Christian Biblical Counsel: YOUTH, TEENAGERS, CHILDREN (Updated)

Teenagers

Helping Teens through Turbulent Times

by June Hunt

“They [adolescents] now seem to love luxury, they have bad manners and contempt for authority, they show disrespect for adults and spend their time hanging around places gossiping with one another. They are ready to contradict their parents, monopolize the conversation and company, eat gluttonously and tyrannize their teachers.…”

—Socrates about 400 B.C.

I.     DEFINITIONS

The stage of adolescence sometimes called the Troubled Teens is as normal as the Terrible Two’s of early childhood. While the teenage years are ages thirteen to nineteen, the years of adolescence vary depending on differing cultures, legal status and personal maturity. These turbulent times are highly charged with emotional, social and physical changes that can shatter the hopes and dreams of parents for their children—even godly parents who have provided love and encouragement. Take heart … your teenager may be just the tool God is using to motivate you to place all your trust in Him!3

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.”

(Psalm 28:7)

A. What Is Adolescence?

Moving from childhood to adulthood is anything but easy! This journey involves passing through the unpredictable stage known as adolescence. If your child is in this transition, you face the challenge of uprooting weeds of immaturity while sowing seeds of autonomy.5

•     Adolescence is the transitional period of growth between childhood and adulthood characterized by dramatic emotional, social and physical changes.

•     The Latin word for adolescence is adolescere, which means “to grow up.”

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1–2)

Emotional Changes

Adolescents often feel insignificant and question their personal identity.

•     Who am I?

•     What are my own values and beliefs?

•     What freedom should I have?

•     Whom do I really respect?

•     What can I do well?

Social Changes

Adolescents often feel insecure and look to their peers to get approval.

•     They transfer allegiance from parents to peers.

•     They desire increased independence.

•     They develop interest in the opposite sex.

•     They rearrange friends and peer groups.

•     They fluctuate in moods and behaviors.

B. What Is Puberty?

•     Puberty is the age at which a person is first capable of sexual reproduction, characterized by dramatic physical changes.

•     The onset of puberty occurs in girls between the ages of ten and seventeen (usually around twelve) and in boys between the ages of twelve and nineteen (usually around fourteen).

Physical Changes

Adolescents often feel embarrassed because of their rapidly changing bodies.

Males    Females 
•     Grow up to five inches a year  Height  •     Grow up to three inches a year 
•     Experience great weight gain  Weight  •     Experience some weight gain 
•     Speak fuller and lower  Voice  •     Speak fuller and wider 
•     Grow underarm, facial, pubic, and chest   hair  Body Hair  •     Grow underarm, pubic and lower leg hair 
•     Develop a broader chest  Shape  •     Develop breasts and wider hips 
•     Double in strength between twelve and   sixteen  Strength  •     Increase in strength most at onset of   menstruation 
•     Begin to produce sperm  Sexuality  •     Begin to ovulate 

C. What Type of Teenage Examples are Found in the Bible?

Teenagers experience concentrated periods of growth in their emotional, physical and spiritual development. Unfortunately, some adults who have developed physically remain emotional and spiritual adolescents. These individuals will continue to carry the immaturity of their youth into adulthood unless they experience the life transforming power of God.

2 Samuel chapter 13

Negative Example: Absalom

Absalom seethed with anger because his half brother had raped his sister. For two years, Absalom allowed hatred to fester in his heart, putting him on the road of retaliation and rebellion. Because their father, King David, took no action, Absalom did … he had his brother murdered.

This road of rebellion led to open revolution against his father’s authority and ultimately to Absalom’s own death.

2 Chronicles chapter 34

Positive Example: Josiah

Josiah was only eight years old when he became the sixteenth ruler of the southern kingdom following his father’s assassination. Unlike his ungodly father and grandfather, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 34:2). At the age of sixteen, he made the Lord top priority in his life and began to earnestly seek God. As a result of placing himself under the Lord’s authority, Josiah took a strong stand against the accepted sin of his culture and began putting an end to two generations of idolatry and wickedness.

Although fatally wounded in battle at the young age of thirty-nine, Josiah has long been considered the greatest king since David (2 Kings 23:25). He was not just a remarkable reformer, but an exemplary youth who was willing to cut against the grain of culture to restore godliness and integrity to Israel.

Q   “My teenage son is rebellious and is getting into trouble. Since he won’t listen to me, should I give up trying to tell him what is right?”

No. Even if your son continues to make choices that are wrong, you are still responsible for communicating what is right. You are not accountable for your son’s wrong decisions, but you are accountable for your own right parenting. If you won’t try to teach your son what is right, who will?

“The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.” (Proverbs 13:14)

 

II.    CHARACTERISTICS

A.Telltale Schemes of Troubled Teens

Almost everyone experiences difficulty with the pressures of growing up. Change is normal, but if you observe radical change in your teen’s behavior, be discerning. Be aware of detrimental friends, sexual promiscuity, eating disorders, alcohol or drugs. The telltale sign of teens in trouble is a pronounced change in attitude—puffed up pride toward parents, hardened hearts toward authority, a growing indifference toward God.

“Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.”

(Proverbs 1:29–31)

•     Emotional withdrawal

—  avoiding family activities

—  being secretive and unresponsive

—  withdrawing to the bedroom to avoid family interactions

—  arguing or being verbally abusive

—  complaining about family provisions (clothes, car, money)

•     School difficulties

—  receiving noticeably lower grades

—  disrupting class and challenging authority

—  repeatedly skipping class

—  lying about homework

—  being apathetic toward school events

•     Detrimental friendships

—  secrecy surrounding phone calls

—  exclusive involvement with older friends

—  excessively defensive of friends

—  ceases to bring friends home

—  criticizes responsible teenagers

•     Boundaries tested

—  demanding total freedom

—  being evasive about activities

—  ignoring curfews

—  sneaking out at night

—  refusing church attendance

•     Physical signals

—  sleeping or eating excessively … a possible sign of depression

—  losing a great deal of weight … a possible sign of anorexia

—  eating abnormal amounts without weight gain … a possible sign of bulimia

—  colorless skin and frequent illnesses (colds, vomiting, dizziness) … a possible sign of drugs

—  slash marks or burns on the skin … a sign of deep internal pain

•     Appearance changes

—  avoiding personal hygiene

—  being excessively sloppy

—  losing interest in appearance

—  wearing bizarre hairstyles

—  dressing to identify with gangs or cults

“A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the one who bore him.”

(Proverbs 17:25)

B. Picture of Passive Parenting

Often parents ignore their teenager’s negative behavior hoping that things will get better by themselves. Other parents fear confrontation and emotionally withdraw, leaving their teenagers stranded without love, encouragement and positive direction. Ultimately, God holds parents responsible to guide and direct, to comfort and correct—even if their children object. Prayerfully consider the following questions. Then allow the Holy Spirit to probe your heart for an honest appraisal of where you stand in God’s courtroom of parental accountability.

“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?”

(Proverbs 24:11–12)

The Probe for Passive Parenting

Parenting Skills Questionnaire

Do you avoid confronting the negative behavior of your teenager?

Do you fail to discuss uncomfortable situations with your teen?

Do you give in easily and readily accept excuses from your teenager?

Do you cover up or make excuses for your teenager’s behavior?

Do you continually give your teenager another chance without establishing consequences?

Do you shield your teenager from outside repercussions caused by negative behavior?

Do you fail to be consistent with rules, curfews and limits for your teenager?

Do you withhold love in the hopes of changing your teenager?

Do you use comparisons and sarcasm to intimidate your teenager?

Do you withhold discipline in fear of losing the love of your teenager?

Q   “As a parent, I feel unloving when I discipline my teenager—even if he is guilty.”

The God-given role of a parent is to establish boundaries with rewards and repercussions—rewards for staying within the boundary and repercussions for crossing over the boundary. To “convict” a teenager for their wrong attitudes and actions is not unloving. Enforcing boundaries blesses them by enabling them to experience the consequences of knowing right from wrong.

“It will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come upon them.” (Proverbs 24:25)

 

III.   CAUSES OF TROUBLE FOR TEENS

Teenagers are like butterflies … almost. They are breaking out of the parental cocoon that has met their needs since birth. As potential butterflies, they begin flexing their muscles—no longer depending on parents to meet their legitimate needs for love, for significance and for security. However, since they are still unable to fly on their own, this period of transition places youth at risk.20

A. Misplaced Dependence of Teens

Parents face the significant task of helping children transfer their dependence from family to God. If this shift is not solidified in the early teenage years, adolescents often look to alcohol and drugs, friends and fashion, sports and sex, cars and clothes, gangs and good grades, and even ritualistic religion to meet their needs. Rather than depending on God, they misplace their dependence. They get all tripped up looking for all the right things in the wrong places.

The Search for Love

•     Teenagers with a misplaced dependence say:

—“I can’t live without my friends.”

—  “I have to be accepted by the opposite sex.”

—  “I have to be told I’m loved.”

—  “I must have sex to feel loved.”

