As parents, our minds are consumed each summer with a list of things we need to do to set our children up for a successful school year. We spend the latter part of our summers shopping for binders, and backpacks, a new pair of shoes and uniforms. We want our children to walk in on day one with confidence and preparedness! What we often forget is that school success is much less defined by our child’s school supplies or clothing, but rather our awareness of their true needs and our investment towards them. If I could offer parents of teenagers three keys to school success, it would be these; pray without ceasing, pursue relationship, and value accountability.
I don’t know of a more effective way to encourage spiritual growth, behavioral maturity and self-confidence than parents on their knees battling in prayer for their children. He is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20) If you’ve not been in the habit of praying daily for your kids, it’s not too late! Start today! Get a book of prayers for teens and borrow those prayers until you find your own voice! Pray without ceasing and watch what God will do! The Lord is faithful to honor the fervent prayers of mothers and fathers on behalf of their children.
Although it seems like your teens want to spend time with anyone else but their parents, I can promise you that they are craving relationship with YOU! If you will consistently pursue them and invest in their interests, I believe you will see a shift in the relationships in your home! Over the last decade I have witnessed the heart change of the teenager whose mom secretly learned how to play her son’s favorite video game or the dad who won his daughter’s heart through a weekly date night at her favorite sushi restaurant, even though he hated fish. Go on a conversation journey with your teen! Every day, our culture is having thousands of conversations with your child. You can be a confident voice in their world! It’s a hard time to be a teenager and our world can be a scary place, take time to talk about it! If parents of teens make a consistent and conscious effort to be available, listen more than they speak, and respond rather than react, the conversation journey will take off and you will begin building relational equity with your teenager like never before! We know as adults that relationships take work. Let’s do what it takes within the walls of our homes to build intimate, safe and lasting relationships with our teens.
As your teen has long outgrown the time out chair and what might have felt like daily chastisement, they still need consistent accountability. We are all accountable to someone! As our teens are learning this truth, it is our role as parents to clearly and confidently hold them accountable. Kids learn to make good choices by making choices! If we are constantly choosing for them in their teenage years, they will never feel the weight of being accountable for the choices they make. If good choices lead to satisfying results and poor choices produce painful consequences, you’ll probably find your teens making more of the former than the latter if given the opportunity. This doesn’t mean that parents of teens forget the word “no”, it simply means we are beginning to allow them to fail while they are still under our care. It is in this season that we can gently lead them while continually working on relationship. Following through on consequences is just as important in the teen years as it was in the toddler years. Teens like to know where they stand and what’s expected of them.
Raising teenagers is hard work! It is in the teen years that most parents realize that they thought their kids needed them most as babies and toddlers, but it seems the truth is they need you more as teenagers, at least on an emotional level. Take time this year to get to know the teens in your home! Even when it’s very apparent that their prefrontal cortex is not yet fully developed, try not to lose sight of the fact that your teen is a lot of fun, they need your love and attention, and you can set them up for success this school year through prayer without ceasing, pursuing meaningful relationship, and valuing accountability.
Here are a few amazing resources for parents of teens! Check them out!