It’s hard to believe that our oldest child turned 16 this past year, and we also have a beautiful teenage daughter who is 14. As parents, we are constantly learning on this journey as we strive to do our best at navigating these ‘new waters’ of the teenage years with grace and effectiveness. I mean, what parent of a teenager doesn’t want to get it right? Yet, how many parents of teens get it wrong?
While we still have much to learn, here are a few things that we have learned are truly helpful in raising teens:
1. CLEAR communication between you and your spouse.
The teenage years are different than the younger parenting years, and with that comes a different set of challenges and responsibilities. It’s super important that you and your spouse are regularly communicating about your teen – their decisions, their whereabouts, their friends, and most importantly, the direction of their heart.
2. REGULAR communication between you and your teen.
I would encourage any parent of a teen to have lots and lots of conversations. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions, to hold them accountable, and to engage in their interests. What I’ve found is that if I make myself available to talk to them, and I show a genuine interest in their lives and passions, then we are going to have plenty to talk about, and they actually look forward to talking about it. Not to mention that teenagers naturally have a lot of crazy things and feelings and issues going on in their lives, which necessitates regular conversations.
3. Mom and Dad being on the SAME PAGE.
One of the reasons it’s so important that parents have clear communication with each other is because if you are not on the same page, your teen will know it, and it can cause a lot of unnecessary problems and division in your home. Talk big things over together before talking about them with your teen. Make sure your teen knows that Mom and Dad are on the same page.
4. Make your home a SAFE PLACE.
The reality of raising teenagers is this: teens make mistakes. They will mess up. And there is no better place for them to mess up than within the safety of your home and family. Many parents mistakenly think that they never want their child to make any mistakes, but a wise parent realizes that their home is the training ground for the rest of their teens’ life. So mistakes are a good thing.
5. Unconditional LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE.
In addition to making mistakes, teenagers do weird things. They don’t always make sense. Raising children on the verge of becoming adults is a transition that can be interesting and even messy, to say the least. I’ve found that this requires a lot of patience, prayer, and practice. No matter what your teen goes through in these transitional years of their life, make sure that you leave absolutely no room for doubt concerning your unconditional love for them as your child. Because they will never forget that.
What do you think are some other important things to do when raising teens?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “If you could read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?”