Parenting teens is hard. I know because I have some. I also know from coaching parents
long before my kids were big enough to cause that kind of struggle in my life. Before that I
was privileged to be a high school teacher—I LOVED teens when I could be an outside
source of listening ear and encouragement. Parenting is harder. What are your struggles?
Please comment here so I can continue to help you.
Here are 8 core philosophies that I believe are essential to moving forward with healthy
1. Teens are people. They need and deserve love and respect. Try to have some
compassion as they try to figure out who they are, what they believe, and what their
place is in this world.
2. It’s a self-focused time, but that isn’t a character flaw. It’s more of a development
“bubble”. Cynthia Tobias, a favorite teen specialist of mine, talks about this as part of
growing up. Try not to worry, because they won’t stay completely self-absorbed.
Try to lead with the part that’s about them to get their attention, and ignore what they
missed even though they were right.there.the.whole.time.
3. It’s not about you. Ever feel personally attacked? Teens have a knack for hitting us
where it hurts, whether it’s a sideways comment about how you aren’t home enough
or don’t make enough or its your fault they don’t have friends. Some digs hurt even
more because they are sensitive areas for you. For me, it’s this feeling that “I am not
enough.” I can’t stand it when others didn’t think I did my best and gave all I had, and
my teens push my buttons like they made them personally. Try not to react, but to
pray about that personal wound you have.
4. It’s not about you, unless it IS. Take some time to reflect how you can connect with
your teen. Evaluate a quick checklist: am I too hard on them, not loving them well,
criticizing too much, expecting the wrong things, etc. Feed the “love meter” with
THEIR love language. Slow down your own agenda so you can love well.
5. Enter their world. It’s a scary place for sure, but it is a sure-fire way to bump into
them. Play their game. Ask about their passions. Talk their language. Understand
their world. Is it hard? Heck yeah! But there will be years later where you will miss
them and would be willing to listen to them talk about anything.
6. Listen more than you talk. Ask questions. Be curious in a nonjudgmental way. Truly
listen to what they are saying (and not saying) and what their body language says.
7. Stop and be available when they want you. Teens pick the least opportune times to
talk! Ok- I am pretty sure they don’t mean to do this, but they still do it. It’s late at
night or when I am walking out the door, or as soon as I opened the laptop to get
that one thing done. But you can’t recreate a moment that has passed with a
teen—so take a deep breath and smile and open your ears.
8. Lean into God for the power to love them well. Only God knows you and your teen
so well and can give you the ultimate advice, tricks, and tips to connect in a powerful
way. Not only that, but the power of the Holy Spirit (in you when you accept Jesus as
your Savior) will comfort you, nudge you, convict you, and give you the words.
Galatians 5 talks about the fruit of the Spirit, which is what you experience when you
surrender completely. Joy with your teen? Patience? Kindness and Self-control?
Yep, God’s got that. Don’t hesitate to cry out to God for help and power to love well.
What did I miss? What else do you think is important? Feel free to check out our Facebook
page for Facebook Lives about parenting teens and more!