Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The teen years

Most parents, while they are raising younger children, do so with a wary-eye cast towards the teenage years. Unfortunately these years are a well-known time for families to experience tremendous trials and for kids to experiment with the many temptations they have so long avoided.

In the younger years, Christian parents tend to be diligent in laying a foundation of respect, obedience and belief in God, but when the teen years begin, many parents are willing to abandon that foundation in an effort to win their child's favor. Personally, I believe that God places a desire in the heart of teens to be independent but our society's teen sub-culture puts a hearty stamp of approval on seeking that independence in an inappropriate way.

With two teenagers in my home, ages 17 and 15, I can attest to the fact that the teen years have their own unique set of challenges, but by standing firmly on the foundation laid in prior years, we are walking successfully through these years all the while maintaining a close relationship and a tight family-bond.

During Bible times wayward children were dealt a harsh set of consequences for disobedience and while I am not advocating any particular method of discipline, I am pointing out that a wayward teen is actually in rebellion towards his parents and this is not to be considered "normal" and should be confronted. As a parent, it is easy to want to back down in order to ease the tension and earn the child's favor, but in reality they still need you to be firm and to expect right behavior. Contrary to what many parents think, this is what earns you the favor and respect of your child.

I am blessed to have a husband who, in the middle of rough times, reminds me of these things because I am often the parent who is trying to relieve the tension of the situation instead of actually dealing with it.

Young parents can take heart. The foundation you are laying is a good one but you must remember to continue to stand on it and draw your teens towards it in the future years. The disobedience and attitudes that are inappropriate in a 6-year old are equally inappropriate in a 16-year old and there is no special hormonal excuse that lets them off the hook.

Standing firmly on the foundation you have laid may earn your teenager's temporary disfavor but in the long-run your firm stand coupled with a close relationship will be the bond that sees you and your child through the teen years and beyond.