Tag Archive | parenting teens

Help! I Have A Teenager!

Today’s post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. I write for 10 minutes, give or take, without any heavy editing, on a one-word prompt. Today’s prompt is “teenagers.”

People tend to think that parenting teenagers is pretty scary. It can be, if you’re not prepared for what you might encounter.


For me, preparation for parenting teens started when they were born.

I mean, it makes sense, doesn’t it? If you are a constant source of rules and punishment and harshness when they are little, the rebellion they are going to feel when they are beginning to spread their wings and figure out what they are capable of will be greater. But if you are there to build a relationship with them, give them solid boundaries and are a safe place for them to process, then the likelihood of constant turmoil in your household will be diminished.

OK, stop right there. I’m going to make a big statement right now.

There are no guarantees. Your kids’ decisions are their decisions. All the best parenting you think you’re doing may not be enough to keep them from making stupid and life-altering choices.

Just like us, our kids are endowed by their Creator with free will. So don’t think that if your child starts down a path of destruction that the fault is yours. If you have been doing the best you can and leaving the results to God, then you have a clear conscience. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes.

Maybe I let me baby cry in his crib too long when I was wanting him to take a nap. Maybe that’s why he chose to walk away from a path of faith.


Maybe the time I yelled at my daughter for not doing something I had asked her to do made her try to find friends who would tell her what she wanted to hear, but ultimately led her into a destructive lifestyle.

We can second guess ourselves all day long, but in the end, we do our best to love our kids and bring them up to love and serve the Lord, but they ultimately have to decide how they want to live.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned over the past couple of years is that prayer is absolutely essential. And so is community. If my kids make bad choices, I can’t carry the burden of their behavior. To be able to share what’s going on in vulnerability and safety with close friends is life giving instead of life draining. I only have one teenager left in my house. In three and a half years, she’ll be 20. It’s been quite a roller-coaster ride, but God has been faithful as always.

FledgeI recommend a few books for those of you in the throes of raising teens.

  1. Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind, by Brenda Yoder. This book was definitely life giving to me as Yoder said, “We are not called to raise godly children, we are called to be godly parents.”
  2. Parenting Today’s Adolescent: Helping Your Child Avoid the Traps of the Preteen and Teen Yearsby Dennis and Barbara Rainey. It’s been many years since I read this book (it was written in 2002), but from what I remember about it, the principles were solid, #1 being have a close relationship with God yourself. Seems to echo the “be a godly parent” quote from above.
  3. Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teensby Paul David Tripp. Again, it’s been many years since I read this book written in 2001, and I can’t find my copy (I probably loaned it out to some parent of teens), but I remember most that Tripp talked about not being afraid. Of using every opportunity you have with your kids to build relationship. I do hesitate a bit on recommending something with a subtitle like “a biblical guide,” but I don’t remember this book being a “do this and get that” type of thing.

For me, the bottom line is that we are trusting God to keep writing our kids’ stories—and our stories as well. Our goal should be heart change, not behavior change, and only God can change hearts.




The Parenting Trap

Here’s the hard truth. Are you ready to hear it? It’s not going to be popular or sugar-coated or comfortable. It’s a trap many parents walk into with the best of intentions, but ignorance of the gospel. Ready? Here it is:

12-2-03You can do everything according to all the experts in your parenting journey, and your kids could still walk away from Jesus.

♦ Stay together as a couple with love and happiness in your household. check

♦ Go to church as a family, build a firm foundation of faith. check

♦ Pray together, both as a couple and as a family. check

♦ Encourage openness, ask the hard questions, be there for them emotionally. check

♦ Provide things for them, but don’t over indulge. Help them learn the value of work and study. check

♦ Give lots of physical affection and words of affirmation. Let them know they are always loved. Show grace, yet speak truth. check

♦ Give them both an anchor and wings. check

Fact of the matter is, no matter what you do right, or what you do wrong; no matter how hard you pray or how close you feel your relationship is, your children still have the choice to go their own way.IMG_6263

It’s heartbreaking.

That’s how God feels all the time. He so loved the world that He gave His only Son to restore the broken relationships. And still people argue that He doesn’t even exist. They insist that they’re better off without Him. They want to do their own thing without restrictions. Without consequences. Without fellowship with God.