The Search for Significance

•     Teenagers with a misplaced dependence say:

—“I have to date someone good looking.”

—  “I have to excel in sports.”

—  “I have to have my own car.”

—  “I have to make straight A’s.”

The Search for Security

•     Teenagers with a misplaced dependence say:

—“I have to be really popular.”

—  “I have to fit into the group.”

—  “I have to belong to the right social club.”

—  “I have to have my own (things).”

The Search for Love

•     Teenagers with their dependence on God say:

—“I need a personal relationship with Jesus as my Lord, my Savior and my friend.”

—  “I need to realize that I’m accepted by God and that I have His approval.”

—  “I need to know I’m loved by God just as I am, no matter what.”

—  “I need Christian friends who express God’s love to me in wholesome tangible ways.”

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

(John 15:12)

The Search for Significance

•     Teenagers with their dependence on God say:

—“I need to know I have God-given worth.”

—  “I need to realize that I was designed by God and that He has a purpose for my life.”

—  “I need to understand that God will give me increased responsibilities as I am faithful in small things.”

—  “I need to rely on God to work through me to accomplish all His plans for me.”

“I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.”

(Psalm 57:2)

The Search for Security

•     Teenagers with their dependence on God say:

—“I need to realize I’m a child of God and I belong to the family of God.”

—  “I need to be disciplined and not yield to the pull of the world, the flesh and Satan.”

—  “I need to view God’s truths as benevolent boundaries.”

—  “I need to know the Lord will never leave me nor forsake me.”

“He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.”

(Proverbs 14:26)

B. Root Cause of Inner Conflict in Teens

Young children are told what to think and what to do … directed by attitudes and actions of their parents. In adolescence, parental authority is often challenged. Teenagers become intensely influenced by the attitudes and actions of their peers. They reject the idea that their parents have a “corner” on truth and begin seeking their own truth. Acceptance and approval from others reign supreme!

Wrong Belief:

“Being accepted by others is more important than doing what is right. I want to live my own way by my own truth.”

Right Belief:

“I would like to be accepted by others, but I want to be a person of character who says no when asked to do something wrong. Because Christ lives in me, my life will be fulfilled as I live His way by His truth.”

“I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)

Teenager’s   Prayer 
Lord,   may I see sin as You see sin. May I hate sin as You hate sin. Whatever it   takes for me to be right in Your sight, that’s what I’m willing to do. 

 

IV.  STEPS TO SOLUTION

Life with a teenager is a ride on a roller-coaster! At times teenagers act as though the family is of little or no importance. At other times they demand strong family support. Caught in the middle of these two extremes, confused parents need to learn how to keep their equilibrium in the midst of ups and downs. You need to know that the Lord promises to be your stabilizer, your rock, your leveler.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”

(Psalm 143:10)

A. Key Verses to Memorize

•     For the teenager

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

(2 Timothy 2:22)

•     For the parent

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

(Deuteronomy 6:6–7)

B. Key Passages to Read and Reread

Book of Proverbs

For Teenagers

Much of the Book of Proverbs is targeted to young people, specifically “for attaining wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:2) and “giving … knowledge and discretion to the young” (Proverbs 1:4). Since it contains thirty-one chapters, Proverbs easily lends itself to reading one chapter a day each month. Many young people continue reading this character building book far into adulthood. Consider challenging your teenagers with this project: create a list of “Proverbial Tips for Teens” by paraphrasing each timeless truth in your own words.

Proverbial Tips for Teens

“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.”

(Proverbs 12:15)

Ten Examples from Proverbs, Chapter One:

    #1 To respect the Lord is the first   step toward learning about life.  v. 7 
    #2 To refuse discipline and wisdom is   to be an ignorant fool.  v. 7 
    #3 To listen to my parents’ advice is   to receive lifelong benefits.  vv. 8–9 
    #4 To be strong enough to say no   today is to avoid trouble tomorrow.  vv. 10–19 
    #5 To make fun of others is to prove   myself an idiot.  v. 22 
    #6 To learn from past mistakes is to   hear the heart of God.  v. 23 
    #7 To disobey the Lord is to invite   disaster.  vv. 24–27 
    #8 To sow the seeds of rebellion is   to bring my own destruction.  vv. 29–31 
    #9 To be complacent and   self-satisfied is to be really stupid.  v. 32 
  #10 To listen to the Lord is to be   safe and secure.  v. 33 

Ephesians 3:16–19

For Parents

Ephesians 3:16–19 can easily be turned into a beautiful prayer for your teenager. Pray this prayer on a regular basis, and say your teen’s name in the place of you and your in verses 16, 17 and 19.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen [name] with power through his Spirit in [name’s] inner being, so that Christ may dwell in [name’s] heart through faith. And I pray that [name], being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that [name] may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

(Ephesians 3:16–19)

C. Targets for Parents of Teens

If you have bow and arrow in hand, keep in mind this thought: If you then aim at nothing, you’re bound to hit it! To be the best parent possible, you need well-defined targets to keep you focused in the right direction. Even the most godly parent cannot guarantee the outcome of a child’s life. You can’t force your will on someone else, nor can you control behavior. You can, however, aim for positive targets by the way you talk and the way you “walk your talk.”22

“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say.”

(Titus 2:7–8)

Target #1 … Personal Identity

•     Have your own identity strongly rooted in Christ.

—  I will look to Christ to meet my deepest needs for love, for significance and for security.

—  I choose to rely on Christ’s strength instead of my own strength.

—  I have died to my self-willed living so that Christ is free to live His life through me.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

•     See your teen as a significant and unique creation of God.

—  God chose to create my child for a purpose.

—  God has given my child intrinsic value.

—  God has a unique plan for my child’s life.

“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11)

•     Discern your teens’ natural inclinations, interests and abilities.

—  Encourage your teen to take part in activities that develop personal skills.

—  Identify the activities that bring joy to your teen.

—  Discover what skills your teen naturally possesses.

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

•     Express more praise than disapproval.

—  Always speak with respect to your teen.

—  Compliment your teen’s choices that exhibit good character.

—  Condemn a behavior, but never condemn your teen.

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21)

•     Explain that God’s specific plan is to develop the character of Christ in all His children.

—  When you received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, He came into your heart.

—  Because Christ lives inside you, you have His supernatural strength.

—  With Christ living in you, He will conform you to His character.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” (Romans 8:29)

Target #2 … Individual Responsibility

•     Be a person of integrity and accountability.

—  Don’t tell your teen to say you aren’t home when you are … that’s lying!

—  Don’t break the speed limit … that’s breaking the law!

—  Don’t bring items home from work that you haven’t paid for … that’s stealing!

“The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9)

•     Allow your teen to take part in establishing appropriate boundaries and consequences. (If they break the rules, don’t rescue them.)

—  Set appropriate curfews. Explain to your teen, “You are the one who chooses whether you receive the repercussion or the reward.”

—  Communicate the repercussion for breaking curfews. (For instance, being 10 minutes late results in the next curfew’s being 20 minutes earlier.)

—  The reward for complying with curfews over a period of time is earned trust and increased freedom.

“Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” (Proverbs 29:17)

•     Teach your teens the importance of fulfilling commitments.

—  Keep your word to your marriage partner and to your teenager.

—  Fulfill your commitment to your church.

—  Be loyal to your employer. (Don’t call in sick when you’re not … that’s cheating!)

“When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said. When a young woman still living in her father’s house makes a vow to the Lord or obligates herself by a pledge and her father hears about her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand.” (Numbers 30:2–4)

•     Guide your teens toward developing financial responsibility.

—  Open a small bank account in their name.

—  Set up a budget.

—  Do not bail them out if they habitually run out of money.

“An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end.” (Proverbs 20:21)

•     Help your teens make practical and moral choices that lead toward a particular career path.

—  Encourage your teen to read biographies of Christian leaders.

—  Encourage your teen in the area of personal giftedness and talents.

—  Consider aptitude testing for older teens.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3)

Target #3 … Healthy Intimacy

•     Communicate your positive and negative feelings honestly.

—  Openly express affection to your spouse and children (hugs and embraces).

—  Tell family members often, “I love you,” “I’m proud of you,” “I really like who you are.”

—  Use “I feel” statements when you have negative emotions. (“I feel hurt when you don’t keep your word to me.”)

“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalm 51:6)

•     Ask questions on the feeling level rather than just on the fact level.

—  Instead of, “How was school today?” ask, “How are you feeling about yourself at school?”

—  “How does it make you feel when I ?”

—  “How are you feeling about God?”

“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” (Proverbs 20:5)

•     Encourage supportive relationships with others who are role models, those who are committed to Christian values (pastor, youth director, camp counselor, Christian leaders).

—  Invite a Christian youth leader to your home for dinner.

—  Ask youth leaders to involve your teen in specific youth activities.

—  Learn from other teens who their adult role models are, then encourage some of those to get involved in the life of your teen.

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)

•     Readily admit when you’ve wronged someone, ask forgiveness and make restitution.

