Even with examples laid out before us it is still difficult at times to know exactly what to do and say to get our teens to listen and really hear Truth. Though it may be possible to force a person to physically hear, the most powerful impact (influence) on a person’s thinking requires some kind of connection or relationship. Proverbs 20:5 teaches that people of understanding will “draw out” the deep things going on in the hearts of others.
When a teen lies to you, you have a few options, including ignore it, yell at him, or lay down consequences. There may be times when each of those options seem appropriate. I find that a fourth response is best in the long run.
Identify with his motivations and connect him with Truth. I think it is healthy to admit that none of us are very far away from any particular sin. Many times it is very difficult for teens to accept correction or responsibility for their actions when it is so easy to point the finger at some flaw in their parent, or pastor, or sibling (or whoever is applying the pressure at the moment). Biblically the key to solving strife (relational conflict) is humility and truth. That is well stated in Ephesians 4:15 as truth wrapped in love. Wrapping truth in love provokes thinking about motivations of the heart, at least in-part, because when acting in humility and love we take attacking and offending out of the picture and join with them in the discussion of truth. Biblical truth becomes the light in the situation and does the work of revealing the heart. As a parent I am then freed up to love and help them (sometimes with consequences) learn how to implement truth in their actions.
Mark Massey is director of Victory Academy for Boys, Amberg, Wisconsin. Take a look at VictoryAcademyForBoys.org
One of the struggles we face as we work with our teenagers is pushing our great wisdom on them at the moment of their struggle. While sometimes it is crucial to parent “in the moment,” many times they just aren’t ready to hear it. They just made a decision to think a certain way and you are telling them that their thinking is wrong. That is hard for all of us to hear. Proverbs 20:5 is my go to verse that challenges me to be patient, kind, and as understanding as possible in an effort to have my teen open his heart. Stepping back and letting the dust settle often reveals a door of opportunity to discuss the deep things of his heart. The problem arises when our idols get in the mix and we get offended or impatient and begin to demand their change or belief in what “great wisdom” we have to say.
Truth is that most, or at least many times our teens know what is right and wrong, the difficulty is found in learning how to go against feelings and live what is right. The flesh is just so powerful and they are at a stage of life where feelings and limited knowledge foment deficiencies in their decision making.
Take a step back. Wait a bit. Remember that almost all problems can be given a little time. Think through your own version of their struggle and pray for God’s wisdom to find that right moment to positively challenge their thinking. You are their mentor, God’s influencer for Him.