Parenting teens is all about allowing them to experiment with choices and experience the result of them, the good and bad, within the safety of our home, our care, and our protection. It is about teaching them to develop acumen for decision-making and equipping them for a home of their own. It is helping them acquire skills needed to survive and succeed in this world, without getting swollen up with victories nor swallowed up by failures. It is enduing them with resilience and resistance to handle relationships and responsibilities that go with intimacy and familiarity. It is equipping them to deal with protocols and strictures expected of adults, as well as learning how to wade their way through life’s myriad circumstances.
A parent whose goal is to train will ignore infractions and temper tantrums as they are concentrated on fitting the teen for adulthood, not on winning a battle against them. A teen parent is a coach, not a rival of their child, seeking to empower to play the game. Parents need to develop a reserve of strength and stamina to bear with the mood swings, temper squalls and failure patterns of their progeny. They must fully concentrate on the making or shaping of the boy/girl into manhood/womanhood. This attitude will enable you not to waste time in wallowing in self-pity or indulging in anger displays since you are focused on the end result. You will be one who looks beyond the present to the future and see where or what your child should be, rather than who or what they are now.
Be careful of your thoughts and words in this season of parenting for they can help or harm your child if you are not in control of these two things. Many a child gets marred and scarred for life because we have been so impatient and infuriated with them that we speak hurting words in a bid to spur them on.
Crucial to this period of parenting is the need to have a community of people around who will help you tide over this season with their own prayers and encouragement. These need to be people with whom you can download your woes, share experiences, rejoice over triumphs and weep over misdemeanours. They will bolster you with wise counsel and when you have a trusted few to vent the hurts your teen unwittingly and unknowingly inflicts on you, it will help you to go on living with positivity and grace.
It is important in this season to not allow other people’s words and opinions impact you in such a way as to put fear rather than faith in you. Your teen needs protection from other people’s criticisms and complaining, and so avoid putting down your teens or exposing their faults in public. Their ego is very fragile at this time and so can easily be hurt if too much negativity is around. Learn to act and not react, especially to other people’s comments, showing compassion, foreknowledge, and hope.
If you are to survive this most trying period of parenting prayer must be the very breath of your life and not an afterthought. Bend your knee in prayer and submit your will to the Lord in humility and healing rather than in vindictiveness and vengeance, so that you receive grace to handle the situations as they rise. Without His help, both for you and your child, you cannot survive this period. So, make prayer and spending time with God a priority and a prerogative rather than a beginning- or end-of the-day event. If you must love and tolerate your child in this period of life, you need to be filled with love through the power of the Spirit since you won’t ever be able to even bear with your child at this time. Receive from God all sustenance you need to sustain you as you help your child navigate through the murky waters of teenage to safe and solid ground of adulthood.
Bolster yourself with the thought that this too shall pass and soon you and your child as well as your family will be whole again on solid ground. Stand in the side-lines as guide and coach, allowing your ward play the game, rather than making them puppets controlled by your strings. Let your child know that he or she has the freedom to come or not come to you and, therefore, learn to accept them; their friends. Make your home a welcome place for them and their cronies so that they seek you and don’t make them run away by rejecting them with your well-meaning judgements and criticisms.
Above all, trust God and walk in restful peace and quietness of Spirit so that your home is heaven not hell for your child. Take heart in the knowledge that He is sufficient for all and entrust your child to Him for He will keep until the end what you release into His Hand (…because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day [2 Tim 1:12 NIV]).
Remember they are His, not ours and therefore, be careful to exercise stewardship and not ownership over your child, expecting them to fulfil your dreams!
Just as the Pharaoh’s daughter gave Moses to his mother and told her to raise him up for her, even so God has given us our child to raise for Him. When we are faithful to this call and this service, He Himself will reward us.
May we be those who receive His commendation, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:23 NIV).