It’s devastating.

And yet He loves His children, rebellious or not, and we love ours. He refuses to give up on them, constantly seeking to woo them back. And we don’t give up on ours.

Love them well. I haven’t yet figured out what that looks like, but I know part of it is not throwing their sin in their face. I know it means maintaining a relationship and speaking truth in love. I know it means letting them know that they are loved no matter what they have done, simply because they are my children.

“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b, NIV.)

fullsizeoutput_193On this earth, our nights of weeping are not yet done. But the promise is this: rejoicing comes in the morning. If I didn’t believe that, I would curl up and die.

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4, NIV.)

If loving wayward children well can reflect the deep, deep love God has for them, then I will keep loving mine, praying for that day of repentance.

I could look back and say, “We should have made sure they were owning their own faith. We should have listened better. We shouldn’t have let them hang out with that person. We should have kept a better eye. We shoulda, shoulda, shoulda.”

Don’t fall into that parenting trap. Do the best you can, and surrender your children to Jesus. And pray, pray, pray.

Their salvation is not your burden.

Their decisions are not a reflection of your worth.IMG_0780

Much as I want my children’s lives to look like the pretty postcard I pictured when they were born, it’s not about me, and I’m not in control.

No matter the pain and heartache I experience with every decision that rejects Jesus, God is still good.

Through my tears I won’t fall into the trap that says I blew it somewhere along the line; I should have been a better mother.

After all, it’s not about me, it’s about Jesus. It’s always about Jesus.

Repeat After Me: 5 Things To Keep Reminding Myself

little_heartsWhen my eldest was born, I found a quote that I wrote in his baby book: Having a child is like having a piece of your heart walking around outside your body. And boy does it hurt. I have good kids. They haven’t rebelled, they get good grades, they are respectful to us and others, we have a good relationship with them all. But it still hurts to see my almost-an-adult son make decisions contrary to our advice simply because he likes to beat his own head against a wall in order to find out that, hey, that actually does hurt.

So, I have to keep reminding myself of a few things:

1. My son is not me. He will not make the decisions I would make. He will not follow the path I would follow, nor will he follow the path I want him to take. And I have to be alright with that, or it will tear us apart.

2. Don’t worry! I keep telling my son I’m not worrying exactly, I’m just concerned. Semantics, that’s all that is. I have this totally unfounded fear that he’s going to do something to derail his future. He tells me to trust him. I have in the past, so why is it so much harder to do now that he’s got one foot out the door?

3. Keep your hands to yourself. Whatever I do, I need to let him become the man God has made him to be. I stopped making his lunch years ago, I need to stop trying to manipulate things in his life now. He will resent me for it. He is not a baby anymore.

4. Be thankful for the time you get. These days, my son is gone more than he’s here. He has a new girlfriend. He has a job. He still has classes both at his high school and at the nearby college. And I miss him, frankly. We knew this time was going to come, and I thought I was maybe a little bit prepared, but I wasn’t. I’m not. But it will be worse when he actually moves out, possibly out of state, at the very least out of the house. I need to treat this as a year of preparation for the real thing.


5. God is in control. No matter what decisions my son makes, God is ultimately in control of his life. If he misses deadlines for college applications, or isn’t successful in being appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy, or even decides not to go to college, his life will not be “ruined.” It might not look like we hoped it would look, but God is firmly, ultimately, sovereignly in control.

I keep having to remind myself of these things, and what I said here about how I should be parenting him. Letting go of a piece of my heart isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. It’s the right thing to do.


illustration from theroadtocrazy.blogspot.com

8 Life Skills I Want My Senior To Have Before He Leaves My House (#5-8)

Last week I talked about the first 4 of 8 skills I wanted to make sure my son possesses before he leaves home. You can read that here. Here are the last 4, as promised.

clip-art-telephone-960170#5 Making phone calls to get information or make connections

I feel like a lot of teens struggle with this area. Maybe it’s just boys, but making phone calls seems to be a lost art. When Justin was applying for the job he has now at Chick-fil-A, he was told to talk to them again once he turned 16. The day after his birthday, I made him call the hiring manager. He didn’t want to be pushy; I told him he was showing initiative. With this whole Academy application deal, he has had to make calls to several different people. He hasn’t wanted to, but he’s done it. And he’s done very well with sounding professional. I think the more he does it, the easier it will be. There are still at least 3 other people I would like him to call to get advice, but I’m letting him take the lead on those. So far, he’s not leaning that way.

