In our fast-moving electronic age, kids grow up quicker and want to be free earlier in life than their parents did. Parents often find it difficult to keep pace with the lightning changes in their children, and as a result, conflicts come.
It seems that one day a child is in the parents’ arms and the next day he or she is beginning school, bringing friends home, and helping around the house, starting Little League or Brownies— in general, a pretty good kid. Then, suddenly, the roof caves in! He or she begins to talk back, question and break rules, and become at times sullen and noncommunicative. The teen years have arrived, catching the parents completely off guard.
There can be many areas of conflict: their friends (many of whom the parents don’t approve), choices related to clothing and personal grooming, dating and other social activities, chores around the home, allowance, use of the family car, school and homework, discipline.
Because of such conflicts, a communication barrier may develop. Parents find it difficult to talk things over with their children. They delay explanations of crucial physical and mental changes, especially in the areas of sex and reproduction. Controls are tightened by the parents and the teenager fights even harder for independence. The gap widens; they become antagonists—and the battle goes on.
When talking with parents in conflict with their children, urge them to put their house in order spiritually. Then:
1. Advise them that in order to have the peace of God in the home, they must have the peace of God in their hearts. This comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Explain “Steps to Peace with
2. Encourage parents to take a firm stand for Christ in the spirit of Joshua, who said, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). They must determine to have a home that exalts Christ.
3. Suggest that they learn to rely on God’s resources, available through prayer. They should covenant with God for the wisdom He offers (James 1:5) and claim His help for the proper spiritual development for their children (Philippians 4:6). They must learn to pray with their children as well as for them.
4. Urge parents to build the life of the family around the Word of God, helping each member to understand the issues of life from its viewpoint. Encourage them to:
A. Seek each one’s conversion to Christ.
B. Center family activities around a Bible-teaching church.
C. Be willing to deal patiently with the children’s spiritual doubts.
5. Parents must establish rules governing the home which are equitable, reasonable, and “keepable.” Respect is learned through responding to authority. Be as flexible as you can where the children’s identity, independence, and self-esteem are concerned. Teenagers need a lot of support and encouragement. Conflicts are never resolved by argument or fighting.
6. Parental example and stability influence children greatly. A good, happy marriage will do more to prepare young people for life than rules and surveillance. A consistent demonstration of Christian virtues such as love, patience, understanding, encouragement, and trust will provide the anchor the teenager needs in stressful and changing times. The beliefs of the parents should always be reflected in actions, especially in the home.
7. Consistent communication with the teenager will do much to avoid conflict. This includes not only meaningful conversation, but time spent in other meaningful activities with each teen, individually. This personal attention will help create a positive self-image and will fortify family solidarity. Don’t be afraid to show physical affection. A fatherly hug or a motherly kiss will help the child feel accepted and loved.
“Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 12:28, NIV).
“The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him” (Proverbs 20:7, NIV).
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise— ‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1–4, NIV).
“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21, NIV).
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996