Discipline of Teens
True Family Series
May 15, 2016
FOR THE CONSCIENTIOUS, SPIRITUALLY-ENGAGED TEEN
First PRAY TOGETHER. Showing the young person that you, too are seeking an adult/peer relationship as time goes on.
Perhaps QUESTIONS RATHER THAN LECTURE. We all know that decisions and choices have much more impact when we come to significant conclusions on our own. Remember that the Spirit of God is more interested in each of us obeying Him than we are either as parents or individuals.
This is not to say that we ask questions like a psychiatrist – “How does that make you feel?” Also, we are not talking about obvious questions – “Do you think that was a good idea?” (By the way, parents must be careful to not humiliate or belittle teens – we are to encourage one another. To humiliate and belittle is not like Jesus).
The kinds of questions that would lead to real reflection and self-imposed correction would be more along the lines of, “I remember how Jesus told the story of _____________ (use a biblical parable or circumstance). How do you see what He was teaching?” Allow the teen to answer – or at least to consider. Then perhaps ask another question – “I see some connections with this situation we are in – do you?” Obviously, the parent needs to know the Scriptures for himself/herself to use this approach. NOT as a weapon, but as a tool, given by the Spirit of God to deal with the issues of life. Another question, “How can I help you in this situation?”
Building the young person’s trust of God and encouraging his or her faith is much more along the lines of how Jesus would handle a situation with a spiritually-engaged teen.
FOR THE TEEN WHO IS NOT SPIRITUALLY-ENGAGED BUT OPEN
Preaching to or at a young person may not be entirely effective. But certainly asking leading questions might help. “Son/daughter, I’m concerned about something I am seeing in you. Not because I think it will embarrass me – I am concerned for how this will affect you in the long-term. How do you see it?” Then LISTEN!
After listening, “So I hear what you’re saying. I’m not sure we agree, but I do want to help you make good decisions and even help you see God at work in this situation. I want to help you, not only as a parent, but really, as an adult. I always have and always will pray for you – and I’m praying now. I have some thoughts, too, that may help you. Are you interested in hearing them?”
If the young person says yes, share the thoughts. If the answer is no, “OK, I’ll leave you in God’s hands – He can handle you and speak to you. But I will continue to pray for you – and I’m always available to talk.”
Obviously, nothing is resolved if the teen doesn’t want interaction. But the lines of communication, while not really open, are also not really closed. In all of our interactions with children and teens, we want to come out at the end with the relationship between God and them and between us and them intact. That is not to say that we compromise the truth or ignore the clear commands of Jesus. But we DO have to navigate the interactions in a way that leads to growth and continuation of the relationship.
FOR THE TEEN NOT SPIRITUALLY ENGAGED AND CLOSED, ANGRY AND DISRESPECTFUL
First PRAY! Pray for patience, wisdom, understanding from God, guidance from God’s Spirit. Pray 2 Timothy 2:24-26 both for yourself and your teen.
Remember that Jesus is not a weapon for beating rebellious teens. He is the One who will save them. Regardless of where the teen is right now, he or she is writing his/her testimony.
Sometimes really tough choices may need to be made. Your key as a parent is to not be dragged into rage and loss of control. Submit yourself to the Spirit of God, trusting that God actually does see and know and understand every situation from beginning to end. When Moses and the people of Israel stood on the banks of the Red Sea with water in front of them and Pharaoh’s army racing up behind them, the only one who saw the path of escape was God Himself. Consider, too, that God is much more interested in rescuing your teen from rebellion than you are.
Even if the young person ridicules and ignores, laughs and/or screams, you must maintain control of yourself. Facing this kind of situation makes it SO CLEAR how important it is to know the Word of God for yourself. Some better-informed person is not going to be able to step in and tell you what verses you need to refer to or rely on in the midst of the difficulty. God the Spirit working through God’s Word that you have hidden in your heart will be what God uses to help you. If you have not spent time reading, studying, learning God’s Word for yourself, there is nothing in the tank to draw upon for energy. You will not be prepared to face this difficult, frustrating, and heart-breaking situation.
In addition to that, having godly counsel from other believers CAN be a help. This is one reason the church is so important – not being in the same building on Sunday morning, but being involved in life together with other followers of Jesus. God has helped other parents through similar circumstances as you might be facing. And He has put those people in His True Family to help one another.
Raising children is difficult. It was not meant to be, but sin ruined the way God intended for us. BUT, with the work of God the Creator, the parent/child relationship can be restored, built up, moved on to adulthood. This all comes through faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His commands – for all of us.