Last Saturday, February 4, I had the opportunity to conduct a workshop about Parenting Teenagers. Many who turned up for the workshop are parents of preteens, eager and ready to learn and do a good job guiding their teenagers when they arrive in a few years.
Here are some of the main takeaways from the workshop:
The key to any relationship is being accountable for our part in the relationship. It is important that we understand our own motivations and inclinations for parenting before we can venture to understand our teenager.
Your teenager is dealing with many significant influences in her life. She is a teenager, which means that she’s undergoing many physical and emotional changes. She is a Filipino, which means that her world at home will be vastly different from her world outside. Yes, she still doesn’t like your favorite vinegar sauce. She is Canadian, which means that the way she thinks and looks at the world will be from this point of view and I’m sure you know this by now because she has corrected you many times for being politically incorrect. She is also Christian, striving hard to makes sense of her commitment to God while learning how life works. Try to balance all these and add schoolwork, college application, your expectations and you have one overwhelmed, anxious teenager.
You don’t have to be perfect, but you should do some G.R.E.A.T. Parenting
- Get ready. Parenting teenagers will be challenging, It will require a lot of wisdom emotional energy, tough love, self-confidence. Be ready, it it turns out to be not as hard as you expect then be thankful, if it is, at least you were not surprised. Give time. if you think that parenting teenagers will require less time, think again, the time demands will be different but it will still take your time.
- Relate and Communicate. Cultivate your relationship early in childhood. It becomes the foundation for the teenage years. The more involved we are with their world, the more likely they will come to us for guidance when it matters and for encouragement when they hurt. Also, don’t lose your sense of humor. Don’t take yourself to seriously and enjoy your family.
- Educate yourself. Any quest will bring up many questions. Your teen will evaluate and question faith, authority and many other norms. Think about how you will answer their queries on tattoos, body piercings, dating and relationship, etc. Think about our reasons for either saying yes or no. Is it biblical, cultural or simply personal? And don’t be afraid to admit if you don’t know the answer. Learn together with your teen.
- Adapt you parenting style. We always say that our children grow up so fast. However, we often fail to recognize that our teens are no longer babies. Teenagers want to be given the chance to be trusted so let’s give them the chance to earn it. Will listening be better than telling? Is asking better than lecturing? Also, choose the battles you will fight. Reserve your NO to the issues that really matter.
- Take the closer to God. The best legacy you can leave them is your faith in God. Education or possession, no matter how important, will not affect their eternity as their faith in God. As a parent, live your Christian life in such a way that your teen would want to be a Christian. Demonstrate to them the importance of prayer, the church and the Bible. Don’t just tell them, show them.
For a parent, the teenage years should not be dreaded but instead embraced as a great opportunity for learning and discipleship. Your teen is not the only one on a journey of faith, you are too. So trust God to give you the wisdom, love and patience as you go through this process and appreciate His work in the life of your teenager.