Archive for the ‘ Parenting Teens ’ Category

Getting Inside Your Christian Teen’s Head

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.

Source: 

By , About.com Guide

Tips for Christian Dating

There is all kinds of advice out there about dating today, but a lot of it is about dating in the world rather than Christian dating. Christians need to have a different attitude toward dating. However, even among Christians there are differences as to whether you should or should not date. The choice is up to your and your parents, but Christian teens should still know God’s perspective on dating.

Non-Christians have a different perspective on dating. You see the magazines, TV shows, and movies that tell you how you’re young, and you should date a lot of people before you get married. You see certain “role models” jumping from one dating relationship to another.

Yet God has more in store for you than just jumping from one relationship to another. He is clear on whom you should date and why you should date. When it comes to Christian dating, you live according to a different standard – God’s. Yet it’s not just about following the rules. There are some solid reasons why God asks us to live a certain way, and dating is no different.

Why Should Christian Teens Date (Or Not Date)?

While most people have differing opinions about dating, it is one area of the Bible where there is not a lot of information. However, Christian teens can get some idea of God’s expectations from certain scripture verses:

Genesis 2:24 (King James Version)

24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Proverbs 4:23 (King James Version)

23Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (King James Version)

4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

These three scriptures give insight into the Christian dating life. We need to realize that God means for us to meet the ONE person that we are meant to marry. According to Genesis, a man will leave home to marry one women to become one flesh. You do not need to date a lot of people – just the right one.

Also, Christian teens need to guard their hearts. The word “love” is thrown around with little thought. Yet, we often live for love. We live for God’s love first and foremost, but we also live for the love of others. While there are many definitions of love, 1Corinthians tells us how God defines love.

It is love that should drive Christian teens to date, but it should not be the shallow version of love. When you date it should be taken seriously. You should know the person you are dating and know their beliefs.

You should check your potential boyfriend against the values listed in 1 Corinthians. Ask yourself if the two of you are patient and kind to one another. Are you envious of one another? Do you boast about one another or to each other? Go through the characteristics to measure your relationship.

Only Date Believers

God is pretty picky on this one, and the Bible makes this issue very clear.

Deuteronomy 7:3 (King James Version)

3Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

2 Corinthians 6:14 (King James Version)

14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

The Bible seriously warns us about dating non-Christians. While you may not be looking at marrying anyone at the moment, it should always be in the back of your head. Why get involved emotionally with someone that you should not marry? This does not mean you cannot be friends with that person, but you should not date them.

This also means that you should avoid “missionary dating,” which is dating a non-believer in the hopes that you can convert him or her. Your intentions may be noble, but the relationships rarely work out. Some Christians have even gotten married to non-believers, hoping that they can convert their spouse, but often the relationships end up in disaster.

So make sure you are only dating those who share your beliefs. Otherwise you may find that your relationship is a struggle rather than a joy.

Be careful of recreational dating, where you date for the sake of dating. God calls us to love one another, but the scripture is clear that He asks us to be careful. While love is a beautiful thing, the breaking off of relationships is hard. There is a reason they call it a “broken heart.” God understands the power in love and the damage a broken heart can do. This is why it is important for Christian teens to really pray, know their hearts, and listen to God when they decide to date.

Source:  By Kelli Mahoney, About.com Guide

When Your Christian Teen Starts Dating

Christian teens are like any other adolescent. When they start to grow up, they also start to form attachments to members of the opposite sex. While most parents would love their children to stay little forever, eventually the issue of dating will come up. Even though your teenager is a Christian, it does not necessarily mean he or she can make dating decisions without guidance. Here is some advice as your child enters into this new experience:

Know God’s Will

According to the Bible, it is God’s will that people fall in love and get married (1 Corinthians 7:1-7). Where parents and teens tend to disagree is the method of getting to that wedding day. However parents do need to keep in mind that falling in love is part of God’s plan.

Know What You Believe About Dating

There is a group of Christians that does not believe teens should be dating at all, and there are people on the other side that believe dating is how you know the right person when he or she comes along. Most parents, though, fall between the two opposites. They believe that Christian teens should date responsibly and not just date for the sake of dating. Knowing where you fall in the spectrum will help you set rules later.

Talk to Your Teen About Dating

This is one of the most difficult and often overlooked steps by parents, yet it is one of the most important parts of leading your Christian teen down the right path. While neither one of you may feel totally comfortable talking about dating, sex, temptation, or feelings, it is important that your teen understands your perspective. It is also important that you listen to your child when he or she speaks. When the two of you understand each other, trust and openness is built up. It forms better relationships.

Have Ground Rules

As you start to notice your teen’s growing interest in members of the opposite sex you may want to start thinking about the rules you want to set. Be sure to not just se the rules, but also explain where the ground rules come from. Also, be willing to discuss some exceptions to the rules, like a later curfew when your teen goes to a school dance. Be sure to allow your teen to have some input on your rules so that he or she feels heard. Teens who feel they have some say over the rules usually follow them much better.

