Every relationship experiences challenges in one season or another, including the ones we consider healthy. When we encounter this with our teens, we need not be shaken by this. Our adolescents are emerging into adults. The transitions that they endure produce growing pains. Some, we see and are privy to, and others are private.
While we experience the tumult of the teen years with our sons and daughters, it can feel as if we are going through our own teen angst all over again. As we have already experienced the peaks and pitfalls of that season, there are some ways that we can support our children. The Bible provides us with a manual for living amidst uncertainty.
While we may not know every answer for every matter, as believers, we possess all we need in the Person of the Holy Spirit. The indwelling power of God will equip us for what may seem impossible. Though it may seem like the third World War has erupted in our living room from time to time, we can embrace hope and confidence to stay the course for God’s design for relationships with our teens.
Often, teens feel their parents don’t understand what they are going through. They could be right at times. We don’t always see from their perspective or have familiarity with the current trends that may be impacting their life. Although we want our teens to hear and obey us, we may not win the war we’d hoped for when we remain authoritarian, even if we are right. Demonstrating empathy and embracing that as a place to connect and influence can go much further.
We are still parents, and we have a God-given responsibility for the oversight of our children’s well-being. Yet, we must recognize that God doesn’t rule us with an iron fist. His love and compassion encounter us and draw us into obedience, by relationship (Jeremiah 31:3). This relationship is not garnered by force, but rather by the empathy that Jesus has for us.
His willingness to become man, though still God, demonstrates His empathy and consideration for all we go through in this world. In love, He calls us, maturing us and making us more like Him as we yield to His Spirit.
Our Savior is fully aware of what we encounter in every sphere and every season of life. Jesus Himself endured grave challenges in His earthly lifetime, and He can help us through ours (Hebrews 2:18). Not only did He live a sinless and perfect life, but His example demonstrates that with Him all things are possible (Mark 10:27).
When we believe and place our trust in Him concerning our teens, He shows us how to approach our daily lives. He has already walked through our circumstances and is committed to guiding us in and around the spiritual and practical realities of what our families need.
While our teens may feel we are out of touch, this isn’t always true. We were once adolescents and also had our share of encounters that led us to the present. Whether it is the influence of our upbringing or what we’ve endured in life, our experiences shape how we think and the way that we live and parent.
We may feel shame about some of those experiences, not realizing that our authenticity can open communication channels with our teens. Our experiences may be different, but can be complementary, demonstrating empathy for what they endure, while also legitimizing our experiences in their eyes.
Many of these experiences, both the positive and the negative elements, have informed our choices. We don’t have to be governed by that, though. Our testimonies can serve as an example. Whether we failed miserably or experienced a measure of success, we likely faced the same or a similar path that our teens now experience. Our example and the testimony we can share aren’t limited to what to do but also encompass what to avoid.
While experience is often named the best teacher, there are some lessons we learned that we don’t want the next generation to repeat. God has equipped us with enough so we can share. It doesn’t mean that our teens will necessarily follow in our footsteps, but being honest with them breaks the stronghold that shame leverages.
Instead of keeping our mouths sealed in silence, the Holy Spirit will guide us in sharing what is appropriate and when. Doing so not only helps to interrupt patterns we don’t want to see continued but also agrees with the sentiments of Jesus. It acknowledges the Holy Spirit, not necessarily experience, as the Teacher to lead us into all truth (John 15:26, 16:13).
When we allow the nature of our history to inform our parenting approaches, we must remember that God knew us and our teens long before we became acquainted. He paired us together, whether by birth or adoption. He knew what was in us that our young people would need, as well as what He placed in them that we would require.
When we consider that God, our Father, is creative and masterful, it opens our eyes to notice where He is bringing goodness into our lives. This even happens through the challenges we encounter with our teens. Embracing them is one of the best responses that position us to learn and receive from God.
It seems counterintuitive, but it’s what the apostle James calls an opportunity to perfect patience (1:3-4). In doing so, our lives reflect the holistic work the Holy Spirit ushers into our lives. This perfecting, or making one whole, lacking nothing, is a process. It develops a spirit of excellence or a willingness to be a genuine example of the believer, in our thoughts where only God sees and the actions seen by all (1 Timothy 4:12).
That doesn’t mean that we are flawless, but the condition of our hearts reflects a willingness to flex with the Holy Spirit and follow Him in every area, even concerning our teens.
Finding support from teen counseling.
There are times, however, when we may require some outside help, whether we seek professional intervention for ourselves and our families. Teen counseling can be useful in helping us and our kids connect. Teen counseling can also support our sons and daughters in learning how to explore and identify their feelings.
The teen years can often be a turbulent time in life, marked by certain pressures. Teen counseling provides a safe space for emerging young adults to process their experiences and develop language to communicate them healthily.
Sometimes, there may be deeper issues where areas of emotional pain that need to be addressed, uprooted, and healed. While we as parents have noble intentions, we cannot administer teen counseling ourselves. Often, we are too close to the situation that affects our adolescents and others in our family.
Other times, we contribute to the issues where our kids may be struggling. The Lord loves and cares abundantly for all of us, enough to provide the resources to help our teens embrace counseling, learn to cope, and receive healing even through present difficulties.
Next steps for pursuing teen counseling.
Wherever you are in your parenting journey, remember that God has you and your times in His hands (Psalm 31:15). He has brought you this far by His grace and through faith. Although the road ahead may not be completely clear, trust that the Holy Spirit is leading you and knows the way that you take (Job 23:10).
Pause for a moment, and search the resources on this site. Schedule an appointment for yourself or make an appointment for teen counseling so that you and your family can embrace what is God’s next best step for you.
“Mother and Daughter”, Courtesy of Sofatutor, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Teen Boy”, Courtesy of Talen de St. Croix, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Holy Bible”, Courtesy of Ben White, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Friends in a Field”, Courtesy of Melissa Askew, Unsplash.com, CC0 License