Since becoming a parent, I have been on the lookout for positive parenting tips. Every stage of a child’s life has highs and lows, but the teenage years can be especially challenging. Although the teenage years are unpredictable and hard to grasp, they are an important stage of growth in every person’s life.
Finding and developing positive parenting strategies for the teenage years has become an important part of our family journey. As parents of teenagers we begin to lose a grip on our child’s life which is extremely unnerving and uncomfortable, but an important part of the process.
My daughter jumped into the car and an avalanche of tears came with her. “Mom, it was awful, she didn’t speak to me all day, and I don’t understand what I did wrong.” My daughter had been feeling distant from one of her closest friends, and said she was being “ghosted”.
As painful as it was to watch my daughter hurting, I realized it was not my struggle. I listened and grieved then waited for her questions on how to fix her relationship. The questions never came. She didn’t want me to fix her friendship, she just wanted me to listen:again.
The uncertainty of when to release our teenagers, and the discomfort this lack of control causes, is one of the reasons raising teenagers is so difficult. Parents have to learn to transition from doing everything for their baby to eventually releasing their children into the world.
When we rely on our trust in God to guide us, we can survive the teenage years and deepen our faith and connection with our teens. Watching our teenagers evolve into responsible humans can be quite rewarding and uplifting.
How can I be a Better Parent to my Teenager?
Recently I was having coffee with a friend who has a teenage daughter. She said, “someone lied to me or at least failed to tell me why raising a teenager is so difficult.”
Raising teenagers often feels lonely and there are no clear paths to finish the journey because every child is different. One of the reasons raising teenagers is difficult is because parents find it hard to talk about the hard topics that face teens and it is hard to find teenage parenting tips.
For some reason discussing temper tantrums, potty training and new skills are easier than discussing social media boundaries, lying, problems in school, and conflict in relationships.
It may be that our teenager’s problems are too closely tied to our own unresolved issues. Or it may be linked to our fears and expectations that our child will get involved in disruptive and damaging behavior.
The first thing a lot of people say when I tell them my kids are teenagers is good luck and one day it will be over!
But can we do better than just surviving the teenage years? I believe we can when we see the greatness in our teenagers and embrace positive parenting strategies for the teenage years that impact our whole family.
“Teenagers get a bad rap, says Richard Lerner, PhD, director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. Many parents approach raising teenagers as an ordeal, believing they can only watch helplessly as their lovable children transform into unpredictable monsters. But that sets you — and your teen — up for several unhappy, unsatisfying years together.
“The message we give teenagers is that they’re only ‘good’ if they’re not doing ‘bad’ things, such as doing drugs, hanging around with the wrong crowd, or having sex,” Lerner says. It could become a self-fulfilling prophecy: Negative expectations can actually promote the behavior you fear most.
A Wake Forest University study showed that teens whose parents expected them to get involved in risky behaviors reported higher levels of these behaviors one year later.”
How can I be a better parent to my teenager is not an easy question to answer, because raising teenagers involves many conflicting emotions, and we have many distractions and obstacles to overcome.
It is possible to enjoy raising teenagers, but it is not an easy assignment. But what relationship is ever easy?
15 Positive Parenting Strategies for the Teenage Years
How can we raise teenagers and help them embrace Christian values to become loving, moral, secure, and respectful people?
Our family is still in the midst of this goal but here are 15 positive parenting strategies for the teenage years that we have learned along the way.
- Be secure and complete in our own identity which helps us resist the urge to live vicariously through our teenagers. When we trust we are created in God’s image for a purpose, we do not try to take on others’ lives, including our teenagers.
- Learn to let your teenager fail without coming to their rescue. This is always a difficult one. It is never easy to watch someone you love lose, get hurt, or fail, but failure is extremely important for your teen’s development and growth. We all learn more from failure than success.
- Try to see your teen as the young adult they are becoming and that you will want to hang out with one day; just maybe not today. They are not our best friends as a teenager and many teenage problems with parents stem from a lack of clear boundaries in the relationship.
- Work on staying emotionally and spiritually healthy so your teenager’s pain does not become your problem. We all walk through seasons of pain, but if parents carry the hurt of everyone in the family, we never have times of peace and refreshing for our own spirit. Perseverance in the parenting race requires a healthy soul.
- Do not accept disrespect. We live in a very casual culture that muddles the line between teenagers and parents and other authority figures. “Just kidding” and “I didn’t mean it” should not be used to cover disrespect. How to get your teenager to respect you can be tough because we don’t want to alienate our teens by micromanaging every behavior. Use wisdom and follow other positive parenting examples to not let an attitude of disrespect be the tone of your home.
- Do not dictate their identity or snuff out who God created them to be. Our teenagers are not extensions of us, and will definitely choose things that we wouldn’t. This is another area that creates teenage problems with parents. When my son left for college, he was clean-cut and looked similar to my husband. When he returned, he looked like he had joined a 1960’s rock band. The decision of how to wear his hair and what clothes he was wearing had nothing to do with his heart and love for God. We had to learn to adjust and accept his appearance even if it was not what we would have chosen.
- Speak more words to God and fewer words to your teen. Keeping quiet when we have so much to offer is extremely difficult. I sometimes feel that if my teenager would just listen to me, we could eliminate so many problems. But it is not my job to eliminate their problems. I have learned to talk to God in prayer and stay quiet to my teen.