Take a Deep Breath

Many parents of Christian teens feel some anxiety when their teen goes off on a first date. It’s okay. If you trust your teen to date, then you need to let go a little bit. Try to do things that get your mind off of the date. Read. See a movie. If it helps, offer your teenager a cell phone so he or she can call you if needed. As time goes on you may not like the dating, but you will get used to it.

Source:  Kelli Mahoney, About.com Guide

Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

It might be difficult for some parents to read through, but here’s a top ten list that I’ve been wanting to write for a while. Over the next several days I’ll be expanding on each of these in succession, but for now, here is my top ten mistakes Christian parents of teens make:

10. Not spending time with your teen.
A lot of parents make the mistake of not spending time with their teens because they assume their teens don’t want to spend time with them! While that’s true in some contexts, teens still want and need “chunks” of one-on-one time with parents. Despite the fact that teens are transitioning into more independence and often carry a “I don’t need/want you around” attitude, they are longing for the securing and grounding that comes from consistent quality time.
Going for walks together, grabbing a coffee in order to “catch up,” going to the movies together, etc., all all simple investments that teens secretly want and look forward to. When you don’t carve out time to spend with your teen, you’re communicating that you’re not interested in them, and they internalize that message, consciously or unconsciously.

9. Letting your teen’s activities take top priority for your family.
The number of parents who wrap their lives/schedules around their teen’s activities is mind-boggling to me. I honestly just don’t get it. I know many parents want to provide their children with experiences and opportunities they never had growing up, but something’s gone wrong with our understanding of family and parenting when our teen’s wants/”needs” are allowed to overwhelm the family’s day-to-day routines.
Parents need to prioritize investing in their relationship with God (individually and as a couple), themselves and each other, but sadly all of these are often neglected in the name of “helping the kids get ahead.” “Don’t let the youth sports cartel run your life,” says Jen singer, author of You’re A Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren’t So Bad Either). I can’t think of many good reasons why families can’t limit teens to one major sport/extra-curricular activity per season. Not only will a frenetic schedule slowly grind down your entire family of time, you’ll be teaching your teen that “the good life” is a hyper-active one. That doesn’t align itself to Jesus’ teaching as it relates to the healthy rhythms of prayer, Sabbath, and down-time, all of which are critical to the larger Christian task of “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

8. Spoiling your teen.
We are all tempted to think that loving our kids means doing all we can to ensure they have all the opportunities and things we didn’t have growing up. This is a terrible assumption to make. It leads to an enormous amount of self-important, petty, and ungrateful kids. A lot of the time parents are well-intentioned in our spoiling, but our continual stream of money and stuff causes teens to never be satisfied and always wanting more. Your teen doesn’t need another piece of crap, what he needs is time and attention from you (that’s one expression of spoiling that actually benefits your teen!).
There are two things that can really set you back in life if we get them too early:
a. Access to too much money.
b. Access to too many opportunities.
Parents need to recognize they’re doing their teens a disservice by spoiling them in either of these ways. Save the spoiling for the grandkids.

7. Permissive parenting.
“Whatever” — It’s not just for teens anymore! The devil-may-care ambivalence that once defined the teenage subculture has now taken root as parents shrug their shoulders, ask, “What can you do?” and let their teens “figure things out for themselves.” I think permissive parenting (i.e., providing little direction, limits, and consequences) is on the rise because many parents don’t know how to dialogue with and discipline their children. Maybe parents don’t have any limits of boundaries within their own life, so they don’t know how to communicate the value of these to their teen. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to, because their own self-esteem is too tied up in their child’s perception of them, and they couldn’t handle having their teen get angry at them for actually trying to parent. Maybe it’s because many parents feel so overwhelmed with their own issues, they can hardly think of pouring more energy into a (potentially) taxing struggle or point of contention.
Whatever the reason, permissive parenting is completely irreconcilable with a Christian worldview. I certainly do not advocate authoritarian parenting styles, but if we practice a permission parenting style we’re abdicating our God-given responsibility to provide guidance, nurture, limits, discipline and consequences to our teen (all of which actually help our teen flourish long-term).

6. Trying to be your teen’s best friend.
Your teen doesn’t need another friend (they have plenty); they need a parent. Even through their teens, your child needs a dependable, confident, godly authority figure in their life. As parents we are called to provide a relational context characterized by wisdom, protection, love, support, and empowerment. As Christian parents we’re called to bring God’s flourishing rule into our family’s life. That can’t happen if we’re busy trying to befriend our teen. Trying to be your teen’s friend actually cheats them out of having these things in their lives.
Sometimes parents think that a strong relationship with their teen means having a strong friendship—but there’s a fine line that shouldn’t be crossed. You should be friendly to your teen but you shouldn’t be your teen’s friend. They have lots of friends, they only have one or two parents—so be the parent your teen needs you to be.

