It can also be the most encouraging phase when they become Christians. My two older girls were baptized at the age of 13 so their teen years were easy, but obviously it does not always work that way. Ideally, in most cases, if we have done a good job in the younger and pre-teen years, our children should enter the teen ministry wanting to become Christians. As I said though, it does not always happen that way. Sometimes it is due to bad parenting, the child’s own nature, or special circumstances out of our control.
1. A Second Baptism
For the parents that is! Our children’s teenage years can be a new conversion for us. We may think we are doing fine, we may have been disciples for a long time, we may have fallen into a sense of false security, and then, bam! Our children become teenagers; they may start studying the Bible, and confessing our sins along with theirs. Things can become sticky and uncomfortable. Family secrets are revealed. Sins we may have hidden from the outside world have been obvious to our children, and now we are confronted.
How we handle that process (and it is a very healthy one) will determine our children’s salvation as well as ours. If we are humble and vulnerable, this can be the best time of refreshing for the whole family, culminating in our child’s baptism. If we miss that stage though, we may sadly end up like Eli (1 Samuel 2: 27-36). He may have been a famous leader, but he put his sons before God. He spoiled them and they ended up lost.
As our children reach the teenage years and most probably start studying the Bible, let us make a decision that there will be no secrets, that we will be humble and open for the sake of our family. My fourth child is turning 13 next month and has started studying the Bible. She is also extremely outspoken and bold, so there is no hiding. I am bracing myself. I have been through this three times already. I know what’s in store, but it’s all good!
2. Unconditional Love
As difficult, moody, rebellious, as they may be at times, let’s keep loving them unconditionally. Let’s deny ourselves and keep telling them we love them, daily. Keep being affectionate, even if they don’t look like they want a hug. They need it.
Jesus chose teenagers as his first disciples. They messed up. Yet he showed them grace and gave them another chance. In John 21:15 onwards, Jesus disciples Peter, but as he does so, he is warm and reaffirming.
3. Train Them
2 Timothy 1:5: Timothy was a teenager trained by his mother and grandmother. Even though there is no evidence of a father’s influence, the women in Timothy’s life did not abdicate their role. He turned out to be an exceptional young man.They trained him spiritually with the Scriptures and did not hold back.
As our children become older and more independent, it can be tempting to give up on praying with them, and having family devotionals. Their life gets busier, they have more school work, yet it is important to keep those priorities straight.
We should also train our children to become responsible young adults, able to manage their own finances in a responsible way, take care of their own needs (cooking, shopping cleaning, laundry), be good students without us having to push them, able to handle relationship conflicts, relationships with the opposite sex, etc. Our goal in training our kids at this stage of their life is to get them ready for the big wide world and a life away from home.
In order to do that and be effective, we have to live what we preach. Setting a good example ourselves will ensure success. The last thing we want to hear from our kids is that we are hypocrites!
See more: Parenting Very Small Children (0-3) | Parenting Small Children (4-8) | Parenting Pre-teens (9-12)