For most parents when their children are young it is easy to have a close relationship. Hugs, prayer time, the words "I love you" all come very easily with young children. However as the teen years advance, relationships between parent and child can suffer. Whether a father and daughter who rightfully find close affection a bit more awkward or a father and son who have a growing difference in interests, or perhaps it is a mom who is struggling to allow her "little boy" to find the independence of being a young man, parent / teen relationships can be complicated at times. However as parents continue to find the need to exercise control over their teenagers with rules, standards and limitations, relationships becomes all the more important.
Loving relationships are the glue that hold families together and help smooth over the arguments, struggles and growing pains that every family faces during those teenage years. The principles of the Bible apply at home just as they do in relationships at work and church. Principles of love in 1 Cor. 13 such as thinking no evil, assuming the best, not holding grudges etc. need to be adhered to. There are many other relationship principles as well such as the principles of reconciliation found in Matthew 5 and other places. We can study principles such as "Don't let the sun go down on your anger, don't let your anger lead to sin." (Eph. 4:26) and so many more that can and should be found.
Take time to build relationships. Find common ground and utilize it. Go out for coffee or shakes (food is almost always common ground) watch sports together, learn to play a video game. Perhaps you hunt or fish, sew or bake, whatever you can find to engage in with the goal of building the relationship, do it!
Don't only spend time when there is an issue. Make "deposits" in their lives as often as you can by spending that time with them, saying "I love you" or sending them a text from across the room letting them know you're proud of them. These deposits allow you to make "withdrawals" and yet not damage the relationship when there are disagreements or discipline issues.
If rules and regulations are enforced in a teen's life without an on-going love infused relationship, rebellion will be the result.
What ways have you nurtured and enhanced the relationship with your teen lately? Why not shoot them a text right now and invited them for ice cream soon?
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Matthew 5:14 is where Jesus says, “Ye are the light of the world.” We say, “amen” and continue on or rededicate ourselves to the task of evangelizing our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the far reaches of our world. Rightly so; we should! But fulfilling the Great Commission is a broad task that is spread among many. We should all pray about it and consider it, but all are not specifically called to go to Judea, Samaria or the farthest corners of the world. We often personalize the commission and refer to “our” Jerusalem where we live. That is also helpful and challenging. I would like to propose that we take another step back and recognize that the great commission includes our families! Our Jerusalem is right where we are, whether that is at the office, at church, out shopping, or in our homes. It is interesting to me that the intimate knowledge of how Dads and Moms and children really live when the front door is closed has profound impact on what those within that home come to believe as true and thus live. Any difference in our teaching and actions when we are on one side of our front door and the other is viewed by others as blatant hypocrisy. Dewey Bertolini, in Escaping the Subtle Sellout, says that “we have a credibility crisis” in our communities. I go further (and I think Bertolini would agree), we have a credibility crisis in our families. As I evaluate my own influence with my children, I get a frog in my throat. Am I a light, a purifying influence, a dispeller of darkness in my own home? Am I living in a way that provokes my children to love God with all their hearts? Am I seeing my children “buy into” the True and the Living God? How about my wife? Is she being purified and enlightened by me? Before you or I can answer these questions, we need to know what God means when He calls us to be light.
Paul, in Ephesians 5:8-9 writes of how, or what we do that makes us “shine” as light in the darkness of our world. He finishes verse eight with, “walk as children of light.” Verse nine defines that walk as a life that is lived as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in that person. That result is a life lived with all goodness, righteousness, and truth. That is the life that shines! What does all goodness, righteousness, and truth mean in the here and now?
Paul’s statement in verses eight and nine is a synopsis statement within his larger explanation (chapters 4-6) of how we are to flesh-out the doctrines taught in the first three chapters of Ephesians. In chapter 4:18-20 Paul refers again to the children of light (those who have been enlightened by Christ to a new way to thinking and living). He then proceeds to tell us about this new way of life (the new man) that is characterized by forgiving, giving, edifying, patience, calmness, honesty, kindness, and tenderheartedness. This is what being light is all about. Chapter 4:32 and 5:1-2 give the definitive example: Christ. We are to love others (even our spouse, even our children, even our parents) like Christ loves them. Period.
Light is explained in Ephesians 4-5 as originating from Christ (5:14), so for us to be light, we must get it from being with Christ (His Word and His Spirit). Light is also the antithesis of darkness. Being light then is being different from those who don’t know Christ. Different in the way we handle life. Different in the way we think. As a father maintains self-control (see temperance in Galatians 5:23, 2 Peter 1:6) when a child spills the milk, or breaks new digital camera. . ., he is a light burning brightly! As a mom answers with a kind voice (see Ephesians 4:29,31-32) when a child (or husband) has “pushed her buttons,” she has dispelled the darkness in her home. As a dad patiently helps his child understand how and why she should be kind to those who don’t give her her way, he becomes the purifying influence that she needs him to be. That dad is light. The mom that answers the phone call from the prodigal daughter can be light by her kind (which may require firmness), tenderhearted, forgiving (Ephesians 4:31-32) spirit. That is being real light, which is a result of walking near THE LIGHT. Being the light is what our families need. If there is darkness there, the need is more light! More light is also what our community needs, and our world. Be that light!
Transfer that thought over to our families. Am I, and are you shining as a bright light within our families?
I can only provoke my children to love God as much as I do!
Around 25 years ago I heard a sermon that stuck with me through many years of dealing with struggling teens. It was from Hebrews 11, the “hall of faith” chapter. The gist of it was that People are people, God is God and Miracles are miracles. God who is God can take People who are just people and do a miracle so that when people see it all they can say is Praise God that is a miracle. This thought has encouraged me over and over as I worked with teens who were teens. Perhaps you’ll take some time to study through the thoughts below and be encouraged in your family’s situation.
Remember that No matter who you are dealing with, God is able to work in them both to “will and to do his good pleasure.” He can take your weaknesses and theirs and show his power through them and do exceedingly and abundantly above all you ask or think in order to use the situation for his purposes, bless your lives and get glory for himself.
1. People are People – Hebrews 11
2. God is God
A miracle is God doing the super natural, the unexplainable, the impossible in order to show his power and get glory for himself.
God showed his power in all these ways while on Earth:
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Author & Editor
Author and Editor
We're a group of folks who love helping teens and families. We also love learning and sharing what God has taught us in our over 50 cumulative years of working with families and teens.