Tag Archive | teenagers

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.




It’s Nathan’s Big Day!

Today is my middle  child, Nathan’s, 13th birthday. Here he is a few years ago. And really, this is typical Nathan. Goofy and doesn’t care who knows it. (He put on his sister’s pink swim goggles so his eyes wouldn’t tear up while he was chopping an onion.)

This is Nathan just a couple of months ago. He really does have his serious moments, momentary though they are. Nathan is all boy. He loves to read and whack things with sticks. He loves swords and knives and bows. He’s taking a fencing class, and archery, and excelling at both. He hates math, or so he thinks. He has no idea what he wants to do with his life, since he thinks the only things he’s good at are reading and whacking things with sticks.

At one time he thought he wanted to be a missionary adventurer, traveling to exotic places and telling people about God. He loves learning about animals and buying books about animals, but when it comes to actually doing the dirty work of taking care of the animals? Not so much.

He loves God. He loves going to the youth group meetings at our church. He loves Greek mythology and learning Latin in school and studying ancient civilizations.

He’s smart and funny and cute (don’t tell him I said that). When his little sister was a baby and crying about something, he would try to cheer her up by telling her a joke or making funny faces at her. Now, if he hurts her, which is a frequent occurrence, he tries to get her to laugh about some other goofy thing he’s doing.

He tried to lie to me once. Didn’t make it past 10 minutes before he was confessing his crime.

He loves back scratches and Wii Lego Harry Potter. And food. He’ll eat about anything in many unusual combinations.

He’s lovable, irritating, sweet, goofy, moody, easy-going, a bit careful when it comes to trying new things.

He’s Nathan, and I love him to death. Happy 13th birthday, dude.

Today I’m thankful for:

25. Nathan

26. Another night when I don’t have to cook dinner

27. Middle school volcano experiments