As parents, we want to keep a good relationship with our kids as they become teens and young adults. Often however, without meaning to, we push our teens and older kids away from us. Are you aware of things you may be doing that will push your older kids away from you?
I believe that the biggest mistake that parents can make with their older teens and young adult kids is being too controlling!
Many times in our efforts to keep our teens (or young adults) from going prodigal, we parent in a way that tightly restricts and dominates them. This often backfires, as the teen pushes away.
Some ways of over-controlling:
*Don’t let them make any decisions on their own
*Don’t give them any freedom as they get older, and mature
*Continue to treat them as a child, rather than an adult
*Don’t give them choices about things
*Speak to them in a condescending tone.
As an adult, think how YOU would feel if someone treated you that way. You’d feel insulted, and probably rather resentful. So is it any wonder that our young people push away when we try to rein them in so tight?
If we follow the example Solomon sets in Proverbs, we would come along side our young people, as we would a fellow adult. With love we would warn them of natural consequences for poor choices. Solomon modeled for us how to influence our teens through love and respect.
When kids are young, it’s normal and right for us to control them. We choose what they eat, when they go to bed, what behavior is allowed, etc. That is stage one, and our goal in that stage (ages up to 5) should be to train them, and gradually lead them to stage 2, which is self-control. By the teen years, the goal is for them to reach stage 3, “God control”. We want them to live a life that is controlled by what God says is right or wrong.
Many parents, however, tend to get stuck in the control stage, and don’t let go. This leads to:
1. Teens that haven’t learned self-control.
2. Young people who are resentful because they are still being treated like a child.
3. Losing their hearts as they push away.
4. Losing the opportunity to influence them in their teen and young adult years.
As our kids begin their teens years, we should slowly start coming along beside them as an encourager and guide, rather than telling them what to do.
As we gently come along side to encourage and guide them we should:
*Teach them how to make decisions.
Show them how to make a list of the pros and cons when making important decisions, to pray about it, and to get counsel.
*Teach them responsibility.
They need to learn that their choices and actions bring consequences. They should know how to work hard and be reliable.
*Teach them self-control.
This starts when they are young, when we teach them to start controlling their emotions and attitudes. As they continue to grow up they need to learn to control their impulses, and to do what is right whether they feel like it or not.
*Teach them to have wise counselors.
*Listen when they come to you.
Don’t be so busy trying to plan your answer, that you fail to hear their heart.
*Don’t stress out when you fear they are making wrong choices.
Most young people will make mistakes. That’s how they learn. If you’ve trained them well though, these aren’t going to huge mistakes in big areas. OR, they will realize they’ve made a bad choice, and learn the hard way.
*Encourage them when they do mess up.
Don’t criticize, lecture, or condemn. They usually know when they have made a mistake, and have probably already suffered some of the consequences. The last thing they need is to hear us saying “I told you so”, or “You shouldn’t have…..”!
We still need to have boundaries and rules in the home for our young people, but at the same time, we need to balance that with some freedom. They earn that freedom as they show they are growing in responsibility, and as you earn their trust.
Ask God to give you wisdom to have the balance needed to have influence with your teens and older years, and keep their hearts!