We have all heard horrible stories about out of control teenagers–or even other Moms complaining about the “teenage years”. I have also heard the “we choose our battles” phrase far too much. Honestly, the only way to raise a teenager is HANDS ON. Parents must be involved in what is going on in their children’s lives. We can never assume that they will always make the right choice or that they have outgrown the need for parental input.
My oldest daughter is 18 and a fabulous young woman. I am honored to be her Mother. From my experience raising a teenager, I have seen a few mistakes that many well intentioned parents make–without even realizing it!
8 Mistakes Many Parents Make with their Teenagers
1. Lack of Communication. It is vital that parents communicate with their children. Teenagers are no exception–if anything, it is even MORE important to keep the lines of communication open. We should be asking them how their day was, what’s wrong, how are you doing, how can I pray for you, do you need to talk, etc. Open ended questions are very important.
Another side of communication is training conversations. These take place at various points in life. For instance, after a questionable movie, ask important, open-ended questions about the moral compass, and main character choices of the movie and so on. Another opportunity for training conversations is when they make poor choices, choose bad friends, etc. Any and every opportunity given should be utilized.
Yes, they may roll their eyes, but not only will they thank you later in life, they will secretly love you for it!
On the flip side; do not be afraid to admit when you screw up, and have to tell your kids that you made a mistake and are sorry for it. We are not perfect, and when we use this kind of honest and repentive communication, it goes a long way with them! It also teaches them to know how to admit when they are wrong!
Communication SCREAMS “I love you”!
2. “Just a Phase” Mentality. I am a strong adversary to this thought process. Attitude is never a “phase”. It is disrespectful and should be disciplined accordingly. Poor music choices and revealing clothing are not “phases”, they are children screaming to be parented! We are to TRAIN our children in the way they should go…Lazy, apathetic parenting is why we have the public school violence and lack of juvenile respect towards adults in this society.
3. Too Trusting v/s Too Nosy. There is a delicate balance with teenagers. We do need to be completely involved in their lives. However, we do not need to invade every aspect of their privacy–UNLESS there is suspicion of dangerous choices, lying, etc. Otherwise, we need to build a trusting relationship with open and honest communication to prevent huge problems. Teenagers WILL make mistakes. However, if we are in constant communication with them, they will be less likely to be willing to harm that relationship.
My daughter tells me she can hear my voice when she is tempted to do wrong. That must mean I am doing something right! LOL!
4. Poor Listener. Teenagers are people too. They need to feel like we care about what they have to say and how they feel about things. Make eye contact when talking and respond as appropriate. Trying to have a deep conversation while driving with them is not really listening. Take him/her to lunch or find a way to sit and really listen–often! Their feelings DO matter and should always be taken into consideration.
5. Lack of Validation, Affirmation and Praise. We live in a crazy world that beats you down via music, media, peers and self doubts. We need to be their biggest cheerleader and loudest advocate. We need to tell them daily that they rock, they are pretty/handsome, smart, funny, amazing, one of a kind, important to us, loved, a super star, fabulous, good job, well done, you can do it, I believe in you, and any and all positive things we can think of–all the time–every day! Seriously.
Another side of this is making sure we validate their feelings and convictions. They are young adults and God has many things to say to them and use them to do!
Validate, Affirm, Praise…REPEAT!
6. Allowing Them to Teach Themselves How to Live. A popular phrase I hear among parents is; “we have to choose our battles…” Huh? Everything about raising a teenager in today’s world IS a battle! We need to be diligent, hands on, with passion and interest in every aspect of their lives, choices and relationships. Being a parent is far more than providing food, shelter and clothing for our children. It is training them to live moral, disciplined lives as adults so that they can be productive, and hopefully spread the love of Christ through the testimony of their lives.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6
They cannot “teach themselves”. That is not even a Biblical mentality. WE are responsible for training them and we will give an account one day before God as to how we trained up His precious gifts. Let’s make sure that we are being the kind Mother (parent) that God desires for us to be–not society!
Something to think about: For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. – 2 Corinthians 5:10
7. Lack of Relationship. Life can get too busy and schedules downright out of hand. Quality time with our kids is one of the most important investments we can ever make. A relationship does not “just happen”, it must be cultivated, nurtured and prioritized. We cannot avoid our teenagers simply because we cannot relate or understand them. We must make every effort to spend as much quality time as possible with them–doing things together, playing, talking, activities, etc. However, sitting and watching a movie should not be the only form of quality time. Honestly, it really does not equate to “quality time”. Something that involves communication is a better choice when building and maintaining relationship.
8. Not Praying Enough! Never underestimate the power of prayer! It is more powerful than many people think! Pray for every aspect of your children’s lives; choices, relationships, spiritual growth, future, purity, their future husband/wife, and so on. If you can think it, you should pray it!
The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]. – James 5:16b (amp)
In closing, if you see that you are making even one of these mistakes in raising your teenager, stop! It is never too late to make a change for the better. The most important thing you can do is raise your children to fear the Lord, love others, forgive and live disciplined lives. This can only be done by DOing. It will not happen on its own.
Think of it this way, at the end of your days; you will not think on the house you built, the things you acquired, the career you succeeded at, the money you saved or the places you traveled. You will, however, think about the life you poured–or did not pour into your children’s lives. You will think about the loved ones at your side–or not at your side. Build a healthy foundation now, and I believe with all my heart you WILL not only WANT to but WILL hear…
Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied); and her husband boasts of and praises her, saying, Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all. Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised! Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates of the city! – Proverbs 31:28-31 (amp)
Copyright © Lara Velez, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved
Amen!!! I am so glad to have read this!! As a mom of teenagers I see too many parents (Christian and non Christian alike), taking a hands-off approach to parenting their teenager. I think in so many cases it’s because they are scared of their kids rebelling and/or it is more difficult in this stage than when they were younger. Because parents seem to have more discretionary time when their kids are teens they assume their responsibility to parent needs to lesson. If anything, the need for parent to have flexibility and availability during this time of life is vital! Thank you for raising all these issues!
Well said! I have a 10 and 12 year old, and this applies to ALL ages! Raising godly kids is a lot of work…but well worth all of the effort! I want to scream when I hear parents use some of the catch phrases that you mentioned…those phrases are just worldly-accepted ways to give up!
I am a housewife and mom of two girls one is 11 and the other 13. We have a beautiful family of 4 including my husband a great man who fears and love God. Recently my 13 years old gifted child is being receiving text messages to my cell phone from a friend at school who she find cute and like . My daughter knows that she is not allow to date until she is older (18) . I being letting her text him back a couple of time but recently they started saying love you and babe to each other via text. I confronted my daughter and prohibited the testing for a couple of days I also texted the kid by telling him very courteous but firm that my daughter is not allowed to date until she is older and I would like them to refrain from talking to each other in any other way than as friends. I have great communication with my daughter and she knows all the consequences of wrong doing but i am afraid they will date at school . I pray everyday and night for wisdom . Am I doing ok so far? Please advice I am very scared she might make a mistake , my husband says that I am doing the best I can and that I now need to let God work. He already sat down and explained to my daughter his point of view and our rules as Christians and as parents. Please give me some other ideas. So far the kid answered me saying sorry but still texting her to my phone appropriately every day while they are on vacation.