—  “Son, I realize I’ve been wrong in my attitude toward you (angry, critical).”

—  “Would you please forgive me?”

—  “How else have I wronged you?”

“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

•     Share insights about how to treat members of the opposite sex and the different needs of males and females. God created everyone with three inner needthe need for love, for significance and for security.

—  Both males and females need unconditional love. Since love (agape) seeks the highest good of the other person, both need to interact with members of the opposite sex in ways that are uplifting, not degrading; moral, not immoral.

—  Generally males have a greater need to feel significant, rather than secure. Girls should compliment inner character more than outer accomplishments. (Don’t focus on athletic prowess but rather on the inner perseverance.)

—  Females have a greater need to feel secure. Boys need to recognize their role as a protector of girls, protecting their hearts, their virginity and their reputation.

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” (Proverbs 18:15)

Target #4 … Spiritual Maturity

•     Model the character of Christ, for this is your most powerful influence.“Lord Jesus, may I …

—  love with Your love

—  forgive with Your forgiveness

—  hear with Your heart.”

“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:7–8)

•     Teach God’s Word as the absolute authority and standard.

—  If God said it, believe it.

—  If God said it, apply it.

—  If God said it, share it.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

•     Advise your teen to think about these questions before doing something questionable:

—  “If I do this, will it show love for God?”

—  “If I do this, will it show love for others?”

—  “If I do this, will it show love for myself?”

“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2)

•     Pray for God to bring repercussions when your teen chooses a destructive path. Accept God’s heart as revealed in His Word:

“When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11)

“The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:6)

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)

•     Explain the value in standing alone and separating from the compromises of the world. Explain that:

—  You plus God make the majority.

—  You can’t do a wrong act the right way.

—  You will never stand alone when you take a stand with God.

“Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17–18)

D. The Battle for Boundaries

Those involved in the world of athletics are well acquainted with boundaries. Every sport has boundaries not to be exceeded, and when these perimeters are crossed, penalties are assessed. Likewise, parents need to begin early in their child’s life to establish well-defined boundaries with rewards and repercussions (consequences or forms of discipline).

External boundaries help develop self-control. The ultimate goal of establishing boundaries is for your child to become internally motivated to do what is right. When boundaries are clearly communicated, teens who “cross the line” learn that parents do not cause their consequences … they have chosen their own repercussions.

Some parents don’t see the importance of boundaries until they come face-to-face with a rebellious teenager. Initiating proper boundaries at this stage is hard, but not impossible. It requires uncompromising commitment and humble reliance on the Lord. Pray for the day your teen will see discipline as God’s loving hand for developing Christlike character.

“Do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”

(Proverbs 3:11–12)

Common Battlefields Over Boundaries

Pridefulness

Conflict:

“My prideful teenager has informed me that when he turns eighteen, he will legally be an adult, and therefore, he will no longer have to abide by my house rules. He feels that I should no longer have any say in what he does.”

Solution:

As long as your son is living in your home, he is obligated to abide by your “house rules.” Whether eighteen or twenty-eight, if your adult child is still a dependent—receiving food, clothing, shelter or any other financial assistance—he has not earned the right to make independent decisions contrary to your decisions. Your standards are to stand as a safeguard for your son.

“Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” (Proverbs 19:18)

Privacy

Conflict:

“Is it all right to search my teenager’s room if I suspect she is involved in pornography, drugs or anything else inappropriate?”

Solution:

Absolutely! If your teenager accuses you of “invasion of privacy,” explain that as long as she is a minor, you are held morally and legally responsible for her actions.

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” (Proverbs 18:15)

Pornography

Conflict:

“Recently we discovered that our teenage son has been bringing home pornographic pictures printed from a friend’s home computer. We’ve also learned that he’s been lying about his involvement in sex chat rooms on the Internet. Since his friends attend our church, what is the best way to handle this problem?”

Solution:

Since you will not be able to isolate your son from computers, the best approach is to appeal to his conscience.

•     Explain that out of love for him, you cannot just sit back and allow behavior that brings God’s disfavor on his life.

•     Ask, “Do you have a clear conscience?” If he did, he would have no reason to deceive you about what he is doing.

•     Ask, “Do you want me to do what God wants me to do?” (He’ll say yes.) Tell him that God is holding you responsible for teaching him the danger of sexual immorality.

•     State that the home where he encountered the pornography is now off limits, but that you want to be able to trust him. And, in the future, you look forward to having that trust restored.

•     Ask the other parents involved to meet with you to discuss briefly what happened and ways of protecting all your teenagers from the pornography that is so accessible on the Internet.

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)

Premarital Sex

Conflict:

“How do I respond if my teenager asks, ‘What’s the problem with sex outside of marriage?’ ”

Solution:

Simply explain practical, social and spiritual problems.

Practical:

•     When males and females have sex, a baby is often conceived. Even if they use products designed to prevent pregnancy, these products often fail. Ask, “Are you ready to give up almost everything you are doing in order to support your child? Or if you choose abortion, could you live the rest of your life knowing you had killed your unborn baby? Do you really want that on your conscience?”

Social:

•     Children born out of wedlock are at a disadvantage socially, often feeling cheated. It’s much harder for these children to be well parented, well taken care of and well educated. On the other hand, children born in homes with two parents typically feel much more secure.

Spiritual:

•     Sex between animals is hormone driven and based solely on instinct. However, God designed sex between humans to be a “Holy Union” for husband and wife. Since holy means “set apart,” the sexual act is to be set apart for the covenant of marriage—a commitment that protects the relationship between husband and wife. If you have sex outside of marriage, you violate God’s design, which puts you in opposition to God.

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.… For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3–4, 7)

Common Questions about Boundaries

Q  “Is it right to have boundaries?”

Yes. The Lord created the world with natural boundaries and gave people behavioral and spiritual boundaries. Some of the more obvious boundaries are the Ten Commandments. (Read Exodus 20:1–17.)

Q  “Aren’t teenagers too old for parental discipline?”

No. Accountability is necessary for everyone of any age.

Q  “When my teen crosses a boundary, how can I enforce the repercussions without feeling harsh and wrong?”

In choosing to cross a boundary, your teen is choosing a repercussion. You are merely enforcing what your teen has chosen! Remember God’s purposes for proper discipline. Boundaries are not just external limits with negative consequences. The goal of good boundaries is to develop internal boundaries or self-control that leads to godly character.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)

Q  “Is there such a thing as a bad boundary?”

Yes. Some boundaries can be too restrictive or too lenient for the age and maturity level of a teen. Only through prayer will a parent be able to discern God’s will for each specific situation. (Just make sure the boundaries are just.) An unjust boundary can wound the heart of your teen.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

Talk to Your Teen with Tact

Church

Teen Argument #1:

“I don’t want to go to church anymore—I’m old enough to make my own choices.”

Tactful Answer:

The Seven Step Approach

Don’t be dictatorial, self-righteous or legalistic about your teenager’s attending every church function, but prioritize which activities are the most important. Consider this guide to reach your teenager’s heart.

#1 Freedom

“More and more, I’ll be giving you greater freedom to make your own choices, and one day you’ll be out on your own making all your own decisions.”

#2 Direction

“While you are still under my care, God has given me the responsibility of protecting and directing you. He will hold me accountable for how I raise you.”

#3 Priorities

“My highest priority is to please God, especially when it concerns you.”

#4 Question

“Do you want me to do what is pleasing to God?” (Wait for a response—you can assume it will be yes.)

#5 Love

“I deeply love you and would like to please you, too. However, I know there will be times I can’t do both.”

#6 Truth

“In this case it would be wrong in the sight of God for me to say you don’t need to go to church. There are truths taught at church that are important building blocks for your future.”

#7 Application

“Let’s both go to church, learn as much as we can and pray that we will come away with at least one truth we can apply to our lives each week.”

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.”

(Hebrews 10:25)

Objectionable Music

Teen Argument #2:

“There’s nothing wrong with the music I enjoy listening to.”

Tactful Answer:

The Seven Step Approach

Don’t react out of ignorance. Read the music cover, utilize the Internet or listen to the music, and then write out the objectionable lyrics before you talk with your teenager.

#1 Love

“Although we won’t always love the same things, I will always love you.”

#2 Question

“What do you think today’s music that’s targeted to youth is saying?” (Wait for a response.)

#3 Concern

“I’m sincerely concerned about some of the messages being communicated through today’s popular music.”

#4 Computer Comparison

“God has designed your mind to function like a giant computer. Remember the saying, ‘Garbage in—garbage out’?”

#5 Objection

“Do you really want to program your mind with the words of this song?” (Give objectionable lyrics.)

#6 Role Reversal

“One day you’ll probably be a parent. Would you want the mind of your own son or daughter programmed with this message?”

#7 Encouragement

“Ultimately, it’s your decision whether your mind will be protected or polluted. Because I love you, I want to encourage you to make a commitment to keep your mind pure, regardless of peer pressure. In the long run it will pay off! What you listen to will shape your attitude, and your attitude will shape your actions. Therefore, this music is not to be played in our house. If it is, your CDs will be confiscated. I have confidence you will respect this decision because we both know it’s right in God’s sight.”

“Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path.”

(Proverbs 23:19)

Speak the Truth to Your Teen in Love

Establishing a boundary is an act of love that protects everyone involved. Enforcing a boundary is an act of love that promotes personal responsibility. Instead of overprotecting your teenagers, you need to confront their irresponsibility. Boundaries with clearly stated rewards and repercussions need to be communicated with love and without apology.

“Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”

(Ephesians 4:15)

Argumentative Teen

“I want to discuss your request, but since you continue to argue with me and even badger me, you’ll have to leave the room. We won’t discuss it further until you can talk rationally and respectfully. I look forward to when we can talk together with respect and without arguing. The timing is up to you.”

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” (2 Timothy 2:23)

Spendthrift Teen

“I want you to realize the value of money. Rather than giving you money to pay for everything, I think you are ready to take responsibility for finding ways to pay for many of the things you want. Ultimately, I think you’ll enjoy being more responsible financially.”

“If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

Chronically Late Teen

“We need to be on time for the dinner party, and I know you want to go. If you’re ready when the car pulls out at six o’clock, we won’t have to go without you. The choice is ultimately yours.”

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:20)

Angry Teen

“I know you are angry, and I respect your feelings, but if you choose to yell and berate me, I will choose not to be in your presence. How you express your anger is your choice, and what I will allow in my presence is my choice. I hope we can both talk calmly soon.”

“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” (Proverbs 29:11)

Pouting Teen

“I’m always willing to talk about whatever bothers you, but it’s not best for me to try to force you to talk. When you talk is clearly your choice. And when you want to talk with me, I hope you’ll come to me.”

“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.” (Proverbs 13:1)

Demanding Teen

“I care about your needs and desires, but I need some time to think about what you are asking. We can talk about it tomorrow.”

“Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 29:20)

Untrustworthy Teen

“I know you want me to trust you with the car again, and that’s my desire as well. I’m sure we can get there. For us to work toward that goal, I need at least a month of your proving that you are trustworthy by going only where you say you are going. That way, I can see that you are serious about wanting my trust and being responsible with the car.”

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)

E. Thank-You’s from Teens

Don’t expect a bouquet of thank-you’s from your sprouting adolescents for the sacrifice and worry you experience on their behalf. Blossoms of gratitude don’t usually appear until your teenagers are away from home and facing the pressures of life in a less-than-kind world. Sometimes it takes the advent of a second generation before the light dawns and heartfelt appreciation comes your way.

Parents, live in such a way that one day you may hear—

•     “Thank you for giving me a Christian heritage.”

•     “Thank you for giving me honest answers to tough questions.”

•     “Thank you for respecting my need for independence and for giving me some space.”

•     “Thank you for giving me the freedom to fail.”

•     “Thank you for not rehearsing my wrongs.”

•     “Thank you for forgiving my hurtful remarks.”

•     “Thank you for being my parent and not my buddy.”

•     “Thank you for being friendly to my friends.”

•     “Thank you for providing more love than money.”

•     “Thank you for teaching me honesty and integrity.”

•     “Thank you for displaying before me freedom from prejudice.”

•     “Thank you for confronting inappropriate attitudes and actions.”

•     “Thank you for saying no when it would have been easier to say yes.”

•     “Thank you for being a godly parent whom I really respect.”

•     “Thank you for setting a Christlike example for me to follow.”

F.  Encouragement

Motivational Pointers for Parents

Parents who take the time to build a loving relationship with their teenagers will find that encouragement opens the door to their tender hearts.

“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”

(Colossians 3:21)

Examine your motive for wanting your teenager to change.

•     Is it for the young person’s personal growth or because your teen’s behavior affects you negatively?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23–24)

Nurture the needs of your teenager.

•     Be aware of your teenager’s inner need for significance.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Create an environment where it is okay to fail.

•     Acceptance must not be based on achievement.

•     Communicate that failure can be viewed positively as a stepping-stone to success.

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7)

Orchestrate small steps to achievable goals.

•     Your teen’s heart is encouraged when results are seen quickly.

“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction.” (Proverbs 16:23)

Use the sandwich method to confront failure.

•     Bread of praise: “You are really doing well.”

•     Meat of correction: “Let’s work on improving so you can do better.”

•     Bread of encouragement: “I’m so proud of you. I know you will succeed.”

“A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23)

 

Recognize and compliment the positive efforts and attitudes.

•     Don’t wait for final results, but give your teen praise and rewards along the way.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)

Admit your own feelings.

•     Be open and vulnerable with your teen.

•     Don’t be afraid to cry in your teen’s presence when you are hurt.

“[There is] a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

Go to the Lord in prayer.

•     Pray for God to work actively in your teen’s life.

•     Pray blessings over your teen.

“Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” (Psalm 116:2)

Ensure your own spiritual stability.

•     Don’t neglect your own spiritual nourishment.

•     Spend time daily communicating with God and reading His Word.

“I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” (Psalm 119:10)

Make time for study in Scripture, for meditation, and for seeking the Lord’s wisdom.

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

(1 Corinthians 11:1)

 

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Campbell, Ross. How to Really Love Your Teenager. Rev. ed. Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1993.

Crabb, Lawrence J. Jr. Understanding People: Deep Longings for Relationships. Ministry Resources Library. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987.

Dobson, James C. Prepare for Adolescence. Pomona, CA: Focus on the Family, 1989.

Huggins, Kevin. Parenting Adolescents. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1989.

Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008

Hutchcraft, Ronald. Ten Time Bombs: Defusing the Most Explosive Pressures Teenagers Face. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997.

Kesler, Jay, ed., and Ronald A. Beers, ed. Parents & Teenagers. Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1984.

McDowell, Josh, and Bob Hostetler. Josh McDowell’s Handbook on Counseling Youth: A Comprehensive Guide for Equipping Youth Workers, Pastors, Teachers, and Parents. Dallas: Word, 1996.

McDowell, Josh, and Bill Jones. The Teenage Q & A Book. Dallas: Word, 1990.

McGee, Robert S. The Search for Significance. 2nd ed. Houston: Rapha, 1990.

Meier, Paul D., Frank B. Minirth, and Frank B. Wichern. Introduction to Psychology and Counseling: Christian Perspectives and Applications. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982.

Minirth, Frank. “A Brief Digest on Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Signs of Trouble in Your Teen.” Richardson, TX: The Minirth Clinic, 1998.

Morris, Marilyn. Teens Sex and Choices. Dallas: Charles River, 2000.

Myers, David G. Psychology. 2nd ed. New York: Worth, 1989.

Narramore, Bruce, and Vern C. Lewis. Parenting Teens. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1990.

Olson, G. Keith. Counseling Teenagers: The Complete Christian Guide to Understanding and Helping Adolescents. Loveland, CO: Group, 1984.

Santrock, John W. Adolescence, An Introduction. 3rd ed. Dubuque, IO: Wm. C. Brown, 1991.

Scott, Buddy. Relief for Hurting Parents. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1989.

Swets, Paul W. How to Talk So Your Teenager Will Listen. Dallas: Word, 1988.

Swindoll, Charles R. Growing Wise in Family Life. Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1988.

“Warning Signs Alert Parents to Problems.” Dallas Morning News, 13 May 1990, 5N & 8N.

Warren, Paul, and Bruce Grant. Kids in Crisis. Minirth-Meier Clinic, n.d. audiocassette.

White, Jerry, and Mary White. When Your Kids Aren’t Kids Anymore: Parenting Late-Teen and Adult Children. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1989.

White, Joe. Pure Excitement. Colorado Springs, CO: Focus on the Family, 1996.

White, John. Parents in Pain: Overcoming the Hurt & Frustration of Problem Children. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1979.

Wilson, Earl D. Teenagers: Parenting to Meet Basic Needs. Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1984.[1]

 

Training Children

See also Youth, Young People.

1.   God requires parents to train their children in a God-centered way.

Deut. 6:6–7. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

2.   The father is primarily responsible for child training.

Eph. 6:4. And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

3.   The chief goal must be to train children in the fear of the Lord.

Eph. 6:4.

4.   Do not exasperate them, be unfair to them, or abuse them.

Col. 3:21. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

5.   The father must manage his family well and see that his children obey and respect him.

1 Tim. 3:4. One who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence

6.   Love requires faithful discipline.

Prov. 13:24. He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

Prov. 22:15. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

Prov. 23:13–14. Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell.

Prov. 29:15. The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Prov. 29:17. Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.

7.   Follow God’s pattern, for he lovingly disciplines us, for our good.

Heb. 12:5–11.

8.   The Lord condemned Eli for being an indulgent parent.

1 Sam. 3:1–18.

1 Sam. 3:13. “For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.”

9.   Train a child in the way he should go.

Prov. 22:6. Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

10. Unless the Lord builds the house …

Ps. 127:1–2. Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.

