biblical advice for every stage in life

A Difficult Teen

A Difficult Teen

Rebellion can be detrimental to your teen's relationship with you, as well as their relationship with Christ, but there are steps you can take to make these relationships stronger.

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Dealing with a Rebellious Teen

There is little in life that creates more anxiety than having a teenager who seems out of control. Experiencing emotional outbursts, being lied to, or staying up at night worrying about their safety can greatly damage your relationship with your teen. You may have tried different approaches to help them—being tough one day and then trying to show mercy the next—but nothing really seems to make a difference. Watching your teen continue to make bad choices can leave you torn between wanting them to just learn the hard way and being afraid of what they might do in a moment of irresponsibility. What steps can you take now to best help your child?

STEP ONE: Assess Your Relationship

As teen expert Josh McDowell has said, “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.” Considering that your teen’s emotions and behavior are being affected by a surge of changing hormones, it is vital for you to maintain as strong a relationship as possible in the midst of whatever they may be going through. If you have a solid relational foundation, you can build from there. Like the father in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), you can hope that your unconditional love and forgiveness will ultimately draw your teen back. So ask yourself several questions to evaluate the status of your relationship, such as…

  • Is our relationship generally healthy with a few bumps, or generally unhealthy with rare moments of connection?
  • Am I spending time with my teen doing things we enjoy together to create a solid foundation for when tensions occur?
  • Does my child feel deeply loved or heavily criticized? (1 Peter 4:8)
  • Are my spouse and I on the same page – or is there increased tension because we are not rowing together?
  • Has the relationship deteriorated to the point we need pastoral or professional guidance?

What if the relationship is weak? Maybe you have been relationally disconnected for a long time, or maybe your teen is a stepchild who has never really accepted you as his or her parent. Even under these and similar circumstances, you earn respect by building a relationship. Making yourself available, listening, and trying to understand increases your ability to have influence.

Dr. James Dobson stresses the value of routine family connections as a way to cultivate relationship. He cites research showing the positive difference parents make when they are available for their teens in the morning, after school, at dinnertime, and at bedtime. If your current routine is making these connections difficult, it may be time for a change.

STEP TWO: Be the Parent

Some parents interpret the need for relationship as a call to be good friends to their teens, but you need to be the parent—the one who brings stability and structure to the child’s life by setting boundaries and expectations. Showing that kind of authority can be difficult for some, but it is an essential role of parenting. It can also be challenging to direct your teen in a way that does not exasperate him or her (Ephesians 6:4) when you feel disrespected.

As the adult, you need to sacrifice your hurt feelings and anger to do what is best for your teen. You are called as the parent to lovingly direct your teen through the challenges leading to adulthood. Ephesians 4:15 directs us to “speak the truth in love.” Ask God to show you when it is important to be tough and when you need to lead with gentleness and compassionate love.

STEP THREE: If Serious - Seek Professional Help

In this church body, you are surrounded by parents who have raised teenagers; many of whom faced challenges similar to yours. There is no reason to be embarrassed by the challenges you have or to strive to keep the veneer of a perfect family. You need the support and wisdom of those who have been where you are. Do you find yourself asking any of these questions?

  • How can I find out if my child is using drugs or alcohol?
  • Is my daughter having sex, and if so, what should I do?
  • Why does my child seem do depressed?
  • I think my son is looking at pornography. What do I do?

Problems such as alcohol or drug use, pornography addiction, sexual experimentation, severe depression, and other challenges may fall beyond your understanding and require help from counselors and experts who can bring Biblical wisdom along with professional understanding of teens and risky behavior.

recommended books

Boundaries with Teens

By John Townsend

Establish wise and loving limits that make a positive difference in your teen, in the rest of your family, and in you. The teen years: relationships, peer pressure, school, dating, character. To help teenagers grow into healthy adults, parents and youth workers need to teach them how to take responsibility for their behavior, their values, and their lives. From bestselling author and counselor Dr. John Townsend, Boundaries with Teens is the expert insight and guidance you need to help your teens take responsibility for their actions, attitudes, and emotions and gain a deeper appreciation and respect both for you and for themselves.

With wisdom and empathy, Dr. Townsend applies biblically based principles for the challenging task of guiding your children through the teen years. Using the same principles he used to successfully raise two teens, he shows you how to:
·Deal with disrespectful attitudes and impossible behavior in your teen
·Set healthy limits and realistic consequences
·Be loving and caring while establishing rules
·Determine specific strategies to deal with problems both big and small
·Discover how boundaries make parenting teens better today!

Plus, check out Boundaries family collection of books dedicated to key areas of life – dating, marriage, raising young kids, and leadership. Workbooks and Spanish editions are also available.

Yes, Your Teen is Crazy

By Michael Bradley

An indispensable how-to manual for parents raising teenagers in today's crazy world. The fear-based techniques of the past no longer work, says the author, who advocates an entirely new approach for parenting the echo boomer generation.

En Español

Limites con los adolescentes

By Dr. John Townsend

En este libro, usted aprenderá las técnicas y habilidades sencillas que todo padre de adolecentes necesita conocer: saber cuándo decir que sí, cómo decir que no. O sea, cómo implementar y hacer cumplir límites saludables y amorosos para sus hijos adolescentes. Adopte una posición activa de una vez por todas en el mundo de su adolescente. ¡Relájese! Su cordura sobrevivirá a estos complicados años de la adolescencia, y de la misma forma sus hijos, siempre y cuando usted determine límites saludables que trabajen en beneficio de ellos y de usted mismo. Límites con los adolescentes le enseña cómo hacerlo. El Dr. John Townsend, autor de libros de éxitos en ventas y consejero, comparte su experimentada perspicacia y le brinda la guía que usted necesita a fin de ayudar a sus adolescentes a ser responsables con sus acciones, actitudes y emociones, así como también a adquirir una apreciación y un respeto más profundos, tanto por usted como por ellos mismos. Con sabiduría, el Dr. Townsend aplica principios de base espiritual para la tarea y el desafío de guiar a los hijos a través de su adolescencia. Nos muestra cómo: ? Enfrentar las actitudes irrespetuosas y la conducta imposible de su adolescente.

  • Establecer límites saludables y consecuencias realistas.
  •  Ser amorosos y afectuosos mientras se establecen reglas.
  • Determinar estrategias específicas para manejar problemas grandes y pequeños.

En este libro, usted aprenderá las técnicas y habilidades sencillas que todo padre de adolecentes necesita conocer: saber cuándo decir que sí, cómo decir que no. O sea, cómo implementar y hacer cumplir límites saludables y amorosos para sus hijos adolescentes.

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