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Taking the phrase “I’m trying to get my teen to go ____” out of your vocabulary

I often hear, “I’m trying to get my teen to go ____” (fill in the blank as to where) and I always ask, “What do you mean you’re trying? Why are you making it an option? Aren’t you the parent?”  Sure, your teen may not like having to go wherever it is you want them to go, be it a counseling appointment, small group, mediation session, or even a family outing, but chances are they’ll be ok once they get there.

However, there are exceptions.  Maybe once they go, let’s say, visit that counselor you want them to see, they may not necessarily like nor connect with him or her.  So, you try someone new. Another example is, let’s say they don’t like the choice you’ve made for a family outing then have them pick where you go next.  If they say, “I don’t know!” then your reply is simple: “Then stop complaining!”

Of course, in all things, it IS important that you communicate.  You do, or should, want your teen to share their opinion and thoughts on a matter. You don’t want to be a tyrant.  But remember, YOU have the ultimate say.

Please keep in mind, I talk to teens all the time, that’s my job and privilege, so I know what they want and what they expect out of you, or me for that matter.  They admit they may not like a firm, yet loving hand, but they certainly respect it.  Does that surprise you?

Here is the truth, and brace yourself: I don’t think your teen is the issue, I think you are (However, there ARE some exceptions to the rule, IF you are truly being the parent).  Some parents just don’t want to fight, so they give in~ your teen sees that as weak, trust me.  Or a problem that is on the rise is that some parents don’t want their teen not to like them. Again, your teen sees this as weak. 

You are the parent~ they are the child.  This doesn’t mean be bossy, but it means doing what is best for them, even at the risk of losing your comfort.


Our Responsibilities…

What would you say are the top three responsibilities of a parent? 

I believe it’s: To help our children understand and then fulfill God’s purpose for their lives, to guide them in the way they should go and the importance of “staying the course”,   and finally to help them make good choices and comprehend the reason they must make those choices. Without good choices the previous two can get flushed down the toilet.

Of course, each of us can have a different top ten list and no matter what the list, this can be a tall order for us to fill right, especially since many of us struggle with these for our own lives. 

For the purpose of this blog, I’d like to quickly focus on the first responsibility listed.  I feel, and experience has taught me, that if we are successful in fulfilling this one, then the rest are more than likely to follow. 

Think about it: If a person believes they have a purpose in this life, and important role to play, then won’t they want to “stay the course” and make good choices?  Sure, we all, especially youth since this is all new to them, will fall and make mistakes but they mustn’t live in those mistakes or use them as excuses.

I urge you to please spend some time focusing on these responsibilities and do whatever it takes to help you children stay on the right path and live out their calling, even if that means having to make touch choices or having them mad at you~ their fury will only last a short while~ I promise.


“I really expect the parent to be the parent…”

The following is recent comment to the blog entry: W hat do you expect out of your teen?

This comment offeres an additional view- and expanded view on the topic.  It is well written and I didn’t want it to be overlooked by our readers so I have posted it as a stand-alone blog entry… I hope you enjoy and we are interested in hearing your thoughts

I think of expectations a little differently. I really expect the parent to be a parent. I expect parents to be pay attention and listen well and not to be focused on being their child’s best friend.

 Good parenting, not perfect, but good parents will reap that reward later. Parents tend to be either impatient, selfish or in denial. While we parent, we are supposed to be the adult in charge. Not the all powerful and do as I say, not as I do parent. We need to lead by example.

In our current culture, we can and do put stress on our children to hurry up and “get it”, get the sarcasm, have common sense, get the nuances, get the ‘big picture’ and produce. Or there are those of us who like saving their children from having to do anything. They do, answer, and decide everything for the child up until the child leaves the nest. I don’t want my child mad at me or hate me and they LOVE me when I do their laundry or pay for everything. Then that young adult, when first out on their own, can’t handle the smallest of decisions or take on talking to adults or having phone conversations or even being the slightest bit assertive if their hamburger is undercooked. Okay so what’s the balance?

Think back to when you were a kid. What was missing? What was good? We can all learn from the past and that is one of the best tools we have. If not your parents good and bad habits, were there other role models that opened your eyes?

Parents also need good team habits and consistency. Don’t talk bad about the other parent in front of the child. Don’t call a decision that your spouse makes ’stupid’ or overrule a spouse. Even when you don’t agree, it can be handled in private. Yes privacy – a wonderful thing. Children and young adults do not need to see the foundation cracking under pressure. Important issues should be discussed well in advance. In decisions where neither parent agrees, the parent that says ‘no’ should always win. No’s always win.

So I guess what I’m saying is that, what we expect from our teen should not exceed what we expect from ourselves. We need to expect good forethought from each parent, good follow through, good consistency behaviors and good supportive loving and above all forgiveness that only Jesus can teach. After all, we are all individuals and we only have the blessing of the gift from God for a few years under the same roof. We need to recognize the individualism and not squish it. Realize the good, the ways to improve, asking for input from them (i.e. What do you think you should do, what do you expect me to say?), making them think for themselves. Fostering all of this and not taking any easy or following what another parent is doing will bring upon respect for the way you make choices on their behalf and thus give them a self respect that was taught from the foundation up.

~ Elaine, mother of 4

What do you expect most out of your teen?