11. Children are a heritage from the Lord.

Ps. 127:3. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.[2]

 

Youth, Young People

See also Forgiveness of Sins; Warnings.

1.   Be happy, young man.

Eccles. 11:9–10. Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, And put away evil from your flesh, For childhood and youth are vanity.

2.   Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.

Eccles. 12:1. Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”:

3.   Be sure to go God’s way.

Prov. 3:1–4. My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.

4.   Trust in the Lord; acknowledge him in all your ways.

Prov. 3:5–6. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

5.   The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom.

Prov. 1:7. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Prov. 9:10–11. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you.”

Prov. 15:33. The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.

6.   Fools despise instruction.

Prov. 1:7. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

7.   Listen to parental instruction for your own good.

Prov. 1:8–9. My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother; For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, And chains about your neck.

Prov. 4:1–4. Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding; For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law. When I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live.”

Prov. 6:20–24. My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; When you sleep, they will keep you; And when you awake, they will speak with you. For the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life, To keep you from the evil woman, From the flattering tongue of a seductress.

8.   Don’t despise the Lord’s discipline, for he disciplines those he loves (and parents must follow his example).

Prov. 3:11–12. My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.

Heb. 12:5–11.

9.   He who hates correction is stupid.

Prov. 12:1. Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.

10. Don’t ignore discipline; be thankful for it.

Prov. 15:32. He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, But he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.

11. Love requires discipline.

Prov. 13:24. He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

12. If others entice you, don’t consent or yield.

Prov. 1:10–19.

Prov. 1:10. My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.

Prov. 1:15. My son, do not walk in the way with them, Keep your foot from their path;

13. Avoid the path of the wicked; turn far from it.

Prov. 4:14–15. Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; Turn away from it and pass on.

14. Stand firm; don’t be willy-nilly; don’t be moved.

1 Cor. 15:58. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

15. Be a valiant soldier of Jesus Christ; use God’s armor.

Eph. 6:10–18.

Eph. 6:10–11. Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

16. Joseph, the young man, stands as a good example for us.

Gen. 39. (Even when Joseph was far from home, a slave in Egypt, he was strong in faith and godliness. He was willing to suffer for the Lord, rather than to sin against him. When Potiphar’s wife tempted him, he would not yield to her demands.)

Gen. 39:9–10. “There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.

17. Daniel also is a good example to follow. As a young man he was carried off to Babylon. There he remained faithful to God at all cost.

Dan. 1:8–9. But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs.

Dan. 6. (Even when he knew that he would be thrown into the den of lions, Daniel kept on praying to his God, against the king’s decree.)

Dan. 6:10. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.

18. The three friends of Daniel also remained faithful to God at all cost.

Dan. 3.

Dan. 3:16–18. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

19. Honor your father and mother.

Exod. 20:12. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

20. Honor and obey your parents.

Eph. 6:1–3. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” [Deut. 5:16].

Col. 3:20. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

21. Jesus was obedient to his parents.

Luke 2:51. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.

22. Flee the evil desires of youth.

2 Tim. 2:22. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.[3]

 


[1] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Teenagers: Helping Teens through Turbulent Times (1–28). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

[2] Kruis, J. G. (1994). Quick scripture reference for counseling (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[3] Kruis, J. G. (1994). Quick scripture reference for counseling (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.


Impacting Children And Teenagers At Home

spiritual instruction in the home always has been God’s ideal.

“These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 6:6–7).

He commanded our fathers,

That they should make them known to their children;

That the generation to come might know them,

The children who would be born,

That they may arise and declare to their children,

That they may set their hope in God,

And not forget the works of God,

But keep His commandments

(Ps. 78:4–7 NKJV).

“Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

“And fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

Parents who want to see their children become kingdom young adults:

♦    Have a deep appreciation for ministers and church leaders who impact their children.

♦    Work aggressively to deepen relationships between their children and those church leaders.

♦    Build family schedules around the ministries and services of the church.

♦    Become firm supporters of all the church is doing to impact their children spiritually.

But at the same time parents never abdicate to the church the final responsibility for the spiritual instruction of their children and teenagers.

Fact

“Parents are the primary Christian educators in the church, and the family is the God-ordained institution for building faith in young people and for passing faith on from one generation to the next.”

Children and Teenagers Are Teachable at Home

Despite their instinctive individualism, children and even teenagers are eminently teachable at home.

Josh McDowell said, “Young people say their number one source of spiritual truth is Mom and Dad—not the church, not the youth pastor or anyone else.”

Research Conclusion

“A major study revealed that while youth go to each other first for advice, they tend not to trust the advice they receive. The youth surveyed said overwhelmingly that they would prefer to go to their parents or other adults first, but they do not believe they have a relationship with them that allows them to talk openly about their problems.”

Too Few Parents Provide Spiritual Instruction

When it comes to many things (school, sports, other extracurricular activities), parents give direct instruction, but when it comes to things of the faith, parents sometimes abdicate to the church.

Research Conclusions

♦    “Only 10 percent of church families discusses its faith with any degree of regularity; in 43 percent of the homes … faith is never discussed.”

♦    “When asked how often they have devotions or worship as a family, 64 percent reported that their family rarely or never did so. Only 9 percent reported holding family devotions with any degree of regularity.”

On the other hand, here is the good news.

♦    “Religious practices in the home virtually double the probability of a congregation’s youth entering into the life and mission of Christ’s church.”

Of course, kingdom parents don’t need research to convince them that spiritual leadership in the home is vital.

♦    They honor God in their home because he is the sovereign Lord of the universe.

♦    They joyfully accept his authority because they revere him, love him, and have hearts of gratitude toward him.

♦    They embrace his principles of parenting and family life because he is God and because they know his precepts offer the only hope for a healthy family.

♦    They assume their rightful place as spiritual leaders in the lives of their children as an expression of obedience to God.

The Power of Prayer

Spiritual instruction and impact in the home lacks power without prayer.

Bruce Wilkinson has observed:

♦    “The sobering news about raising children is that we really have no ultimate control over whether our child will choose the narrow gate ‘that leads to life’ (Matthew 7:14 NIV) or the wide gate that leads to destruction. If other experiences in life have not humbled us and shown us how dependent we are on God, then parenting a preadolescent or teenager will.

♦    “But understanding our desperate need to depend on God is the good news. Once we give up the naïve idea that we parents can dictate the choices our children will make and the spiritual gate—narrow or broad—they will walk through, then we are ready to slip on the knee pads and get serious about prayer.”

Most of the prayers parents will pray over their children will be closet prayers. Some concerns only can be expressed in private. But the compliment to closet prayers are those prayers children get to hear.

♦    Children and teenagers must hear kingdom parents crying to God for them.

♦    They need to hear the depth of their parents’ love revealed in those prayers.

♦    They need to hear how keenly their parents want to see impact radiating out from their lives.

♦    They need to hear their parents release them to God’s call and purposes.

Hearing such prayers may be one of the most important experiences a child can have.

For many years I have used a daily plan for praying over my son Clayton. It brings variety to my prayers each morning, and it keeps me from forgetting issues to pray about. This prayer plan can be found at the end of this chapter. Regardless of the plan or approach, parents need to cry out to God for each of their children each morning.

Informal Spiritual Instruction at Home

“These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 6:6–7).

Kingdom parents provide spiritual instruction in the home both formally and informally. “When you sit in your house” sounds like formal instruction, something that is planned and prepared for. “When you walk by the way” sounds less formal and even spontaneous. Both are vital.

  1. Informal spiritual impact can take place without words.

♦    “When a congenial relationship exists between parents and their children, the youth tend to adopt their parents’ values even though they are never discussed directly.”

  1. Informal spiritual impact also takes place as kingdom parents model truth and values.

♦    “These values-in-action of the parents are the ones that children see and imitate. For this reason parents who intend to communicate traditional moral values to their children need to be conscious of how they, as parents, live, speak, and behave.”

♦    Parents who use the narcotic ethyl (beverage) alcohol negate instruction they intend to give on other drugs.

♦    Parents who fudge on income taxes negate instruction they intend to give on cheating in school.

♦    Parents who speed when driving negate instruction they intend to give on respect for the rule of law.

♦    Parents who ask children to tell phone callers they are not home negate instruction they intend to give on honesty.

  1. Informal spiritual impact also takes place as parents use gentle reasoning to communicate values.

♦    “Studies show that youth are more likely to internalize traditional values if an adult uses discussion to explain why certain moral laws are important, and that breaking them can violate one’s own inner needs as well as bring unhappiness to someone else.”

Formal Spiritual Instruction in the Home

“He said to them, ‘Take to heart all these words I am giving as a warning to you today, so that you may command your children to carefully follow all the words of this law’ ” (Deut. 32:46).

Informal spiritual instruction in the home is vital but can never take the place of intentional times the family gathers to talk of the things of God.

Studying the Bible as Families

Henry Blackaby notes, “Each parent must teach God’s Word to their children out of their own heart, with all diligence. We are not to teach them casually or carelessly or occasionally, but diligently. Our children must recognize that God’s Word is vital in our lives and, therefore, is to be vital in their own.”

