Featured in the August, 2005 Issue of the Ashburn Baptist News
Skip the long lectures because he's not listening. If he has not heard you during the preceding twelve years it is now too late.
Do lots of listening but less talking. Your character is more important than your chatter.
The real secret of raising a teen is to be what you want him to become.
Caught between childhood and adulthood, he sometimes plays the child and other times performs like an adult. Not knowing which he is, he is subject to the influences of his peers who are also insecure. Inwardly he looks to his parents for anchoring.
The parent of a teen should be an exceedingly secure person not subject to pressure from his peers, the opinions of other parents, or from the pressures of his teen.
You should be very secure in your position about God's unchanging Word and all that it teaches. You should have solid moral values squarely based on the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, 7). You should have a strong biblical position on marriage, authority, the Lord's Church, baptism, keeping the Lord's Day and living a life separate from worldliness.
As you live by Bible-based convictions your youngster will waver between anger and awe, but will end up with gratitude.
Many teens are irresponsible. He is sometimes careless about his clothes, his room, his language, his school work. He has trouble being on time and sometimes does not show up. You can usually count on him not to be counted upon.
Instead of endless lectures, it is better to live a responsible life before the teen. Have a schedule and keep it, a budget and follow it. Be honest, honorable, trustworthy, frugal, respectful, neat, hardworking, patient, poised, and temperate. Give him the gift of at least one role model in a world that is coming unglued (I Corinthians 11:1).
Many a teen talks loud, plays loud, argues loud, closes doors loud, drives the car loud and plays music loud. He values volume. Whether this is a cover for his insecurity or a mask for his irresponsibility he certainly has not yet learned that there is strength in quietness (Isaiah 30:15). The parent of a teen should cultivate quietness. A screaming match between parent and teen is pathetic. If the teen is making too much noise, then subtract from it with your own calmness. My wife, raised on a Minnesota farm, reminds me that â€œan empty wagon makes the most noise,â€ and as the teen takes on the load of life's responsibilities he will quiet down.
A teen facing a future of nuclear war, the threat of AIDS and the collapse of the international economy may become a hostile individual. Insecurity breeds shyness and unfriendliness. Sadly, many a teen walls himself in not showing friendliness to family members, to older folk or to little children. Bored in his loneliness he becomes even more hostile and sometimes even suicidal.
Perhaps one of the greatest gifts a parent may give to to his growing youngster is the role modeling of a cheerful friendliness to all. Friendliness is like an open flower that brings beauty to life. As your teen sees you being friendly to others he will crawl out of his hole of hostility and shyness and learn to be friendly to others only to joyously discover that they will be friendly to him (Proverbs 18:24).
Immaturity is normal for a teen. It is expected that he will sometimes pout and sometimes respond in a juvenile way. Though he likes to think he has left childhood behind, he is still on his way to adulthood and needs the example of parents in order to achieve the goal.
The real problem is not when parents have teens, but when teens have teen-type parents. A mature person has worthy life goal, is not improperly dependent on others and lives unselfishly. He demonstrates initiative generosity, exuberance and adaptability. He has left the dream world of adolescence and lives in the real world of adulthood, which is described in the Word of God (I Corinthians 13:11).
The way to raise a teen is being what you want him to become. What he sees will help more than what he hears.