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Seven Mistakes We Make With Teens

Raising teens is without a doubt a ­hair-­raising and often hair-pulling ­experience. Parents of teens often find themselves locked in a battle of wills. Often the key is remaining more stubborn than your fourteen year old. But there are some common mistakes to avoid as well. Here are seven that should be avoided.

  • Comparing kids. It’s a mistake to compare children because no two are alike. The Bible has a couple of examples of parents ­comparing children. Cain was upset at being compared to his brother Abel in Genesis 4. Jacob and Esau were constantly compared by their parents. Neither situation turned out well. Remember that every child is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Your child is a unique one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Don’t forget that.
  • Expect the worst. It is our job as parents to encourage our children. This seems to be even more important in those difficult teen years. Teens give their parents plenty of reason to criticize. What they truly need is to be built up. The Lord has plans of welfare for our children—not evil (Jeremiah 29:11). Let’s make sure they know that they have a bright future and tremendous potential. Always expect the best from your children.
  • Read every book on parenting. There are close to 40,000 books on ­parenting ­available. Titles like “Ketchup is a ­Vegetable: And other lies Moms tell ­themselves” and “Duct Tape ­Parenting: A Less is More Approach to Raising ­Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient Kids.” Remember that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).  If you want to find knowledge about parenting, reject the experts of this world and seek the wise counsel of God. Included in God’s book on parenting are such things as disciplining children while there is hope, raising children in the instruction of the Lord, and severing the relationship at the appropriate time (Proverbs 19:18; ­Ephesians 6:4; Genesis 2:24).
  • Sweat the small stuff. Not everything is worth fighting about. Oh, there will be plenty. But not everything. Remember to show the fruits of the Spirit to your children…including patience, kindness, and gentleness (Galatians 5:22–23). Sometimes that is difficult to do. The little things often cause more frustration in life than major problems. If parents aren’t careful, they can focus more on the small things than the things they should. Pick your battles. Not everything is worth fighting about.
  • Bypass the big stuff. Too often, parents pick apart their teen on the small things and overlook the major things. Eli failed to pay attention to the major things in his sons’ lives (1 Samuel 2:22–23). God told Samuel that Eli was responsible for their shortcomings (1 Samuel 3:13). Don’t ignore the signs of your son or daughter getting involved in things they shouldn’t. Pay attention. And make sure you address the big problem areas in their life.
  • Rule in the extreme. Typically parents are at one extreme or the other. The child isn’t allowed to do anything and is completely restricted. He isn’t allowed to make any decisions. He isn’t allowed to spend any time without the parents. Or, the child is given complete control and reign because the parent is afraid of upsetting them. He is given the ability to do whatever he wants. Both are wrong. Young people need balanced discipline and instruction. If parents leave them to make up their own rules, it ends in shame for the parents (Proverbs 29:15). Parents need to have open communication with their children. And they need to constantly pray for wisdom.
  • Be hypocritical in your spiritual life. ­Moses told the Israelites they needed to love the Lord with all their heart, mind, and soul (Deuteronomy 6:5–6). Your children need to see that on display constantly. And just showing up for church isn’t enough. They are able to witness you in various ­settings that reveal whether or not you are a committed disciple or just a pretender. May sure you are the authentic real deal around your children.

Raising teenagers is hard. But making these common mistakes will only make it harder. Remember that the teenage years serve as an important turning point in your child’s life. If you provide them a solid ­foundation of faith in these years, it will provide a great future for them. Because even if they leave for a while, they will still have a solid ­foundation to return to. Train up your child in how he or she should go… (Proverbs 22:6).