Raising teenagers is like trying to tame a wild animal, at least, so I’m told. I find it ironic that I’m going to attempt to equip parents on how to be a parent to teens, even though I don’t have a teenager and am a long way from having one. (10 years) So while I’ll acknowledge that irony, I will still pursue this effort because it is needed. As a theme within this blog, I ascribe to know very little, if anything at all, but rather will attempt to point you to someone who does, namely Jesus.
Today’s post comes from Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family is global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive. They provide help and resources for couples to build healthy marriages that reflect God’s design, and for parents to raise their children according to morals and values grounded in biblical principles. They have a “teen” section on their site that is full of articles and tips to help parents navigate the murky waters of raising teenagers.
I’ll do my best to highlight the ones that I find most helpful, practical, or encouraging. This series is titled, “Tips for Parenting Teens.” It is a 6 article series with very practical tips on parenting teens. The first article is an overview of the series and then each following article highlights a different aspect of parenting teens. Instead of breaking this post into 6 separate posts, I’ve linked each of the 5 main articles below, not including the overview. I will later highlight specific sections of some of these articles in a later post, but not all 5.
Articles in the Series
While I don’t have experience being a parent to teenagers, I do have experience being a parent. I also have experience working with teenagers. That doesn’t me an expert, just a student of both, just like you. A reoccurring statement I hope you notice is the idea of working intentionally, not perfectly. Parents must be intentional. Leaders must be intentional. Do not get discouraged if you are not perfect, but strive to be intentional. Not perfectly, but intentionally.
Tips for Parenting Teens
An old Ozark Mountain “hillbilly” friend shared some wisdom with my dad a few years ago: “The older I get, the less I know for sure!” That’s how I felt when I was raising my teen girls. I couldn’t figure out the intricacies of dad-and-daughter psychology. But I worked and prayed and cried over it more than I care to remember!
Don’t get me wrong: My daughters were my pride and joy, and I tried every way I could to be the perfect dad. But, man, how many times I failed! I was clumsy and always seemed to be “saying it wrong.” I give God and their mom all the credit for the amazing, godly young ladies they were and are today.
During those turbulent and often disillusioning days, all I knew to do was spend time with my girls. Fortunately, that turned out to be the key to the relationship I wanted so badly.
My connecting point with daughter Courtney was on her early morning jogs. She wanted to run three to six miles at 6:15 A.M., so we hit the pavement together. I had to follow her rules, though:
- We ran at her pace.
- She did all the talking.
- I did all the listening.
When I tried to change the pace (a mistake I only made once) or tried to give unsolicited advice (probably more than once), I was quickly corrected and reminded of “the rules.”
I still look back on those early morning “joggers” as some of the most important hours I’ll ever spend in my life. That’s when I learned how vital it is to walk (or run) alongside our teens.