Your baby is now a teenager, going through all of the teenage rites of passage. Between school, friends, God, and a social life, their lives seem to be a foreign country to you. The little boy or girl that once told you everything now has to be hounded to give you even a snippet of thought. Yet there are three things you should know about what is going on in your Christian teen’s head that will make your relationship a little better…
Your Teen Can His or Her Make Decisions
Many parents have a hard time letting their children grow up. Parents still think they need to make all the decisions and they worry incessantly that their children will make mistakes. However, mistakes are part of everyone’s lives. We have all made them from time to time.
It’s important for you to know that your teenager doesn’t want to make mistakes, but he or she does want to make decisions. It’s important that you tell your teen what you think, but also to know where to set limits. If it is not a life-altering decision, then you may just say that you think something will be a mistake and why. If it is life-altering, then maybe you do need to take the wheel. Just make sure your teen understand the reasoning behind your decisions. As a teenager, he or she is old enough to understand the complexity of decisions and “Because I said so” is no longer an acceptable answer.
It is important that you discuss certain things with your teenager. Yet it is also important to give him or her some control over choices. Your teen will thank you.
Your Teenager Wants Privacy
Privacy is a huge deal to teens. If there is one thing that teens say annoys them about their parents it is the invasion of privacy. Your teenager has his or her own relationships, lifestyle, and thoughts. Sometimes they prefer to be alone with those thoughts. Sometimes they prefer to be alone with those friends. Sometimes they like to be on their own at church.
There is a point when you need to let your teenager have his or her own life. Your teen just doesn’t want to go everywhere with you anymore. It is a harsh reality for many parents. Yet, it is okay to ask about where your teen is going and who is going with him or her. That is setting limits and boundaries.
Privacy is also difficult today with the dangers of the Internet. Banning the Internet from your home is not necessarily the best solution. Instead, your teen needs to surrender passwords and usernames so you can supervise. While your teen may desire privacy, it is important that he or she understand dangers and safety precautions in such a social setting. If your teen desires private talks with friends or to maintain a journal, suggest something that predators cannot access easily like the phone or a written journal.
Your Teenager Doesn’t Hate You
Okay, your teen sulks and sometimes acts like he or she doesn’t care about you or your feelings. Unfortunately that is the way that teens exert independence. Despite the Commandment to “Honor thy father and thy mother,” (Deut. 5:16) many teens seem to do no such thing. Does that mean your child hates you? Not at all. Your teen is stuck in a limbo between childhood and adulthood, so you’re not always going to know which “mode” he or she is in at any time. It causes friction and problems, but it does not stop your teen from loving you.
Your teen will talk a lot about respect, which is earned, not offered. It is important as a parent to set limits, but it is also important to offer freedoms as your child grows. Your teen probably wishes you could understand his or her needs better, and having some insight into what’s going on in teenager’s heads is important. Yet it does not mean that you stop being a parent, so let your child know a little about what’s going on in your head, too.
By Kelli Mahoney, About.com Guide