Have you ever said, “I raised him better than that”? Parents of teens engaging of less-than-respectable behaviors often struggle with feelings like disappointment and low self esteem.In order to be able to rebuild a relationship with a troubled teen, parents need to consider their main objectives in hoping for change. Too often, it’s their own pride and sense of self-worth, rather than their child’s good and God’s ultimate glory.
They Heard You.
Sure, they heard you say you think doing drugs or having sex outside of marriage or cheating is out of line—sinful, even. Evidently, that was not enough, and saying it again and again at various times and volumes probably won’t help your case. In fact, the louder and more repetitive you are, the less likely your teen will be to really listen. After all, they heard more than your “opinion” about their choices, before they made them.
Did they hear words like “I’d never forgive you” or “I’d disown you” attached to those behaviors? Teens are great at testing the validity of threats, and they love to point out inconsistencies. Not just rebellious teens, either—it’s actually part of their development into adults who are independent thinkers. If you said ugly words like that, maybe you need to apologize and explain that the thought of your teens making such unwise and ungodly choices scares you, then express from your heart why you were and are concerned.
They Do Care.
Even though your teen may say, “I don’t care what you think,” she really does. She may not care as much about your opinion as she does her own desires, but she does care. She craves your approval. Sometimes, parents make that approval so far out of reach that teens shrug their shoulders and think, “Why bother trying.” It’s easier on their already fragile egos to simply abandon all attempts to please someone who seems impossible to please. While there are many reasons teens experiment or indulge in sinful behaviors, sometimes it can be out of frustration with parental expectations that are simply too high to even attempt.
They Need You.
As tempting as it is to focus on your own hurt pride and dashed hopes for your teen, you need to deny yourself and focus on your teen’s needs. If you’re not sure exactly what he needs, you may need to enlist the help of a pastor, Christian counselor, or other godly adult. But if you focus on licking your own wounds, your relationship with your teen can suffer further damage that may take years to heal. You may well need a confidant of your own with whom to share your own struggles, but try to keep that burden from your teen: He has enough to deal with, already.