Discipling, No Not Disciplining, Teenagers

When we talk about parenting teenagers, our conversations run toward the issues and discipline needed for those “troublesome” years. We forget to talk about the disciplining that needs to happen during those “transformational” years. Yes, discipleship happens through all of their lives but, it is in the teen years that we start to develop patterns that follow us into our adult life. In Deuteronomy, it instructs parents to be teaching all the time. This teaching comes in many forms from role modeling, to discussions, to lessons. So what should we be teaching in each of these forms? Role modeling good spiritual growth habits to your teen is the best way to show them how easy it can be. If we don’t make our faith the number one priority in our life, why would our teens? They should see us reading our Bible, going to church, small group, doing personal devotions. Waking up before they do and getting in your personal devotion time is great (and I know there is a season for that) but, if they aren’t seeing us doing it, it didn’t happen. Another area is going to church, I LOVE to sleep, but I make it a priority to get up early on Sundays and go to church.This is showing teens, that church is important.

Discussions, these should happen throughout day with your teen. They are going to have tons of decisions and temptations every day. Each of these provides an opportunity to discuss Biblical responses to them. Now, whether they follow through with those responses is a different blog post. But, they are listening. You can build a solid relationship in spite of the lack of growth. Enjoy your teen.See the relationship as the ends, not the means. You are helping think through their responses and decisions in a way that is contrary to current culture, that will take time for them to process and own as their own. The change may come their sophomore year in college, or when they get married. If you have laid the foundation of a real, meaningful relationship with Christ, they will remember that.

Finally, we get to lessons, now if you’re a teen reading this you are already rolling your eyes, more school. But we as parents need to be in the habit of teaching lessons. These can come in two ways.First, is talking through and giving consequences for when they don’t make good choices. The second is teaching God’s word to your teen. We should be using Biblical references in our daily communication, but we should also leave some set apart time for focused Biblical learning. This can be in the form of family devotions, or Church led Bible study or youth group (shameless plug there). God’s word is the only thing that is truly transformational. To fully know God and His ways we have to know scripture. Can we learn about God through experience? Absolutely. Through His creation? Of course. Through other believers? Most definitely. But God’s Word is the primary means He gave us to make Himself and His plan of redemption known to us. Though that sounds easy enough, they won’t be! Don’t give up. Never stop trying, as difficult and as exhausting as it can be. There is a clock ticking inside that teenager who seems so unwilling to grow. God is working in his or her life. Take your frustrations to God. Don’t take it out on your teen. Be graceful and patient.

Cassi B
Director of Youth Ministries