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Questions about Parenting Teens

As I mentioned recently, in a post entitled Parenting vs. Micro-Managing, our church will be holding a parenting conference later this month and Lisa and I were asked to lead a workshop on “Parenting Teens.” We have an hour to address a subject that requires, oh, eons of wisdom.

Despite the time constraints, it’s an issue we are really invested in. Of course, we’re officially out of the “raising teenagers” stage (our youngest will be 22 next week), but children — both having them and enjoying them — seems to be a “calling” we’ve stumbled into. Along with raising our four kids, I was a Youth Pastor for a short time. It was very… enlightening.

One of the takeaways from those years was the realization that many parents are terribly out-of-touch with their teens. I recently left this message on Facebook:

Being computer illiterate is no excuse for not knowing what your kids are doing online.

The reason I wrote that is because I am Facebook “friends” with some kids of people I know… and they write some pretty weird, often crude and risque, things online. And it leaves me wondering where the heck those kids’ parents are. The sad truth is that this is symptomatic of parents in general. We hem and haw, make excuses, climb the ladder of success, only to wake up one day and discover our kids are OOC.

Anyway, I decided to use the aforementioned web post, and several others, as a framework for what we’ll share in that workshop. (See, this blogging thing can pay off!) As I ponder the issues in preparation,  I thought it would be insightful to get some of your feedback. Whether or not you have parented teens, will parent them, or are currently in process…

What one piece of advice would you give parents of teens?

What do you think is the single biggest thing a teenager needs from his / her parents?

What is the most common mistake you think parents make raising teens?

Hey, any insight you can give me on one, or all of the questions, would be wonderful. (And, I promise, if I use some of your advice in the workshop, I’ll give you a shout out.)

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Mike August 12, 2010, 12:28 PM

    My wife is a doctoral student in clinical psychology, focusing on children and adolescents. She is preparing her dissertation on this subject, namely parental monitoring and the use of technology. If there is any possible way you could share the online link to her survey, we think it would greatly improve society’s understanding of the role of technology in how parents monitor adolescents. The survey link is here: http://technologysurvey.wordpress.com/
    Good luck at the workshop and let’s hope we can keep up with our children and their use of technology.

  • Tanya August 12, 2010, 1:32 PM

    I am currently parenting 2 teens and my oldest was terrible in the beginning starting at around 10 yrs old. She is finally settling into a calm some what normal behavior.

    SO my advice: Stick to your rules and have RULES…and do not have the same punishment for every child…they are different and need different “inspiration”. And start with sticking to your guns when they are 2 yrs old so they expect it at 13 yrs old.

    My teenagers need to know I am listening–of course when they are mad they say I don’t, but if I can have real conversation with them when things are normal then in all actualitythey KNOW I listen…do not always agree, but listen and know what is going on in their life and understand how embarrassed they might be about what ever is going on at that moment. they also need to know that I have raised them up to this point with a certain expectation of their behavior and choices, but it is pretty much between them and God once 14 yrs old rolls around…I can influence and discipline, but I have to allow for some of their own consequences and they need to know that I have laid that responsibility upon their shoulders and I am here for guidance.

    I make mistakes all the time but mostly I lose my cool…lose my temper, and at that moment not only have they WON so to speak but I have displayed the exact behavior I do not want them to have. SOOoo work on taking a time out for yourself and your child. When my oldest is mad she wants to pick a fit and she is good at pushing me to explosion…so I have learned to send her to her room and I can calm down and then punish accordingly. However my son does not keep pushing verbally rather he just fights back by doing half the job asked of him…so again I have learned to calm down and then make him start completely OVER on the said job!

    We have basic rules and family dinner and prayers…we reference God’s word when related (almost always) but try not to beat them with guilt…that is the Holy spirits job haha just kidding.

    In all consistant love and discipline and calm nerves is the name of the game– pssh how easy is that…NOT! 😉

  • Nicole August 12, 2010, 4:44 PM

    Tell them the Truth. Not the world’s truth. Know what the world (school, friends, TV, film) is telling them. Converse with them, listen to them, tell them your mistakes in your youth. Make sure they know the Truth doesn’t change because they might want it to, a friend said there’s no such thing as hell, or whatever. Make sure the Lord is a real part of their everyday life. Real meaning He’s there as best friend, Lord, Savior, the works.

    Consistency is it. Again and again and again even when you want to abandon every rule and all hope. Consequences. Consistency.

    But you knew that . . .

  • Nicole August 12, 2010, 4:47 PM

    Oh: mistakes parents make. Trying to be their kids’ friends to avoid conflict or to live vicariously through them. Either enabling them in their bad behavior or coming down too hard on insignificant things which merit a lesser reprimand.

    Mainly and most important, though, is not making Jesus real. Making Christianity just another religion. What a shame and a travesty.

  • Tresa August 12, 2010, 7:49 PM

    I think parents of teens need to cut themselves more slack and try not to feel so guily. okay, some of us should feel guilty for not doing the greatest job with our kids. But soaking in that guilt doesn’t help. especially if a parent believes in God they have to believe that love covers a multitude of sins. God will forgive them and wants to help their teenagers grow up too. that’s why i think parents kind of need to lighten up and give themselves more room to grow.

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