God-Centered Worldview

Parents must use family Bible study time to assist their children in forming a God-centered worldview. “Another term for worldview is a philosophy of life. We define worldview as the underlying belief system held by an individual that determines his/her attitudes and actions about life.” Every person has such a belief system.

The following three statements could not be more central to parenting.

♦    “A person’s concept of reality and truth determines his beliefs!

♦    A person’s beliefs shape his values!

♦    A person’s values drive his actions!”

Because of the decay of American culture, the God-centered worldview children need to construct:

♦    Will be at odds with the views of many of their peers.

♦    May be at odds with the educational system they are part of.

♦    Will certainly be at odds with the entertainment industry that intrudes into their lives.

Parents can be grateful for any assistance the church is giving in teaching a God-centered worldview to their children. But at the same time, parents cannot abdicate to the church the final responsibility for ensuring this is done.

Parents need to ask themselves:

♦    To what degree does each of my children see the world and make decisions based on the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ?

♦    To what degree does each of my children see the world and make decisions based on his or her desire to see God’s kingdom come on earth?

♦    To what degree does each of my children see the world and make decisions based on a desire to embody God’s name, reflect his character, and obey his word?

♦    To what degree does each of my children see the world and make decisions from the perspective of eternity?

Absolute Truth

Parents must teach the Bible to their children in a way that affirms Scripture as absolute truth. Powerful voices consistently tell children and teenagers that:

♦    All truth is relative.

♦    Being sincere is more important than being right.

♦    Respecting others means accepting whatever they believe as the truth.

♦    There are many ways to know God, and they all are equally valid.

Most children and teenagers believe God exists to make them happy and solve their problems. They increasingly see Jesus as a little friend in their pocket whom they can take out when they have a problem to solve. Few children or teenagers are grasping that they exist for the glory of God.

Most children and teenagers cannot put their beliefs into words. They have only hazy concepts of the most basic Christian beliefs.

Parents are in a battle for the hearts and minds of their children. The voices that would confuse their kids are loud and often have hours a week to communicate their messages. In the best of situations, parents have too few minutes to confront those voices. Therefore, parents must not ever allow busy schedules to keep them from gathering the family for warm, Spirit-empowered Bible teaching.

Printed Guide

Parents need a guide to know how best to move through Scripture over the years. They also profit from printed guidance in knowing how to make timeless truths come alive for a new generation. Church leaders need to place in the hands of parents publications that provide a plan for family study and worship.

Parents need a printed plan that:

♦    Has an overarching plan to present the full counsel of Scripture over a period of time.

♦    Has creative approaches that make teaching relevant and interesting to specific ages of children.

♦    Has creative ways to make family worship warm, intimate, and relational.

♦    Has a variety of ways for families to pray together.

Practicing Spiritual Disciplines as Families

Parents must lead their children to practice spiritual disciplines such as Scripture memory and prayer.

Research Conclusion

“[Children] should also be taught to practice their faith in the sense of consistently working on skills, habits, and virtues in the direction of excellence in faith, analogous to musicians and athletes practicing their skills. Many religious teens in the US appear to engage in few religious practices. But even basic practices like regular Bible reading and personal prayer seem clearly associated with stronger and deeper faith commitment among youth.”

Sharing Testimonies

Parents must create opportunities for family members to share spiritual testimonies.

Tom Elliff reminds parents: “One day it will be impossible for your friends and family members to access all that is stored up in the library of your heart. That is why it is imperative for you to share with them now the simple story of your conversion. A legacy of faith in Christ is the most important thing you can leave with them. So, tell them ‘your story.’ And, while you’re at it, ask them about theirs.”

Beyond their story of conversion, parents need to tell their children what God has been teaching them lately. They need to describe ways they are growing in the Christian life.

Question

How many days, months, or years has it been since you said things like this to your child?

♦    “Come sit down over here. I want to share with you something new that God is doing in my life right now?”

♦    “I have been looking forward to breakfast this morning because I want to tell you what God showed me in Scripture during my quiet time early this morning?”

♦    “The truth of that sermon hit me hard this morning. Son, you need to know what I committed to God at the close of the service?”

They need to explain how they have made moral decisions and life decisions recently.

♦    “Son, in this crazy world I probably could figure out some way to have an affair. But I never have and never will. Can I share with you why I am absolutely faithful to your mother?”

♦    “Sweetheart, come over here and look at this income tax form. I want to show you a box where I could fudge on a number and never be caught. Can I explain to you why I choose to be completely honest with my taxes?”

Parents’ past and present testimony will shape a kingdom generation. The absence of such words will stunt the next generation.

Praying as Families

Family prayer must be a part of formal spiritual instruction. Prayer during family worship and devotionals will seem more natural if parents pray with their children every night. Praying with toddlers at bedtime seems comfortable to most Christian parents, but seventeen-year-olds need it just as much (and perhaps more).

Prayer during family times must have variety. Too much predictable sameness makes prayer seem like a ritual. Parents and even children need to think of new ways to pray, new places to pray, and new words in prayer.

Family prayers should include prayer for one another. Parents may find it meaningful to stand behind children with hands on their shoulders or head while they pray over them. Children can do the same over parents and siblings.

As with any prayer group, families should be faithful in recording their prayers of intercession so later they can record the ways God chose to answer. Such journaling teaches children a life-altering lesson about the power of prayer.

Starting New Traditions for the Family

Mark Matlock speaks to tens of thousands of teenagers a year, but he knows the power of parents to impact their lives. “Some of us experienced wonderful parents who instilled in us a sense of destiny in following God’s wonderful plan for our lives, but for others, the task is not to extend a positive family legacy, but to begin one. Starting today, every Christian parent can begin to create an environment of hope, vision, and excitement about following the greatest Leader the world has ever known in the greatest challenge we can ever experience.”

Discipline in the Home

In some homes adult self-fulfillment and stress avoidance take precedence over the demanding work of disciplining children. Children with a kingdom focus seldom come from homes with weak discipline.

“My son, keep your father’s command, and don’t reject your mother’s teaching” (Prov. 6:20).

“A rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a youth left to himself is a disgrace to his mother” (Prov. 29:15).

Bruce Wilkinson says to parents:

♦    “As a parent you have authority because God calls you to be an authority in your child’s life.

♦    You have the authority to act on behalf of God.

♦    As a father or mother, you do not exercise rule over your own jurisdiction but over God’s.

♦    You act at His command.

♦    You discharge a duty that He has given.

♦    You may not try to shape the lives of your children as pleases you but as pleases Him.”

James Dobson adds:

♦    “I am recommending a simple principle: when you are defiantly challenged, win decisively.

♦    When the child asks, ‘Who’s in charge?’ tell him.

♦    When he mutters, ‘Who loves me?’ take him in your arms and surround him with affection.

♦    Treat him with respect and dignity, and expect the same from him.

♦    Then begin to enjoy the sweet benefits of competent parenthood.”

Modeling God’s justice means parents are in authority over their children. They make decisions about structure, limits, and behavior; and they enforce those decisions. They never stop parenting, even when they are emotionally tired.

When older children and teens pull against their decisions and their structure, they hold the rope. They dole out more rope as kids show growing maturity and responsibility, but they never turn loose completely.

Here is a paradox:

♦    The parent who chooses to be a buddy instead of a parent likely will not end up with a buddy but with an estranged teenager or young adult. On top of that, parents who try to be buddies seldom rear children with a kingdom focus.

♦    The parent who chooses to be a parent instead of a buddy likely will end up with a warm, lifetime friendship with that child. On top of that, godly parents who parent are most likely to rear kingdom kids.

Modeling Obedience and Submission to God

Children who watch their parents graciously and positively live in submission to God’s authority are not likely to conclude that those same parents lord it over them for their own ego needs. Those kids intuitively seem to know it is safe to obey someone who himself has chosen to live under authority.

A Roman centurion came to see Jesus. The soldier was both under the authority of his commanders and exercised authority over his subordinates. This helped him clearly to see his need to come under the ultimate authority of Jesus. The soldier’s clear understanding of spiritual authority and relationships caused Jesus to remark, “I tell you, I have never found anyone in Israel with faith like this” (Matt. 8:10 TEV). Children and teenagers are likely to follow a parent who honors God’s authority.

Using Consequences to Discipline

“Discipline your son while there is hope; don’t be intent on killing him” (Prov. 19:18).

Many parents respond to disobedience with emotional outbursts. Usually those are weak responses with limited impact. “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath” (Prov. 15:1).

Yelling

♦    Is a choice. No child can make a parent yell.

♦    Is a sign of an emotional weakness in the parent.

♦    Usually mimics the yelling a parent’s parent practiced.

♦    Frightens children when supposedly strong parents lose emotional control.

♦    Damages a child’s sense of self.

♦    Pushes children away.

♦    Leads to injuries that can last for years.

♦    Makes restoring closeness later much more difficult.

♦    Seldom leads a child or teenager to a permanent change of heart.

