When you're parenting a teenager, you know the struggle of trying to guide them with Christian values. How do you translate these values when your adolescent child is stressed at school, anxious about the opposite sex, or feeling depressed?
The first step is to listen. Much of the communication breakdown that happens between parents and teenagers is because both parties don't really take in what the other is saying. As a parent, you can try to be more patient during your talks with your teen, putting yourself in their shoes so you can understand what their concern is really about.
Once you listen and understand, you can then respond with appropriate advice. Here, we have gathered some of the most sensible and godly advice that Christian parents can give to their teenagers, depending on the situation. See how these messages can help you and your child throughout their adolescence.
1. When your teen is overwhelmed with schoolwork
Whether they're achievers, athletes, creatives, or less academically inclined, students get a lot of stress from school. Maybe they're worried about grades, cramming for exams, or pressured by multiple deadlines. In these situations, practical advice is really valuable. Teach them doable steps to manage their time, be productive, and stay healthy along the way (copy some expert tips here).
Above all, help them make time for a "God break." This is a daily time slot for pausing, breathing, and reflecting, guided by the Bible. It helps not only in restoring inner peace but also in rejuvenating their faith during hectic times.
2. When your teen struggles to fit in
Peer pressure really spikes during the teenage years. This can push your child to do things they are uncomfortable with or are un-Christianlike. Conversely, if they don't conform to youthful norms, they could be isolated, which can take a toll on their self-esteem. This is especially true for Christian teens, as faithful values are often seen as 'uncool' in young circles.
As a parent, you will want to talk to your teen about Christian values being a form of sacrifice -- a cross that we bear in today's world. Jesus lived a life of love and goodness despite his persecution. He stayed true to the promise of the Father. In the same sense, we must be prepared to encounter some level of rejection if we are to stay true to our faith.
However, this does not mean your child should be completely deprived of belongingness. Remind your teen that there are various kinds of crowds in any community. It's a matter of finding the people who share their Christian values. Perhaps start by joining Bible groups and fellowships, or even joining a worthy volunteer cause. As Proverbs 13:20-21 says, "Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. Trouble chases sinners, while blessings reward the righteous."
3. When your teen is depressed
Has your teen exhibited a gloomy or emotionless disposition lately? It could be a passing mood, or it could be clinical depression. Clinical depression is now recognized as a real health issue. When someone in the family suffers clinical depression, it is crucial that our prayers are paired with medical or psychological treatment from a professional.
Watch out for the known signs of depression. If you notice these in your teen, help them find a good counselor or psychologist. Apart from this, keep reminding your child that you are on their "team" -- that you are rooting for their triumph over this illness. This way, you don't force them to "just cheer up" (saying this only adds pressure to a depressed mind) but still express positive support for their healing.
4. When your teen experiences a failure (or a breakup)
A failing grade, an end to a relationship, a rejection from a college -- these are some of the normal failing experiences of any teenager. Yet no matter how common they are, it still hurts us as parents to see our child struggling with these. How do we comfort and encourage them to get back up?
One powerful way is to share our own experiences with failure, and how they turned out to be essential in our improvement. If your teen failed in a Math test, for example, tell them (perhaps with humor) how you also had academic difficulties but was able to overcome them. If your teen is reeling from a breakup, share about how you would never have met your soulmate had you not gotten over your former relationships.
Besides these, sprinkle many forms of Christian motivation throughout your teen's daily life. An inspiring wall art or an encouraging personal item can help lift their spirits as they strive to become better. We recommend the comfy pillow above and the useful coffee tumbler below.
5. When your teen starts exploring intimacy
Whether we like it or not, our teenagers will most likely start thinking about love, relationships, and sex. Tricky as they are, we cannot avoid these subjects -- our guidance is all the more needed here. So when you notice your teen talking more about crushes, being more concerned about their attractiveness, entertaining a girlfriend or boyfriend, or even being excessively secretive about their relationships, it may be time to have "The Talk." But what exactly do you say as a Christian parent?
For starters, try not to scare your child with the threat of fire and brimstone. Instead, emphasize that minimizing physical intimacy is something they are empowered to do. Say something like this: "Young people like you are not just slaves to your feelings and impulses. You have the power to say no until marriage. You have the power to say no when you feel uncomfortable. You have the power to protect your body and decide how you want to look, instead of just going with what's considered attractive.
This empowerment springs from the love of God. Why should you use your power to say no? Because you love God and this is His teaching. Why should you protect your body? Because you love God and this is your promise to Him."
Of course, you must also discuss the practical reasons to minimize intimacy, such as less risk of disease, no chance of accidental pregnancy, and none of the regrets that other teens have.
Even the Bible affirms this in 1 Corinthians 6:12: "I have the right to do anything... but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything, but I will not be." Such a powerful mantra for a young person on the cusp of making a decision.
What do you think of these Christian parenting messages? When it comes to guiding a teenager, we'll take all the godly help we can find -- so we'd love to hear your input and experiences, too! Share with us in a comment!