So many parents dread the teens years. But if you have been building with your teen and doing life with them, these years can be fun and productive. If you haven’t been in that habit, it’s never too late to start.

First – your parenting work is not over. Your teens need you as much as when they were little – possibly more. Don’t make the mistake many parents do by assuming teens are almost grown so – – back off. Even though they might not admit it, teens are often afraid and don’t know what to do. Yet, culture expects they should. To compensate, they act confident. Teens are trying to make sense of a world that, frankly, adults haven’t been able to. They are daring you to care enough to help them.

Some things to remember as you interface with your teen:

  1. Pray for them with sincere investment in their development. Ask for wisdom, deep love, and creative strategies.
  2. Even if your teen pushes you away, don’t budge! Gently, respectfully, firmly insist on being involved in their life while maintaining reasonable control.
  3. Tell them you love themoften!
  4. Walk closely with them – especially as they begin to show interest in the opposite sex. Remember: this is when serious life mistakes are made. Your job is to help them learn to be God-centered even while hormones are going bonkers.
  5. Keep communication lines open. Keep reaching to your teen in love, firmness, kindness, and encouragement. How you relate to them will affect how they process life. You bear more responsibility than they do in the kind of relationship you have with them. Keep modeling healthy, mature adult behavior.
  6. Do careful detective work and pray for discernment as you talk with your teen about friends and heart throbs:
    • A lot is revealed by following their friends on social media.
      • Note the flavor of posts, comments, and perspectives.
      • Look at the history of interactions.
    • Keep telling your teen – “time reveals character,” so be patient while they figure out what kind of person their “friend” is.
    • Observe their behaviors as they interact with friends. Respectfully give suggestions and tips on how to improve communication, how to relax, how to overcome insecurity, how to present themselves confidently, how to be maturely funny, etc.
    • Ask questions about their friends. Like:
      • What do they do in their free time?
      • How many people have they dated and why?
      • What integrity do they display in conversation and choices?
  1. Make it clear to your teen that you care more about who they are becoming than whether they “like you” right now. Don’t let your own insecurity get in the way of being a godly parent. Being a good parent gives them companionship, partnership, acceptance, and love. But it also gives them a more experienced person to provide safety, foundation, wisdom, and balance.
  2. Tell your teen to guard their heart. It belongs to God. Encourage them to be a friend to themselves by not giving their heart away quickly and cheaply.
  3. Coach your teen how to address loneliness. Loneliness is an experience common to all people, including Jesus when He lived on earth.
  4. Talk about the hard subjects. Schedule regular “dates.” Lead in this! As they see you respectfully and courageously addressing hard teen issues, they will become more comfortable talking about them. Be a good listener as they open up.

 

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