Dealing with A Difficult Teenager
by Paula Thomas, BMCH
Are you frustrated with your teenager? Are you getting to the point where you don’t have the energy to deal with them? How do you as a parent respond to your teenager?
It seems that teens today are growing up in a prosperous society with so many career opportunities and have access to virtually limitless information. Yet, these teens feel more disconnected than any generation before them. Even teens from a good Christian home feel alienated from their parents, from adults in general.
Let’s take a look what happens when children enter the stage of adolescence.
First, adolescence means change. It seems like almost overnight your cute, charming little bundle of joy, who was always a delight to be around is now moody and often an unruly teenager. It is pretty difficult when one minute they are smiling and the next minute they get upset, stomp away, and become sullen and silent. Our once perfect children are now forgetful, irresponsible, insolent, and confused all in the same day. That sure is difficult to deal with isn’t it?
So how do you as parents respond to your teenager?
Most of the time parents think that the teen needs more structure. More rules, lay down the law, and tighten the screws. Parents also have a tendency to think it is their job to fix the problem, correct misbehavior, and enforce the rules. The parent’s well-meaning effort often leaves their child feeling more disconnected from the family. Clearly, parents must provide clear guidance and hold their children accountable for their actions even when the kids feel confused and disconnected. Teens need to follow the rules even when they think that they have the right to make up their own.
The question remains then, how do you as a parent provide appropriate rules and guidelines for them without prompting them to disconnect from you?
The answer is related to how the rules are presented. You must present them in the context of a loving relationship. Teenagers do not respond to rules, but they respond to relationships.
Rules - Relationships = Rebellion
Rules + Relationships = Response
If your kids perceive that you are more concerned about the rules than about them, then they will be tempted to disregard the rules. When kids know that they are more important to you than the rules, that you love them no matter what, they are more likely to follow your guidelines.
Relationships are very important to God.
Speaking for God, Moses said, “And now Israel, what does the Lord your God require you to do, but...to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statues which I command you today for your good?” (Deut. 10:12-13) As rebellious as Israel was at times, God always treated them like a loving Father, doing everything for their good. The Ten Commandments we’re given as a safeguard and a blessing not a burden. The law was God’s loving effort to protect and provide for His people.
Telling your kids “that I am doing this for your own good” doesn’t cut it especially if they don’t see or hear the unconditional love through time and attention from you.
So, remember rules within a loving relationship usually leads to a positive response. Now just to let you know that not all children will rebel, but many will, but of course in various degrees. For the adolescent it is a time of discovering their individuality and what God is preparing for each and every one of them. It is a time of uncertainty, they wonder about the future, desiring to be cared for yet at the same time wanting eventually to be on their own.
With love, open communication, and constant prayer, you as a parent can get through these turbulent times, preparing your children to be responsible and God honoring adults.
About the Author
Paula Thomas, BMCH is a Wife, Mother of 9, and grandmother of 11. Paula is a Deans List graduate from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Social Work, (BSW) and is a Board Certified Mental Health Coach. With over 40+ years of personal and business experience Paula has a wealth of knowledge and lessons learned to share. During her career Paula has worked for Christian Homes for Children, Agape Family Center, Christian Life Center, and Thomas Kids Klub Day Care. Paula has extensive experience working with parents and children. Paula works with individuals, parenting groups, or parents and children together. Every relationship is different, and Paula will help the parents or caregiver to enhance their current home life and communication to create a more peaceful living environment for everyone involved.
Over the years, Paula has been involved in volunteering in multiple Youth and Kids Ministries and helping out at Chosen 300 providing meals on a weekly basis and ministering to those in need. As a mother and grandmother Paula has a strong understanding of children. As an Advocate for Children, Paula will help ensure the children she works with receive the attention and understanding they need in order to grow and believe in themselves. Children need to have someone who is willing to listen and help them communicate what they are thinking, feeling, seeing, and living through.
It is our belief that children need a stable environment to grow and someone who can help them navigate and understand various situations they come across.