Many of the teens in our Christian homes are leaving behind the practice of their faith: “Six out of ten twenty-somethings were involved in a church during their teen years, but have failed to translate that into active spirituality during their early adulthood” (Barna Group). We need revival in the work of raising the next generation for God!
1. Humility is the key
The parents’ worldview is critical to the success of parenting. How can we tell who is at the center of our worldviews, ourselves or God? Easy. We just evaluate what we do when things don’t go our way. Particularly, how do we respond when a child doesn’t do right? Pride demands that we have our own way, that the child submit to us. Humility may demand the same action or attitude, but since the focus is not on “my way,” but on the child’s desperate need to walk in God’s ways, the attitude—which teens do read—is very different.
2. Parenting as a team
The greatest gift we can give our teens is a secure home. The marriage relationship is the foundation of a child’s world. When mom and dad have their disagreements in private and present a unified, consistent direction, teens are more secure.
3. Honest evaluation
How often I have heard, “My son is really a good boy; he has a good heart.” The reality is that all of our hearts gravitate toward sin! (Jer. 17:9) We all think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Honestly recognizing the deep hold of sin in the human heart is essential to guiding our children. Without that, the parents let their protective boundaries fail, and the teen is at great risk.
4. Reaching the heart
We must get past behavior modification, the linking of good behavior to a reward (like getting a drivers license) or punishment (getting grounded). Reward and punishment are biblical, but they are not the totality of God’s plan. With only those, we get teens who calculate the cost: is the fun of disobedience worth the pain of the punishment—and they conclude “yes” all too often.
5. THE main point
The world talks about the parent-centered approach vs. the child-centered approach. Both fail. The main point of parenting is to produce a God-worshiping adult (Eph. 6:1-4).
6. The blindness of immaturity
Teens naturally must try new things as they grow. However, the danger is that, in their inexperience, they may experiment with things that bring bondage.
7. The value of values
Hypocrisy is intolerable. It eats away at the soul as cancer eats at the flesh. We and our teens must do the right deed for the right reason: Bible-based, God-honoring values at the core of our being.
8. Strategic planning
Do we have a more definitive plan for our finances than we do for our families? To develop character in our children, we need to plan the process and have tangible goals, That is, we can see whether or not there is progress. Ephesians 6 calls us to bring our children through the process of maturing spiritually. We need to write down each child’s unique set of needs (spiritual, emotional, relational, physical), the methods of meeting the needs, and what observable action or condition would indicate success.
9. Communication and problem solving
The power of biblical communication results from five values. Communication works when we are honest, current, edifying, kind, and forgiving (Eph. 4:21-32).
10. The importance of family
Enjoying the gift of family is not an extra, it is a God-designed part of success. Casual, fun times are vital to the training and disciplining process. The sense that being family is a positive thing is a platform for the ministry of parents (Psalm 78; Deut. 6). The idea that a little “quality time” is enough is a myth. In giving children the quantity of time that they crave, you find the quality time happen. It cannot be commanded to appear on cue.