Having teenagers in the family makes for a different environment. It's no so easy for the teen either. It is difficult being a teenager and getting harder by the day. Teenagers are neither adult nor child, and can become either without notice. Flooding hormones and exploding neurons spark biochemical reactions in their heads and bodies. Words like, "What in the world were you thinking?" form involuntarily on our lips. In response come sullen teenage shrugs, followed by the incomprehensible, "I don't know." And they don't! What can we do? "Lock them up?" Sorry, that's illegal. But here are several things that can help us love and care for teens.
(1) Back off and slow down. "Be clear minded and self-controlled." One of the biggest mistakes we parents make is overreacting, which triggers an escalating battle of wills we're unlikely to win. Decibel levels rise, wisdom fails, our teen concludes we're the crazy one, and suddenly there's no adult present and nobody's "minding the store." We've become part of the problem, leaving our child angry and insecure, without a rational role model. Pray, breathe deeply and count to ten! For our child's sake, it's time for the clear minded and self-controlled parent to prevail.
(2) Remember, anger begets anger. "An angry person starts fights; a hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin" (Pr 29:22 NLT). No one can infuriate us like a teenager trying to grow up. A look, a word, an attitude, and you're "hooked;" we're in a shouting match with our own child. How crazy is that? Emotionally charged exchanges hard wire our teenager's brain for automatic, long-term anger reactions. What's the answer? Use the carrot and stick approach of Scripture: "Provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture [love and encouragement] and admonition [character building discipline] of the Lord" (Eph 6:4).
(3) Tell them, "I Love you". Tell them, "I Love you". Tell them, I love you". Yes, I know I repeated it. I was actually trying to make this article longer so I threw a few extra in there for effect. (just kidding) I mean it, grab them tight and tell them you love them. This is so hard but really necessary. Keep them loved despite the problems so they don't look for love in the wrong place. It may feel like hugging a cactus, but getting stuck will heal and pay huge rewards.
For those with teenagers, good luck, we need it. Remember, tomorrow's leaders are about to emerge, so love and shape their life. Be Blessed.