If youre the parent of a teen, you likely face many challenges as you strive to help your son or daughter successfully make the transition from childhood to adulthood. The societal pressures that impact teens today can leave you feeling frustrated, but you can effectively deal with the difficulties you encounter.
Here are some ways you can handle some challenging situations that might affect your teens life:
<>If your teen wont communicate well with you, try to determine what past hurt might have caused communication to break down in your relationship with him or her, then ask forgiveness for your part in causing the hurt. Take the time to truly listen to what your teen says, repeating back in your own words what you understood him or her to say. Show genuine interest in whats important to your teen.
If your teen has a rebellious attitude, explain the reasons behind your rules so he or she knows why its important to follow them. Encourage your teen to make some of his or her own decisions as well (perhaps after listening to your suggestions), then experience the consequences of those decisions. Thats the only way he or she will be prepared to make independent decisions as an adult.
If your teen lies to you, assess how honest you are to see what kind of example youre setting, then, if necessary, adjust your behavior so youre living with integrity. Teach your teen the importance of truth and the serious danger of lying (which makes you vulnerable to evil). Reward your teen for telling the truth in both small and large matters.
If your teen seems to have no vision for his or her future, make sure you dont pressure him or her into fulfilling your own dreams. Realize that God has a unique plan for your teens life, and encourage your teen to discover that plan and pursue it. When your teen shares his or her excitement about a particular dream with you, dont discourage the idea. Give your teen space and time to reflect on the direction of his or her life, introduce your teen to other people who are fulfilling Gods call in their lives through different vocations, and help your teen make a list of his or her gifts and talents.
If your teen isnt living out his or her faith, help your teen discover the excitement of a relationship with Christ. Pray for the Holy Spirit to ignite a fire of passion for Christ in your teens heart. Make sure that your teen has a Bible that he or she can easily understand, such as a version in contemporary language with study notes. Honestly assess your church to determine whether it is genuinely helping your teen grow closer to Christ, and if not, join another one that can better foster your teens growth. Check for one with a dynamic youth group.
If your teen uses drugs of any kind, pray for God to give you the grace to respond to the news calmly. Assure your teen that you still love him or her, even though you dont like his or her behavior. Educate your teen about the dangers of drug use, using statistics and stories of people whose drug use harmed them. Encourage your teen to stop giving control of his or her mind over to chemicals, but instead to pursue freedom through Christ.
If your teen is sexually active, pray for Gods grace to help you respond in love rather than just anger. Tell your teen that you love him or her but dont like his or her behavior. Consider how much youve talked to your teen about sex, and if you havent communicated clearly enough with him or her, take the time to give your teen the sexual education he or she needs. Share an open dialogue with your teen about sex, and explain the many reasons why purity is vitally important. Encourage your teen to begin honoring and protecting his or her dignity and heart by following Gods design for intimacy, and discuss the many benefits of doing so.
Adapted from The Rescue Manual for Parents: How to Successfully Survive the Teenage Years, copyright 1997 by Ron Luce. Published by Albury Publishing, Tulsa, Ok., www.alburypublishing.com, 1-800-811-3921.
Ron Luce is president and CEO of Teen Mania Ministries, a national youth missions organization based in Garden Valley, Texas.