♦    Leads children to become cold, distant teenagers.

Parents who want kingdom kids to emerge from their homes will stop using emotional outbursts as their typical response to bad behavior. Connecting behavior with consequences is far more effective than sharp words in changing the bad behavior.

Kingdom parents let their children know what the limits are.

♦    “You may play anywhere in our yard, but you may not leave our yard.”

♦    “You may choose any game you want that does not exceed the rating limit we have set.”

♦    “You may not stay out a minute later than the curfew we have set for you.”

Natural Consequences

When children and youth disobey, they need to experience the natural consequences of their actions. Natural consequences are outcomes kids experience on their own without the intervention of parents. A child who disobeys about completing studies and then is suspended from a sports team over grades is experiencing natural consequences.

Wise parents do not step in to rescue their kids from the natural consequences of their actions. With rare exceptions they allow those consequences to become powerful teachers for the future.

At times, however, natural consequences are inadequate in themselves to decrease foolishness because they lack power or they come too late.

Logical Consequences

When natural consequences are insufficient to confront a rebellious child’s behavior, wise parents engineer logical consequences. Logical consequences are both intense and immediate.

Placing a child in time out, grounding a child, and taking away car keys are all logical consequences. They are not a natural result of disobedience but are a response parents have engineered. They allow a child quickly to see the foolishness of his choices.

Good Behavior

Parents need to show children every time their good choices lead to positive, natural consequences. And parents need to create positive, logical consequences (rewards) in response to other good choices. Highlighting positives is just as important as giving attention to negative consequences.

Mutual Accountability When Appropriate

As my own son approached adolescence, I had to decide whether to mimic the majority of parents I had observed during three decades as a youth minister. I had observed most parents in a cat-and-mouse game related to issues of morality. Here were the suppositions underlying the game:

  1. Parents have their act together, but teenage children are always pulled toward the dark side of life.
  2. Teenagers typically hide their darker leanings from parents through clever deception.
  3. Parents must use skill and daily vigilance to catch their teenagers in those deceptions.

Two thoughts kept me from beginning the same game with my own son.

  1. I was keenly aware that my fallen nature is just as problematic as his. I needed accountability just as much as he.
  2. I guessed that he would welcome mutual accountability but would find six years of playing cops and robbers distasteful.

In a quieter moment, I said to my son: “Clayton, what you least need these days is a dad who experiences a moral failure. Not only would this offend God, but it would harm your life in many ways. And naturally a moral failure in your life would break my heart as well. Since we already have our hearts connected and trust each other, how about we gently hold each other accountable in areas of morality and purity?”

Clayton responded warmly and positively, a vastly different reaction than I have seen in some homes. We have developed questions we ask each other related to thoughts and actions over the past week. Since I am just as responsible for answering the questions as my son, this time never feels like the third degree. Many families might choose gentle, grace-filled accountability over an alternative that seldom is effective.

Vigilance with the Media

God expects parents to serve as the gatekeepers who decide which voices and influences enter their homes.

♦    Kingdom parents study rating systems for games, music, and media and stand firm on what may enter their home. Other parents don’t raise the issue because they fear making their children unhappy.

♦    Kingdom parents designate acceptable television programs that build children rather than harm them. Other parents let the television run all day with no thought of the impact.

♦    Kingdom parents study Christian reviews of movies before sending their kids there. Other parents don’t want arguments so they keep quiet.

♦    Kingdom parents disable Internet access when no parent will be home. Other parents hope some inadequate filter will provide a little protection while they are gone.

In the real world what parents do about the media matters.

♦    Children who have spent hundreds of hours splattering video opponents with shotguns may find kingdom compassion for others difficult some day.

♦    Children who have spent hundreds of hours repeating the despondent lyrics of music may find kingdom optimism hard to embrace some day.

♦    Children who have spent hundreds of hours looking at images of naked people in every kind of perversion may find kingdom purity elusive some day.

♦    Children who have spent hundreds of hours listening to the mesmerizing messages of nonstop television may find a kingdom worldview unacceptable some day.

An executive with a twenty-four-hour music/television network once said: “We don’t influence your teenager. We own your teenager.” Kingdom parents must decide if this will be true.

Clinical Observation

“When parents are very emotionally warm, available, and affectionate and balance these qualities with consistently high expectations and a firm but fair disciplinary style, they create an emotional context or climate in which children thrive. Children from these homes tend to be secure, well-adjusted, and generally healthier and safer than their peers.”

Give Children and Teenagers a Heart for the World

Begin with “Jerusalem”

A child or teenager’s closest circle of friends should be growing Christians. The older children become, the more powerful the influence of that inner circle becomes. This same principle applies to teenagers they date or court. They must be maturing Christians, or harm usually will follow.

Parents who desire to rear kingdom children will lead them first to have a heart for lost people near at hand. Christian kids in firm relationships with an inner circle of other Christians can safely reach out to lost peers. In essence those Christian friends become a rescue squad holding on to and supporting one another as they reach across the quicksand to friends who need Jesus.

Some church parents, fearful of the world, try to isolate their children from the lost. Those same parents probably hope their children will grow up to be strong adults who then will try to win the world to Jesus. Unfortunately, there is no magic switch a parent can throw to change an older teen’s mind-set from “avoid lost people at all costs” to “redeem all persons to Christ.” Parents who have reared the family with a bunker mentality probably will get young adults content to live out their lives in that bunker.

On the other hand, children who can’t remember a time when family members weren’t focused on lost friends and acquaintances will probably grow into a young adult with a heart for the world. A heart for his “Jerusalem” will easily lead to a concern for the “uttermost parts of the earth.”

Questions

♦    How many days or years has it been since you joined with your child to pray by name for a lost friend?

♦    Which acquaintance of your child could you volunteer to help your child pick up for church this Sunday or Wednesday?

♦    Could your children name an adult friend of yours they know you are seeking to lead to Christ?

♦    When was the last time someone made a profession of faith that a member of your family had a part in reaching?

♦    What step can you take this week to lead members of your family to have hearts for the lost?

Family Missions Service

Parents who perform acts of missions and service with their children make a lifetime impact on those children.

Research Conclusion

“[Children’s] memories of involvement in service are better predictors of their faith maturity as adults than their memories of participation in Sunday school, Bible study, or worship services.”

This research from Search Institute does not suggest that church Bible study and worship are unimportant. They are foundational for any Bible-believing family. The research does suggest, though, that most kingdom-focused young adults tend to have experienced missions and service while young. Parents who never do such activities with their children or teenagers are missing one of their most powerful opportunities for impact.

God calls families to missions locally, nationally, and globally. Parents need to partner with church leaders to become knowledgeable about opportunities for families in each arena.

Gary Smalley notes: “Taking mini-mission trips to your local Salvation Army to serve Thanksgiving dinner or help the poor can be a tremendous bonding time, or plan several years in advance to save up to visit one of your church’s missionaries in the field.… [You will] never lose the closeness that can come from trips like these.”

Family Finances

Family mission trips nationally and globally require money. God may be calling families to choose to live more frugally than necessary in order to release unusual funds for kingdom expansion. Some years an international mission trip as a family may take priority over the newest high-definition big screen television.

Wise parents involve children and teenagers in making decisions about finances. A family meeting might include questions such as:

♦    Since our family has more than enough resources, how much do each of you suggest we commit to ministry with starving people each month?

♦    Who would be willing to do a Web search of organizations that assist starving people in the name of Jesus Christ?

♦    What can each of you suggest we cut back on so we will have enough money to commit to this project each month?

♦    How can we get stories and feedback from the organization we channel our gifts through so we can know of the kingdom impact being made?

Family Prayer for the World

Children who have grown up praying about global kingdom issues are most likely to become kingdom-focused young adults. Wise parents will include prayer for the nations and for kingdom concerns when the family gathers for study and worship. Parents can ask church leaders to help them find printed and Internet sources for fresh prayer needs, locally and globally.

International Relationships

Children and teenagers will sense a closer bond with a region of the world when they have developed relationships with persons there. Family or church mission trips to a new region provide the most powerful new relationships. A trip taken during childhood might cause such a bond with a people group that a grown child might make trips back for a lifetime.

Parents can also nurture global relationships by orchestrating their children meeting internationals living in the US. A child might always feel closeness with a country or people group represented by an engaging international student invited to share Thanksgiving with the family.

Television

Church parents sometimes say:

♦    I know we should be praying and studying as Christian families, but honestly we can’t find even fifteen minutes for such gatherings.

♦    I know doing a service project as a family would be memorable, but where in our feverish schedule would that ever fit?

♦    I know I need to go to my kids’ bedrooms more often for long talks, but all I have time for is just the basics to keep our home operating.

Somehow the math does not add up. The average adult watches television two hours and thirty-eight minutes per day. Perhaps parents have more discretionary time than they realize. If parents watched one hour of television an evening, suddenly ninety-eight minutes would be available for family worship, supervising homework projects, crafting wise discipline, and listening to the hearts of children or teens.

