How to Raise a Teenager Without Losing Your Sanity

Parenting a teenager is not easy! If you’re raising an adolescent and having an easy time of it—something’s probably wrong! Though not easy, successfully parenting a teenager is by no means impossible! With God walking along with you every step of the way, raising a teenager can be a wonderful and rewarding experience! Here are some ideas to help you along during the journey:

1. Understand that rules without relationships lead to rebellion. Without maintaining a needed balance between the two, the tension level at home will probably escalate! Kids need limits and boundaries and a supportive, loving relationship with their parents.

2. Choose your battles wisely or you will be battling all of the time. Some things are worth drawing a line in the sand over. Most things are not. One thing is certain, if you choose to battle over everything, even if you win—your home will end up being a miserable environment for everyone who lives there!

3. Break the no-talk rule before it breaks your family. Successful families talk. Communication is vital for maintaining a healthy family. It is true that both parents and kids experience times where they don’t want to talk. Yet, each family member needs to be intentional and responsible to make sure that silence isn’t the rule, but the exception in your home.

4. Use a strategy of teaching to swim rather than sending in the lifeboats! It’s a given that parents don’t want to see their kids experiencing the painful consequences of poor decisions. Yet, too many parents “send in the lifeboats” in order to rescue their kids (and themselves!) from living with the consequences. Unfortunately, when parents rescue, kids don’t learn. Teach your kids to “swim.” It may be more painful in the short term, but in the long run, your kids will learn important lessons that will lead them into successful adulthood.

5. Connect behaviors with appropriate consequences. Inappropriate consequences for bad behavior leads teenagers into frustration and rebellion. Kids own what they help to create, so parents will do well to think through consequences by including their teenagers in considering what appropriate consequences are.

6. Catch teenagers in the act of doing something good. So much of what teenagers hear from the adults in their lives focuses on the negatives: “Why didn’t you do what I asked?” “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” “I can’t believe you would do something so stupid.” An important truth to consider is everyone needs affirmation in order to thrive. Regular, genuine affirmation is one of the true hallmarks of a successful family.

7. Know who your teenager’s friends are. Many parents experience undue anxiety and frustration simply because they don’t know their kids’ friends. Strive to make your home a place where your kids and their friends want to hang out. Don’t “hover” but do engage your teenager’s friends in conversation. Learn their names, and get to know them. It will likely result in learning a lot about your own teenager.

8. Know who your friends are. One way to keep sane as a parent of a teenager is to know who to turn to in a time of difficulty or crisis. Who can you turn to when parenting gets difficult? If you don’t already know, find out and make a list to have on hand if the time comes when you need it.

9. Make your family fun! Never underestimate the power of fun in contributing to the success of your family! The family that plays together, stays together! Keep (and share) your sense of humor! Nothing turns off teenagers more quickly than the adult who has lost his or her sense of humor.

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Jim Burns

Jim Burns is the president of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has close to 2 million resources in print in 20 languages. He primarily writes and speaks on the values of HomeWord, which are: Strong Marriages, Confident Parents, Empowered Kids, and Healthy Leaders. Some of his most popular books are: Confident Parenting, The Purity Code, Creating an Intimate Marriage, Closer, and Doing Life with Your Adult Children. Jim and his wife, Cathy, live in Southern California and have three grown daughters, Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi; three sons-in-law, Steve and Matt, and Andy; and three grandchildren, James, Charlotte and Huxley.

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    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns, HomeWord seeks to advance the work of God in the world by educating, equipping, and encouraging parents and churches. Learn More »

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