If you’re the parent of a teen who’s struggling, you can probably make a list a mile long of changes you wish your teen would make. But what about yourself, your parenting, your relationships? Now, this isn’t about saying your teen doesn’t need to change. But your own life speaks much more loudly — and convincingly — than any of your lectures. Of course, there are other ways to communicate with your teen besides one-sided sermons, but your actions still speak more loudly. And there’s biblical precedent for that idea, too.
An Argument for Introspection
In Titus 2, “older women” are given the responsibility of having their lives in order, “so that they may” be able to instruct younger women in various aspects of their God-given roles. But there’s more. Luke 6:42 isn’t specifically about older-to-younger relationships, but it still applies. We need to examine ourselves first, before confronting our teens. If we have our facts straight and they’re truly at fault, as parents we still have the authority to offer consequences for their behavior.
But if we’re out of line, ourselves, then our response to their behavior can drive a wedge of rebellion even more deeply into their hearts. If we’re in tune with the idea that God cares about their hearts — and ours — and not just their behavior, we’ll be concerned about this. And when we care about our relationship with our teen, we’ll be reflecting the heart of our (and our teens) Heavenly Father.
A Call for Great Listening
Often, our teens can communicate angrily and unfairly with us, and as their parents, we naturally want to respond by correcting their misconceptions or confronting their attitudes. And there’s certainly a time for that. But even while we consider the parenting needs at hand, we have to take a look at our own responses — both internally and externally. How does God command and equip us to respond to unfair treatment? Are we responding in keeping with the flesh or the spirit? Galatians 5 offers a comparison.
It might seem almost miraculous for your household to be characterized by fruits like joy, peace, and love when your teen is completely opposed to those kinds of virtues, but if God’s Holy Spirit resides with you, such miracles are truly possible! James 1:19 outlines a call to everyone — even parents of teens — that can be reality for you, too: “Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” When we hear our teens hurtful words, we can listen carefully, considering how God might be using them to reveal truth about our own failings, and respond calmly.
If you’re ready to explore more about how God may be transforming your family, take a deep breath, say a prayer, and click over to Part 2.