoys, if they are suicidal or on drugs or dealing with major anger issues, music isn’t going to be my focus. I want to spend my time on the things that matter most, and allow the teens to develop their own tastes. Believe me, it’s amazing how much their tastes will change over time, and before long they’ll like much of the same music you and I do. For now, they will mostly listen to what their friends are, so they can keep up on it and not appear to be out of touch with their culture.

Don’t drive them crazy.

Many parents of teens use the “Spare the rod and spoil the child” approach, saying it is scriptural, while overlooking the “Fathers, do not exasperate your children” reference. The definition of “exasperation” includes a number of words that clearly describe the situation like: “make furious, irritate, provoke, annoy, anger, inflame, infuriate, exacerbate, make worse, enrage, and aggravate.” Using the same discipline technique in the teen years as when they were young will lead to exasperation. It just doesn’t work with teens, and it turns them against their parents. Oh, they may appear more docile, but it is likely that they are seething inside or broken in spirit. There are better ways to discipline a teenager which usually entail letting them feel the “pain” of the loss of privileges and added duties.

Some may read the “Do not exasperate” verse thinking that the intent of the writer was to only to discourage parents from abandoning, cursing, demoralizing, abusing, or screaming at their child. However, I believe teenagers can also be exasperated by parents who treat them still as children, not as thinking, reasoning, pre-adults.

In conclusion, I want to remind you that the measurement of good character is not just following all the rules; it is the presence of taking initiative and thinking well and responding properly to life’s challenges. One of our primary responsibilities as parents is to train our children and give them the tools to be successful adults. By promoting independence in growing and appropriate ways as they get older, we are preparing them to make good decisions and move ahead confidently into life on their own.

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a therapeutic boarding school located in East Texas. Call 903-668-2173. Visit http://www.heartlightministries.org, or to read other articles by Mark, visit http://www.markgregston.com. Also, you can download Mark's new free e-book titled "Road To Restoration - 20 Ways to Bring Healing To Your Family" by clicking on the link.