- Try not to take it personally when your teenager starts choosing to hang out with other people instead of you. Ok, this one hurts, and there is not a teenage parenting tip that makes this feel any better. But we have to realize it is an important transition for our teenagers. Stay connected to them as much as possible without holding on for dear life.
- Study your child, so you are familiar with their strengths, weaknesses, personality, and what triggers them. I believe this goes on for the lifetime of the people we care about. Understanding each other helps us stay connected, resolve conflict, and love despite disagreements. As our teenagers grow, if we know them, navigating the teenage years is much more positive
- Do not avoid tough conversations. As our children get older, conversations get more mature and more difficult. And as much as I hate talking about uncomfortable subjects, our teenagers need to hear healthy, Christian perspectives on life. The constructive debate will help them learn to handle conflict outside of our home. It will also help our teens hear our voice and the Holy Spirit which will develop a strong moral compass when they start making their own choices.
- Talk about social media and its impact on their lives and on the world; one of the most important teenage parenting tips. Social media is here to stay and teenagers spend a lot of their time using it. Our teenagers need to know how they will manage their use before they head out on their own. Our teenage son struggles to manage his time with technology. We have used very creative methods to help him learn how to control his own impulses so he can have a healthy relationship with social media and other technology. This is another area that causes teenage problems with parents and a lot of friction. It is worth discovering teenage parenting tips for social media usage from experts and from other parents who have had some success.
- Watch and listen carefully, sort of like a private detective. Their choices in friends and how they spend their time reveals their character. This allows you to build trust. With trust, we can release them to move independently. But our observations can also tell us when it is time to step in. Most teenagers are yearning for independence so trust-building is a cornerstone for their freedom.
- Realize your role in their life is constantly shifting. Guide your teenager to help them make good decisions but don’t make all of the decisions for your teenager. “Teens raised in rigid environments miss out on the chance to develop problem-solving or leadership skills — because you’re making the decisions for them. Yet too little discipline doesn’t help, either. Teens and tweens need clear structure and rules to live by as they start to explore the world outside.” Joanne Barker
- Expose them to the wonderful blessings a life in Christ offers. Love them unconditionally. Respect them. Take them to church. Exhibit a fruit-filled life. Surround them with other people that love them for who they are and who walk in the fruit of the spirit and set Godly examples. This parenting strategy provides spiritual and relational roots that will grow and follow them for a lifetime.
- When they are ready to fly, let them go without planting fear and insecurity. When my daughter learned to drive and was ready to go alone, it was terrifying. She was ready, she had practiced and was doing a good job. I was not ready, and it is not easy to release them. It is tempting to plant seeds of fear every time they walk out the door but it is not always beneficial. This final positive parenting strategy for the teenage years is a culmination of many years of deposits but is also the most difficult one to go through.
How do you Deal with the Teenage Years?
How do you deal with the teenage years is a question that I am often asked. Many aspects of positive parenting strategies for the teenage years have looked different for each of my children.
But there have been some constants. For our family we have found the best way to deal with the teenage years and to grow closer to each other is to:
- Have a strong group of people around you that is supportive and available to provide positive parenting examples.
- Be involved in a church that walks beside you and your teenager as they grow and change
- Pray often for God to shine brighter than the darkness offered by the world.
- Stay in a posture of personal growth and development, so you don’t get too consumed with your teenager’s development.
- Love who they are and who they are becoming. They probably won’t look exactly like you envisioned when they were small, but parts of them are still there. They need your love and acceptance more than ever.
Bible Verses for Teenagers
I have read many books about parenting, but the most valuable resource has been the Bible. The Bible has provided me with some of the most helpful teenage parenting tips. Here are some of my favorite Bible verses for teenagers that you can share with your teen.
- When explaining to your teenager the importance of Bible reading:
“How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word.” Psalm 119:9 MSG
- When your teenager is frustrated with your instruction and discipline:
“My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.” Proverbs 1:8-9 NLT
- When you are frustrated with their choices or behavior:
“Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” Ephesians 6:4 MSG
- When your teenager is seeking spiritual guidance:
“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative””that is, the Holy Spirit””he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” John 14:26 NLT
- When your teenager needs encouragement to step out into unknown territory:
“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
- When your teenager is worried or anxious and needs scripture to repeat:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
Raising Teenagers Can be a Positive Experience
Raising teenagers is a process that involves unknown obstacles and pain along the way, but raising teenagers can be a positive experience. It can be a rewarding season for the teen and for the parent.
I know many parents who have enjoyed spending time with and getting to know their teenagers. Most of us have waded through the season’s highs and lows with a lot of prayers, help from the Holy Spirit, and trusted family and friends.
Raising teenagers can be a positive experience when we adapt and follow positive parenting strategies for the teenage years. Preparation and trust in God have been essential. I have had to wade through and adjust my expectations in some areas such as achievements and success, but keep expectations high in relation to strong character.
The greatest parenting tip to remember is God loves our teenagers more than we do. Walking in this confidence has helped me be a better parent and enjoy each of my teenagers.
How about you? Could you add any teenage parenting tips to the list?