No one changes more in seven years than a teenager. Adolescence is characterized by inconsistency, one of the side effects of rapid change. I’m glad God isn’t a teenager, aren’t you? Think of adolescence as ten years of jeers, sneers, fears, and tears. It comes in with a pimple and goes out with a beard. Change is constant. In fact, adolescence tends to age parents about 20 years!
Here’s some basic advice for parents of teens. (1) Expect the change. Adolescence is the furnace where identity is formed. Kids are asking, “What will I be and become?” Those are hard questions. Give them space to find their own way. A good archer has to release an arrow before he/she can hit a target. Parenting is no different. (2) Next, be a good role model. If parents succeeded at that, and nothing else, most kids would turn out just fine. It’s unfortunate that most teens look to celebrities, or teachers, or athletes for good role models. Nothing wrong with that, but don’t you think that parents who are great role models are more influential? (3) Teach them values. Like the inferiority of money compared to relationships, or wisdom versus intelligence, or asking good questions versus spouting off opinions, or choosing consistency over impulsiveness. (4) Model a positive attitude. So many parents these days have bad attitudes, and they blame everything and everybody but themselves. Here’s something that’s almost always true: A parent with a bad attitude tends to raise a child with a bad attitude. Look around. There are examples everywhere. Don’t be one. (5) Finally, authentically love God. Could anything be more important for your teen to learn from you? I think not.
Someone defined good parenting as giving kids “roots that they might grow and wings that they might fly.” I would add, “...and dispensing plenty of love and authenticity along the way.” Now there are some marching orders for all of us that should last a lifetime! Can I get an amen?!