Parenting Your Teen with Calm, Confident Leadership

Today I will be speaking to a gathering of parents at a youth rally in Livingston, LA.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to encourage, challenge, and equip these parents!  Working with teens and their parents has become one of my great passions in life, and every opportunity is a genuine blessing.  (Even when I am doing so with worsening bronchitis!)

Here are the key points from my presentation today:

1. YOUR TEEN REALLY DOES WANT TO LIVE WELL. (Despite whatever evidence you have seen that seems to indicate otherwise.)

2. God chose YOU to be the parent of this teen.  This means YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO LEAD YOUR TEEN WELL.

Five Key Parenting Lessons from the Father of the Prodigal:

1. He modeled healthy living to his son over the years.

2. He respected his son’s need to make his own choices.

3. He never gave up hope, even when his son willfully set off down the wrong path.

4. He did not run after his son.  He ran to meet him.

5. He didn’t beat up his son for being foolish.  He allowed him to pay the price for his foolishness, and eagerly showed him how to recover his life once he was broken and humbled by his consequences.

Are you parenting by faith? Or by fear?

Are you a proactive parent? Or a reactive parent?

As a parent, are you timid? Overbearing? Confident?

Tune In Before You Turn It Off:

– Practice “Judo Parenting” (Thanks to ScreamFree’s Hal Runkel for this concept.)  Don’t fight against your kids, risking alienation and damaged relationship.  Instead, connect with them where they are, applying guidance through that connection to lead them to the healthiest place you can.

– That Loud Noise Coming from the IPod May Be a Cry for Help!  Be very careful about simply dismissing vile movies, music, etc.  If they really relate to it, you are essentially dismissing them in the process.  Instead, find out how they connect with it, and how it touches them.  If you can display calm and loving acceptance of them and their interests in the midst of unpleasant music, obnoxious games, weird YouTube videos, or disturbing movies, you’ll be amazed how much your kids will tell you.

– Don’t Expect Them to Turn It Off Until They Understand Why.  Your job is not to protect them from the evils of worldly media (which are legion).  Sure, you can make them turn it off while you are around, but they will just turn it back on and get better at keeping it from you.  Your job is to empower them with the right tools of insight and spiritual health so they can make wise, tough choices without your direct protection.  Equip them through sharing your source of spiritual strength – God’s Word, living it as a model for them to see, and nurturing their engagement in regular spiritual disciplines.

– Regularly Invite Your Teens to Share Their Favorite Media with You.  Offer times with your kids where they select the music, movies, games, etc, with a promise from you that they won’t be criticized or punished for their choices (although you should reserve the right to set some standards as to what is off-limits for them).  The only requirement is they must tell you: 1. why they like it, 2. what it means to them, and 3. what they believe are the moral or life implications.  After they have shared with you, engage them in their thoughts, particularly regarding number 3, offering your own perspectives and direct Biblical guidance.  Work together to find a passage or two of Scripture that relates to their media choice.

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