Nov 19

Parenting Teenagers – Part 1

Resource by Paul and Ruth Fast

Help! I Don’t Know What to do!

There is probably no more urgent a cry from any parent than “Help! I don’t know what to do!” There is no manual that comes attached to the baby’s toe upon delivery, with updates sent to your inbox with every new stage/phase/age. You are on your own. Or are you?

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who give generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5-6)

Parents, camp out on this verse. Write it on your bathroom mirror. There are tough and unique circumstances coming that will test your faith and resolve (James 1:2-5), but wisdom—the ability to know what to do—is guaranteed! The key is, it has to be asked for. It has to be waited patiently for. 

This promise from God has never failed us when we have asked for it. And we have been surprised at times how God answered. We have been prompted to hear from godly friends, our own parents and timely sermons. Our God is an “out-of-the-box” advice giver!

The situations in which we have to ask for wisdom are many. When clothes shopping with the kids, for example, “Lord, you know what we need to find today and what shop it’s in. This is your money and your time, help us not to waste either. Thank you for helping us find the right things today. Amen!” This is a prayer that has to be prayed before you open your computer, or in the car before you get into the mall! Christian parents can and should pray for wisdom in every situation. No scenario is too trivial or too daunting for the God of all wisdom.

One area that begs wisdom is setting boundaries and consequences for our kids. Children thrive when they know where the boundaries are—there is the security of knowing that someone is in charge here. So be careful where you set those boundaries. Once you say no to something, you have to follow through. The kids will figure out faster than they can process the thought that sometimes they can get away with things if they whine hard enough. Don’t say ‘no’ if you don’t absolutely have to.

A Family Plan

Something that helped us in setting boundaries for our family was to articulate a family plan—a policy manual if you will! We thought if businesses take the time to figure out where they want to go, how they want to operate, what they want to be known for, why should the family just bumble along assuming it will all shake out in the end?

We took some time to talk privately as a couple about how we wanted our family to run. The conversation started before we were married but really got onto paper (yes, write it down!) after we had a few children. Looking back at that document now gives our kids a good laugh and we cringe a little at the way we worded things. But it gave us boundaries within which to operate as mom and dad from the same playbook. And if there is anything that is crucial in parenting, it is being united.

So, as parents seeking wisdom from God for your family, here are some questions you might want to ask in your planning: 

  1. Where will we worship as a family and how will we be involved in a local church beyond Sunday morning?
  2. Where will we give our money and time to as our tithe to God?
  3. Where will we draw the line on behavioral issues, and what will we do about it? 
  4. How we will educate our kids, and what are the ramifications of that? (We would strongly encourage sending teens for a year at a Bible school before starting post-secondary education. It fosters and meets the need for independence while learning and experiencing Christian living in a new setting.)
  5. How much time and money will we spend on sports and outside school events?
  6. How will we teach our children about their bodies and healthy sexuality? (Hint: 4-5 years old is not too early!)
  7. What do we believe about dating and when it is healthy and appropriate to start (Hint: 8-10 years old is not too early to talk about this subject!) In our family we said after they return from one year of Bible School.
  8. How will we as a family honour the heritages that we come from? Our language, traditions, memories etc.?
  9. How will we help our children discern what career they should pursue? It is important that we help our kids not to give up too early.
  10. Practical issues such as when they can get a driver’s license and car use; when are they expected to be home at night in their teenage years; chores around the house, allowance; who pays for post-secondary training/education; what are our rules regarding internet and cell phone?

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)

The views expressed in our articles are those of the author and not necessarily held by everyone at Christ City Church.