There are so many things we wish for our kids.  We want them to graduate high school, to possibly go on to college, tech school or even join the military.  We want them to grow up to be “productive” adults, to possibly have a family someday, to have and hold down a great job.  We even want them to grow up to be better than we are. 

All of this is wonderful.  It really is.  But the question is:  How is all of this attained?

In my opinion, the answers are simple: One day, one character trait, one choice at a time.  It’s our job to help them wake-up each morning knowing it’s a new day; to show them and help them learn kindness, selflessness, sympathy, empathy, courage, responsibility, integrity, self-respect, the respect of others, modesty, and the list goes on.  We are also to teach them that every choice affects another and every choice matters.

The question I’d like to pose is, what do you expect most out of your teens? Is it an achievement (to be top of their class), great character, staying drug free, or even refraining from sex?  What is it?  Whatever it is, is what you will invest your time most in to.

For us, we spend a great deal of time teaching our children that they are valuable to us and to God, that they have a purpose in life and that purpose stretches beyond what they will do for a living.  We teach them to respect others, mean what they say, look out for the underdog, and never give up- in that order.

I’m not saying we’re the standard by any means.  Everyone has to parent, not betraying their own conscience.  I’m simply challenging you to re-examine what you expect most, then work towards that goal.   However, please be balanced and not expect too much.  Don’t live vicariously through them and don’t expect perfection or you will be sorely disappointed. 

My hope is that, above all else, you challenge them and guide them into being all they are meant to be, starting with character and letting all else follow.

It’s no easy task, but you can do it.


Are you willing?

I’d like to explore the idea that it’s ok to allow your teenagers to dictate to you how “it’s going to be.”

Times have changed.  Cost of living has gone up, electronics have become abundant, what’s allowed on regular television if much more graphic, movie ratings have lowered their standards making it that what was once rated “R” is now rated “PG”.

  So many things have changed.

I used to say that teens have changed and maybe that’s true to some degree.  However, I think it’s much more accurate to say that parenting styles have changed.  In my opinion, and don’t get angry, I feel parents have allowed their teens to become adults before their time.  It’s become less about parenting and more about being house buddies.  If this is the case, then OF COURSE teens have changed.

We, as parents, need to take responsibility for what part we play in the lives of our children.  I don’t mean to say that every mistake or attitude that comes from our kids is our fault.  I’m implying something greater:  I’m implying that our kids look to us for answers.  They may not ask the questions aloud, but they silently watch us to see what our next move will be.

For instance, if you tell you teen they can’t have their phone, is it true that all they have to do is throw a fit and you’ll give in?  Will you tell yourself that you’d rather deal with letting them off the hook then have to face their wrath? 

If you know your teen is smoking, is your answer, “Well, I can’t control them.”?

Your teen may seem peaceful for the moment if you allow this but I can promise you one thing, sticking your head in the sand only fuels something inside of them.  they secretly tell themselves, “I’m not worth the trouble.”

Be willing to stand firm for the sake of your teens.  Be willing to be the parent first and the friend second.  Be willing to do what’s right even if it hurts.  If you do, I guarantee you will offer your teens the answer they are looking for:  I AM WORTH IT!



Rules and boundaries are important for teens.

Just because teens want and need freedom does not mean for you to give it to them completely. I know for me, I lost respect for my parents because I knew I could get away with basically anything. Yes, they had rules but they weren’t enforced. They threatened us with punishments, but never really followed through with them and I knew they wouldn’t. I knew that if I didn’t do the dishes I’d get yelled at but I wouldn’t care and someone else would end up doing it for me. That’s only one of many examples.

Teens like to push limits. They like to see what they can get away with. They’re not stupid; they know how to work the system.

If you’re a parent who has basically done away with rules or punishments, then sit down with your teen and give them some tough love. Tell them that things are going to be different, and that there will be punishments. Please, please, please don’t make the mistake of empty threats. Yes, your teen will most likely put up a fight, but isn’t it worth it if you gain back their respect and the rightful authority in your parent-teen relationship?

If you’re on the other end of the spectrum and are insanely strict, please understand that teens do need freedom. They need to feel like they are growing up and that you do trust them. Learn to respect them, otherwise they will go crazy. 

In either case, teens need to earn trust to have that freedom.

Finally, if there are two parents in the house, sit down together and set up your rules and punishments together BEFORE talking with your teen. It won’t work if one parent undermines the other. For example: if I wanted to go watch a rated R movie, I would ask my stepdad because my mom wouldn’t let me and he wouldn’t care. If my mom got mad, I would just say that I did ask permission and he said it was okay.

It’s harder if you’re dealing with a split family, but do the best you can. If you aren’t civil with the other parent, then just be sure that your home if unified and be gracious if you sense attitude when your teen comes home. It’s not easy to transition from one set of rules and then to a completely different set.

Don’t get discouraged if there are arguments about it. Be persistent; your kids need to know that you have the authority and they need to learn to respect it.  They will appreciate it in the end.

~ Sheena, 19


Not That Complicated. (Or is it?)

Ah, teenagers! Strange creatures, some may say. They can be hard to understand, and some find them hard to love. They can seem to be so complicated, unreachable, and hardened, yet hollow. These teenagers whose lives can be so full of anger and pain may seem hopeless to even the greatest of men, but these are not hopeless lives.  Sure, they may be complex, but not hopeless. Our job as parents is to realize this and help them do the same as best we can… it’s not as complicated as one may think.  Give it a try and let me know what changes you see.