Adolescence, even for the most fortunate young person, is still a difficult season of life. Kids are dealing with a lot of pain, stress, and change in their lives. It is our responsibility as parents to acknowledge this reality. We must not ignore what our kids are experiencing. Rather, we must be proactive in helping them deal with adolescence. Still, we can’t be helpful if we are not able to “read the signs” that inform us about the adolescent experience. This is why we need to strive to better understand our teenagers. Here are my top four tips:
1. Become a Student of the Culture.
It’s up to you, as a parent, to know who and what is influencing your kids. It’s going to take your time, energy, and money to do so. But, if we want to help our kids move through the adolescent years into adulthood successfully, we have to do our homework to understand how our current culture is shaping our children’s morals and values.
2. Observe Your Teen’s Closest Friends.
There will come a point in the life of your teenager when his or her friends will become the most influential voice they hear. Most likely, your kids will tend to hang out with a cluster of two or three of their best friends. The rule of friendship among adolescents operates in such a way that your kids will conform to the interests, behaviors, and values of their closest friends. What this means to parents is that you should be aware that your kids will be involved in the interests, behaviors, and values of their closets friends — or they’ll change friends. Learning about a kid’s closest friends means learning much about the kid himself.
3. Understand Your Changing Relationship with Your Teen.
Teenagers still want to have relationships with their parents. After all, where else will they go when they need money?! Seriously, the older your kids get, the more they will move from dependence on you to a state of independence from you. But they still want your presence in their lives. Just keep in mind that although they may not say “I love you” as much as they used to, it. doesn’t mean they don’t love you anymore.
4. Be Patient with Adolescent Faith Development.
A teen who expresses questions and doubts about their faith, or seems bored with church doesn’t typically hate God. As kids progress through adolescence, they begin to think more like adults. This means they examine their faith from an adult-like perspective — which gives rise to doubting and questioning. This is actually a healthy, important part of becoming an adult, and of developing a mature faith that will carry them through their adult lives! As parents, we need to create the atmosphere in our homes where our kids can struggle with faith issues safely and with lots of love, acceptance, and guidance.