5. Holding low expectations for your teen.
Johann Goethe once wrote, “Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat as man as he can and should be, and he become as he can and should be.” All of us rise to the unconcious level of expectation we set for ourselves and perceive from others. During the teenage years, it’s especially important to slowly put to death the perception that your teen is still “a kid.” They are emerging leaders, and if you engage them as such, you will find that over time, they unconsciously take on this mantle for themselves. Yes, your teen can be moody, self-absorbed, irresponsible, etc., but your teen can also be brilliant, creative, selfless, and mature. Treating them like “kids” will reinforce the former; treating them as emerging leaders will reinforce the latter.
For an example of how the this difference in perspective plays out, I’ve written an article entitled “The Future of an Illusion” which is available as a free download from http://www.meredisciple.com (in the Free Downloads section). It specifically looks at my commitment to be involved in “emerging church ministry” as opposed to “youth ministry,” and it you may find some principles within it helpful.

4. Not prioritizing youth group/church involvement.
This one is one of my personal pet peeves (but not just because this is my professional gig). I simply do not understand parents who expect and want their kids to have a dynamic, flourishing faith, and yet don’t move heaven and earth to get them connected to both a youth group and local church.
I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret: no teenager can thrive in their faith without these two support mechanisms. I’m not saying a strong youth group and church community is all they need, but what I am saying that you can have everything else you think your teen needs, but without these two things, don’t expect to have a spiritually healthy and mature teen. Maybe there are teens out there who defy this claim, but honestly, I can’t think of one out of my own experience. As a parent, youth group and church involvement should be a non-negotiable part of your teen’s life, and that means they take priority over homework (do it the night before), sports, or any other extra-curricular commitments.
Don’t be the parent who is soft on these two commitments, but pushes their kid in schooling, sports, etc. In general, what you sow into determines what you reap; if you want to reap a teenager who has a genuine, flourishing faith, don’t expect that to happen if you’re ok with their commitment to youth group/church to be casual and half-hearted.

3. Outsourcing your teen’s spiritual formation.
While youth group and church is very important, another mistake I see Christian parents make is assuming them can completely outsource the spiritual development of their child to these two things. I see the same pattern when it comes to Christian education: parents sometimes choose to send their children/teens to Christian schools, because by doing so they think they’ve done their parental duty to raise their child in a godly way.
As a parent–and especially if you are a Christian yourself–YOU are THE key spiritual role model and mentor for your teen. And that isn’t “if you want to be” either–that’s the way it is. Ultimately, you are charged with teaching and modelling to your teen what follow Jesus means, and while church, youth groups, Christian schools can be a support to that end, they are only that: support mechanisms.
Read Deuteronomy 6 for an overview of what God expects from parents as it relates to the spiritual nurture and development of their children. (Hint: it’s doesn’t say, “Hand them off to the youth pastor and bring them to church on Sunday.”)

2. Not expressing genuine love and like to your teen.
It’s sad that I have to write this one at all, but I’m convinced very few Christian parents actually express genuine love and “like” to their teen. It can become easy for parents to only see how their teen is irresponsible, failing, immature, etc., and become a harping voice instead of an encouraging, empowering one.
Do you intentially set aside time to tell your teen how much you love and admire them? Do you write letters of encouragement to them? Do you have “date nights” where you spend time together and share with them the things you see in them that you are proud of?
Your teen won’t ask you for it, so don’t wait for an invitation. Everyday say something encouraging to your teen that builds them up (they get enough criticism as it is!). Pray everyday for them and ask God to help you become one of the core people in your teen’s life that He uses to affirm them.

1. Expecting your teen to have a devotion to God that you are not cultivating within yourself.
When I talk to Christian parents, it’s obvious that they want their teen to have a thriving, dynamic, genuine, life-giving faith. What isn’t so clear, however, is whether that parent has one themselves. When it comes to the Christian faith, most of the time what we learn is caught and not taught. This means that even if you have the “right answers” as a parent, if you’re own spiritual walk with God is pathetic and stilted, your teen will unconciously follow suit. Every day you are teaching your teach (explicitely and implicitely) what discipleship to Jesus looks like “in the flesh.”
What are they catching from you? Are you cultivating a deep and mature relationship with God personally, or is your Christian parenting style a Christianized version of “do as I say, not as I do”?
While having a healthy and maturing discipleship walk as a parent does not garauntee your teen will follow in your footsteps, expecting your teen to have a maturing faith while you follow Jesus “from a distance” is an enormous mistake.
You are a Christian before you are a Christian parent (or any other role). Get real with God, share your own struggles and hypocrisy with your entire family, and maybe then God will begin to use your example in a positive and powerful way.

Source: Author/Pastor Jeff Strong http://meredisciple.com/blog/?p=296