Enjoying Your Teenager

image Recently, Karen and I led a seminar for the parents of young people in our church.  These are our notes:


In small groups, we thought about what a successful Young Person looks like?


Then we thought about what makes a good parent. We used a list of characteristics chosen by young people.  You could use the same list with your teenager and see which they pick out as the most important.


We recommended “Whatever!: A Down-to-Earth Guide to Parenting Teenagers” by Gill Hines and Alison Baverstock. 


John’s Enjoyment Countdown

10. Enjoy your own integrity

The more internally consistent your life is, the less your teenager will find to complain about.  Their parents being the same at home as in public is important to a young person.   It may, of course, be more of a case of “specks and logs” when it comes to teenagers criticising their parents, but the less specks we have the happier they will be.  And living with our own integrity is a singularly pleasurable way to live anyway.


9. Enjoy creating a safe space for them with appropriate relationships
Creating safe spaces for our children is second nature when they are young.  When they are older the space may be different but we can enjoy providing them with the appropriate new safe places they need to continue to grow.  Similarly, we can enjoy ensuring that the relationships of love they form with others are appropriate for their age and maturity. 


8. Enjoy being patient

We often need to have a strong word with our teenager about behaviour or language or dress or timekeeping or whatever.  Bad behaviour isn’t just “a phase”.  We have a responsibility to build them up to behave as adults.  But waiting for an appropriate moment to talk allows our anger to subside.  And of course talking before the event is a better option still.


7. Enjoy negotiating with them
As adults we negotiate all the time.  It’s a key skill.  Often our best decisions come from the give and take of negotiating. Use the same skill with a teenagers and it could be enjoyable. It will certainly help them to see that freedoms and privileges are the flipside of accountability and responsibility.  Say “yes” as much as you can, so that “no” has got significance. 


6. Enjoy learning from them

Teenagers may not know much but they do know somethings.  Letting them teach you something helps with their self worth and confidence. Things which you may well know but possibly not.  You most probably do know best, but the best things we have learn come from our own experience rather than being told.  


5. Enjoy being flexible

Being flexible is a characteristic we value in adults.  Teenagers can be distant/close/happy/sad/hands-on/hands-off/child-like/grown-up all in a matter of minutes.  Being flexible with them just eases the pressure.


4. Enjoy time with them

Teenagers rumble quickly when they are only getting quality time.  A few minutes here and there simply doesn’t wash with them.  It’s a fallacy that quality makes up for quantity.  Enjoy giving them all the time they need.  Become their chauffer and, in a Christian context, get them to as many Christian events as you can afford.


3. Enjoy being a fan

Young people need encouragement and affirmation.  Be their fan. Cheer for them. Believe in them.  Focus in on the good things.  Spot the highs and get through the lows.  Go the extra mile.


2. Enjoy listening to them

Teenagers will talk, but usually on their terms.  Teenagers often don’t like eye to eye contact.  Try sitting along side them – perhaps in the car.  Enjoy it when they do talk.  They may well talk some more.  Saying sorry to them can help.


1. Enjoy loving them unconditionally

That’s how God deals with us.  Unconditional love is not the same as unconcerned love.  But it does mean that you teenager knows that whatever choices they make, whatever scraps they get into, however much you agree or disagree with their lifestyle, you will still love them.  Your expressions of love ought not to be tied to performance and achievement but to their status as a gift from God to you.  Enjoy loving them unconditionally, just as God loves you. 


Karen’s Top Tips

Pray for them
Get support
Be the adult


And our final readings

My child, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  Prov 2.1-5

Parents, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Eph 6.4

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