job_interview#6 Going on a job interview
Last week, a friend of mine asked me to help her 18-year-old daughter prepare for an upcoming job interview. We set up a mock interview one morning where the daughter would come to my house as if she were going to a real interview. I prepared real questions, used an assumed name and arranged for my husband to call me part way through as an interruption. Everything went well and I gave her feedback after it was all over. Yesterday, she told me she got the job! When my son was applying for his job with Chick-fil-A, we talked him through what to expect and went with him since he was a minor. But he was on his own for the impression he made. If your child hasn’t yet held a job, I highly recommend prepping him or her in advance. It’s gotta happen sometime.

preaching#7 Evaluating a church for biblical accuracy
Having been brought up in the church, attended small-group Bible studies and heard the truth taught in his home all his life, my son should be well prepared to find a truth-filled church. But we know that the devil is sneaky and can cause a lie to sound like the truth. Helping my son discern truth from lie is priority to us.


returns#8 Dealing with businesses
Not only does adulthood mean making decisions for yourself, it means dealing with people who might not always be easy to deal with. We started out easy—having our kids order their own meals from the server at restaurants when we went out as a family. Getting them talking to strangers in a safe environment helps prepare them to talk to clerks or potential bosses on their own. If you are not satisfied with a product you purchased, you need to let the business know. Making purchases, returning items, calling ahead to see if a store has something particular you’re looking for, these are all skills kids need to learn before they leave home.

I know there are plenty more ideas out there. What do skills do you want your children to have before they venture out on their own?

images from gifpic.com; roundpulse.com; Acts29today.com; wikihow.com

5 Tips For Parenting Your Senior

IMG_2877I’m just starting this new blog on traveling the senior-year journey with my son. I remember praying that Jesus would return before he started high school because I was—albeit jokingly—terrified of what he would encounter in {shudder} high school. And now here he is, entering his senior year.

Yes, there have been pot holes and debris in the road, but I must say the path has been fairly smooth so far, thank the Lord. And now the fun of his last year at home begins. I don’t in any way, shape or form pretend to know it all. But I have some good friends that have walked this path before me, and I will happily be gleaning what I can from them as the year progresses. Following are just a few things that I’ve learned so far.

#1. Give Him Freedom Within Bounds.

He really is a big boy (6’1 1/4″ of big). He has a job. He is going to be the vice wing commander of his 500+ cadet AFJROTC unit in the fall. He’s a part of a smaller group of guys from within his larger youth group who study the Bible and talk about issues. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t do drugs. He wants to be a career Air Force officer. He really can be trusted. I need to back off. He’s not a toddler anymore.

#2. Be There For Him.

He doesn’t talk a lot, but when he does, both his father and I need to be available for him, even if it’s late at night. If he comes into the room where I’m sitting, I need to put down what I’m doing and be ready to listen. Sometimes he’ll talk, sometimes he won’t, but he needs to know we’re there for him.

3. Keep The Questions To A Minimum Unless He Invites Them.

My son hates for me to ask questions. I usually get one-word answers, which drives me batty. “How was school today?” gets me, “Fine.” “What did you do?” gets me “Stuff.” That’s how it’s been since freshman year. Now it’s said with a little grin. I still ask, but I don’t dig.

4. Think The Best Of Him.

If I’m always expecting that my teens are going to get in trouble, then I’m doing them a disservice. They are smart, polite, do well in school and have a relationship with Jesus. Sure, they argue sometimes and frustrate me, but this senior boy knows what he wants to do and he’s not out making trouble. If I treat him like a responsible adult, he’s more likely to act like one.

5. Pray Without Ceasing.

There is never a moment in time when I should think, “It’s all good.” During this year, there are going to be myriad of decisions both large and small that he’s going to need to make. Leaning on the Everlasting Arms is the only way he’s going to survive. He knows he’s capable; I want him to know he’s reliant on Jesus. As am I.

What other advice would you give?