Parenting a teenager is hard enough, but add in trying to be a Christian parent and the challenges become even greater. Parents today are dealing with issues that their parents never even thought about. As our society “advances” the pressures facing teenagers today grow, meaning that parents today have to take a different approach to raising Christian children.
Here are 7 ways that you can become a more effective Christian parent:
1. Know Who You Are
Yes, you are an adult, and you may think you know who you are. You may know why you do the things you do, but do your kids? Take a good look at how you parent and why you make the decisions you do. Are your methods effective? What are your reasons behind your parenting actions? Knowing yourself a little better will help you treat your kids in a manner that is more effective for building relationships.
2. Talk to Your Kids
How often do you catch yourself saying, “Because I said so,” or “Because I’m the parent” when your child challenges your demands or restrictions? Teenagers are very capable of understanding why you make certain decisions. Being open with your kids can open up lines of communication and respect. Take time to talk to your teenager about the things on your mind. Let them know a little about what’s going on in your head.
3. Listen to Your Kids
Listening can really open up lines of communication. Sit down and let your teenager talk without getting upset or interrupting him or her. Be an active listener. Use eye contact and nod your head. Ask clarifying questions and repeat back summaries of what it is being said.
Make sure your teen knows you are invested in the things he or she cares about. Teenagers are not always the most communicative individuals, so when they do finally open up you have to take advantage of those moments.
4. Offer Choices
Being a dictator is not always the most effective way to build a relationship with your teen. It can prevent communication and promote rebellion. Sometimes it helps to offer your kids choices. By offering options your child feels like he or she has some control. Allow your teen the chance to help you in the decision making process. Not only will it foster respect, but it will also teach your child how to make better decisions.
5. Do as I Say and I Do
Teens are very sensitive to hypocrisy. Do you expect of yourself what you expect of your teenager? If you want your child to open up, you have to be open. If you want your child to read his or her bible every night, you have to read your bible every night. Your teen may never admit it, but he or she will follow the example you set.
6. Discuss Your Faith
Even though you want your child to go to church and grow closer to the Lord, are you discussing it? Some parents don’t, and it can inhibit a child’s spiritual growth. Make faith a part of regular discussions. Ask how God is working in their school and personal lives. Tell them how you see God working around you. The more you discuss faith the more natural is will become.
7. Be the Parent
Some parents believe that they should be their teens “best friend.” However, most teens have friends. What they really need is a parent. Teens need someone to turn to for limits and discipline. They need a parent to set an example. They need a parent to offer unconditional love. While you should listen to your kids and talk about faith with them, teens still need you to be the parent in the relationship.