Give Life To Your Story: Confronting Teenagers – It’s Never Too Late to Start
Confronting teenagers can be difficult, to say the least. Working with teens has taught me a great deal when it comes to conflict resolution. Tough topics come up, like drinking, drug use, lying, stealing, and sexting. Yes, I just said sexting. These are all real concerns that we cannot turn a blind eye to.
More often than not, it’s about peer pressure getting the best of them. That’s why “friend choice” is such a huge part of your child’s development. On the other hand, some cases have to do with an emotional state of loneliness, self-worth, or a cry for attention. In all cases, teens need you as the parent, to either be the voice of truth, or they need you to get them the help they need.
Often as parents, we turn around and it seems like our children have gone from crawling to running to driving in a matter of months. It catches us off guard, and it creates a sense of helplessness, as if we are not prepared to do this thing called parenting. The best advice I have heard is this: “Never forget you have been where they are now.” Maybe you never experienced the teenage years with the same struggles. This doesn’t exclude you from recognizing the struggles and then relating to them as best you can. Don’t allow the fact that this generation is so far different than yours be a hinder to you.
Here are some helps when confronting your teenager:
In mild situations, humor and empathy go a long way. In serious situations, consequences are a must. Respect and cooperation go hand in hand. Assertive and effective communication are key to maintaining an open communication channel. And set clear boundaries. Many studies have shown that a child who is given too much freedom and little discipline is just as bad off as a child that is in an abusive home. It’s called “absence abuse” – and it can lead to self-worth questioning by our children. If you find yourself saying, “All they need is space,” and that space becomes greater and greater, soon you will find a great expanse that will be very tough to get over.
I know that many parents often feel that it is too late. They’ve had one too many conflicts, or they have been away too much. Maybe they feel they’ve made too many mistakes. But, that’s just not the case. It’s not easy, but it is worth it. Parent is a verb – and it is never too late to start. God gives all of us enough grace for this life and even enough grace to get us through parenting teenagers.
Give life to your parenting. Find help in the local churches or student ministries in your area. You’re not alone in this.