Church families will not reach their potential as kingdom families until they begin to manage television.

Challenges

  1. Turn off the television during meals. Families that watch television instead of enjoying conversation during mealtime are dysfunctional. They are using media to anesthetize their lack of communication. Parents who want healthy, kingdom kids will turn the set off.
  2. Turn on the set only for specific programs. The television and the microwave are appliances, and they should be on only when it serves a purpose. Televisions that stay on hours at a time have enormous power to impact children, teenagers, and even adults. Sets that stay on for hours add to the noise and chaos of the home. Sets that stay on for hours hypnotically catch the attention of family members who otherwise would do something purposeful.
  3. Turn on the set primarily for programs to be viewed as a family. Watching television together allows at least some opportunity for communication and closeness. Watching television together allows parents to raise issues related to worldview and values being communicated. Watching television together means the set can be off before and after the program the family has chosen for the evening.
  4. Apply the same standards of morality to the programs you watch as to guests in your home. Do you allow guests in your home to curse in front of your children? Do you allow unmarried persons to sleep together in your guest room? Do you allow guests to get drunk in your family room? Do you allow guests to become violent in front of your children? Why would you have a double standard? Why would you believe powerful television images are less a moral issue than persons in your home?
  5. Avoid placing television sets in children’s bedrooms. Such an error guarantees a major loss of communication in families. One of the few values of owning a television is the power it has to draw the family together to the family room. This value is lost if family members separate for hours to their separate sets. Such separation becomes even more damaging when teenagers have the option of spending long hours alone in their rooms with a private TV. (Parents who dread pulling sets out of bedrooms need to consider whether their goal is to be a buddy or a parent to their children.)
  6. Carefully evaluate whether to place a set in the master bedroom. Parents need to consider whether they want a set in order to watch programs “not suitable for the kids.” Is immorality more acceptable for adults than for the young? Will children be confused by parents who speak against sinful thoughts and deeds but seem to enjoy watching that in others? Parents also need to consider whether a set in the master bedroom represents an escape from active parenting. With so few minutes between dinner cleanup and bedtime, parents must evaluate carefully the temptation to escape into a hypnotic trance rather than connecting with the children.
  7. Consider buying a digital video recorder. Parents need to lead the family to decide how much television to watch, what to watch, and when to watch. Those are complicated decisions. What and when the family chooses to watch almost never will correspond with broadcast schedules. Busy families need an easy way to record those rare programs appropriate for Christians so they can be viewed at the precise time that best fits the family schedule. Also, gathering the family for a meal or for prayer becomes less traumatic when programs airing then can be recorded for later.
  8. Make a firm decision when the television will be turned off for the night. That time should allow preparation for bed without chaos. That time should allow parents to end the day with relaxed conversation and prayer with children. That time should allow parents and children to get the sleep recommended for their age groups.

Taming the television can mark a major step toward becoming a kingdom family.

Partnering with the Church for Greater Impact at Home

Many church parents experience shock and awe when they discover they are to be the primary spiritual leaders to their children. Most assume that duty lies with church ministers and leaders. It doesn’t.

Parents ready to assume this amazing responsibility need all the help and support they can get. Though church ministers and leaders are not the primary spiritual leaders of children, they can be powerful partners with parents ready to take on this role.

Training in Parenting

Parents of infants and parents of college students need specific training in parenting. As children grow, parents find themselves parenting every age of child for the first time. Without specific training, most parents tend to reproduce the failed parenting approaches their own parents may have used. Parents need to partner with church leaders in designing training events that provide instruction in both parenting and spiritual leadership.

Most church leaders already are overworked and under resourced. It is unfair for parents to ask for new attention to home issues without offering their time, support, and resources for these new ministry ventures.

A partnership between parents and church leaders offers the greatest opportunity to grow children into kingdom young adults.

Summary

♦    Spiritual instruction in the home always has been God’s ideal.

♦    Parents never abdicate to the church the final responsibility for the spiritual instruction of their children and teenagers.

♦    Children and even teenagers are eminently teachable at home.

♦    Spiritual instruction and impact in the home lacks power without prayer.

♦    Kingdom parents provide spiritual instruction in the home both formally and informally.

♦    Informal spiritual impact takes place as kingdom parents model truth and values.

♦    Informal spiritual impact takes place as parents use gentle reasoning to communicate values.

♦    Kingdom parents must teach God’s Word to their children out of their own hearts.

♦    Kingdom parents must lead their children to practice the spiritual disciplines.

♦    Kingdom parents must create opportunities for family members to share spiritual testimonies.

♦    Kingdom parents must make family prayer a part of formal spiritual instruction.

♦    Children with a kingdom focus seldom come from homes with weak discipline.

♦    Children and teenagers know it is safe to obey a parent who himself has chosen to live under God’s authority.

♦    Connecting behavior with consequences is far more effective than sharp words in changing behavior.

♦    Parents who perform acts of missions and service with their children make a lifetime impact on those children.

♦    Taming the television can mark a major step toward becoming a kingdom family.

♦    A partnership between parents and church leaders offers the greatest opportunity to grow children into kingdom young adults.

Parents’ Prayers

Each of the numbers below represent a day of the month. Parents can pray over their children a unique way each of thirty days each month. Some parents place this list in their personal digital accessory to make it more available each morning.

 

Day 1—Salvation

Lord, let salvation spring up within my children that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory (Isa. 45:8; 2 Tim. 2:10).

 

Day 2—Growth in Grace

I pray that they may “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).

 

Day 3—Love

Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to live a life of love through the Spirit who dwells in them (Eph. 5:2; Gal. 5:22).

 

Day 4—Honesty and Integrity

May integrity and honesty be their virtue and their protection (Ps. 25:21).

 

Day 5—Self-control

Father, help my children not to be like many others around them, but let them be “alert and self-controlled” in all they do (1 Thess. 5:6).

 

Day 6—A Love for God’s Word

May my children grow to find God’s Word “more desirable than gold—than an abundance of pure gold; and sweeter than honey—than honey dripping from the comb” (Ps. 19:10).

 

Day 7—Justice

God, help my children love justice as you do and to “act justly” in all they do (Mic. 6:8).

 

Day 8—Mercy

May my children always “be merciful, just as [their] Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

 

Day 9—Respect (for Self, Others, Authority)

Father, grant that my children may “show proper respect to everyone,” as Your Word commands (1 Pet. 2:17 NIV).

 

Day 10—Strong, Biblical Self-esteem

Help my children develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:10 NIV).

 

Day 11—Faithfulness

“Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you,” but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts (Prov. 3:3).

 

Day 12—A Passion for God

Lord, please instill in my children a soul with a craving for you, a heart that clings passionately to you (Ps. 63:8).

 

Day 13—Responsibility

Grant that my children may learn responsibility, “for each person will have to carry his own load” (Gal. 6:5).

 

Day 14—Kindness

Lord, may my children “always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else” (1 Thess. 5:15 NIV).

 

Day 15—Generosity

Grant that my children may “be generous, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the age to come” (1 Tim. 6:18–19).

 

Day 16—Peace, Peaceability

Father, let my children “make every effort to do what leads to peace” (Rom. 14:19).

 

Day 17—Hope

May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13).

 

Day 18—Perseverance

Lord, teach my children perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to “run with endurance the race that lies before [them]” (Heb. 12:1).

 

Day 19—Humility

Lord, please cultivate in my children the ability to “show true humility toward all” (Titus 3:2).

 

Day 20—Compassion

Lord, please clothe my children with the virtue of compassion (Col. 3:12).

 

Day 21—Prayerfulness

Grant, Lord, that my children’s lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to “with every prayer and request pray at all times in the Spirit,” (Eph 6:18).

 

Day 22—Contentment

Father, teach my children “the secret of being content in any and every situation … through him who gives [them] strength” (Phil. 4:12–13).

 

Day 23—Faith

I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them (Luke 17:5–6; Heb. 11:1–40).

 

Day 24—A Servant Heart

Lord, please help my children develop servant hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly “as to the Lord and not to men” (Eph. 6:7).

 

Day 25—Purity

“God, create a clean heart,” and let their purity of heart be shown in their actions (Ps. 51:10).

 

Day 26—Willingness and Ability to Work Hard

Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work hard at everything they do, “as something done for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23).

 

Day 27—Self-discipline

Father, I pray that my children may develop self-discipline, that they may acquire a “disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair” (Prov. 1:3 NIV).

 

Day 28—Heart for Missions

Lord, please help my children to develop a heart for missions, a desire to see your glory declared among the nations, your marvelous deeds among all peoples (Ps. 96:3).

 

Day 29—Joy

May my children be filled “with the joy from the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:6).

 

Day 30—Courage

May my children always “be strong and courageous” in their character and in their actions (Deut. 31:6).[1]

 

[1] Hemphill, K., & Ross, R. (2005). Parenting with kingdom purpose (pp. 82–111). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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2 thoughts on “Christian Biblical Counsel: YOUTH, TEENAGERS, CHILDREN (Updated)

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