What is expected of most teens in modern day culture is rebellion, irresponsibility, immaturity and a general stage of confused “quasi-childhood” where the guidelines for when and how to become an adult are foggy at best.

If you are reading this and you are the mom of a teenager, I want to encourage you! The teen years don’t have to be DREADED years! They don’t have to be filled with worry, fear and low expectations! They can be very blessed years that become a learning and growing experience for both you and your teens!

We need a paradigm shift in our way of thinking about adolescence. Quite frankly many parents just want their teens to escape drug addiction and teen pregnancy, maybe graduate high school and eventually get a job. If they can accomplish that much in today’s culture, they have done a good job raising their kids. While all of the above mentioned goals are good to have, they cannot be the standard that we look to. With our expectations of young people at an all-time low, teens are meeting them…or even coming a little short.

Before you throw stones at me, there is no judgment here. You’re looking at a woman who did struggle with drugs as a teen and DID become pregnant as a teen – I’ve been there – but I desire that each generation after me reaches even more of their potential, and at an even younger age! I believe we all want that for our children!

So how do we navigate parenting in the teen years with great success? Very carefully! Here are a few things that have helped me walk the journey from diapers to the altar with that handsome young man in the picture above (my son, Seth).

Trust God!

Sounds simple enough, right? Yet almost daily there are opportunities to look at what you see in your teen’s life and start the cycle of worry in your mind! Here is a thought to meditate on: God loves your child more than you do and He is smarter than you! I know – hard to hear, but it’s true. He has the plan. He has the answers. He knows all the right ways to lead you as you make the daily decisions that effect this young person’s life.

Imagine for a moment a fish on a line. There are two forces at either end, each one struggling for power amidst the give and take until one of two things happens: the line is held too tightly, breaks and the fish swims away; OR, the line is too loose, there is no control and the fish swims away. There is a third possibility though. The wise fisherman knows when to tighten and when to release the line, drawing the fish into the boat and then, at his discretion, he sets the fish back in the water to swim free – both are happy. The fisherman wisely guided the fish to what it ultimately wanted anyway – freedom.

I cannot imagine how I would have navigated the teen years without God’s wisdom given to me daily in every circumstance. I had to know when to tighten the reins and when to relax them, when to allow my son to make his own decisions and when to set a firm boundary. This fine dance was masterfully guided by someone much smarter than me! The wisest fisherman I know!

Releasing your child to God’s care and trusting Him to guide you is one of the most precious pearls of wisdom I can give to any mom. It’s a simple but profound truth.

See the Good!

This is one of the biggest lessons I had to learn when I saw my son struggling with some poor decision making. I started to focus too much on the attitudes, behaviors and actions that I felt were stifling his growth, and I neglected to focus on the attitudes, behaviors and actions that were developing his character in a very positive way. 

Here is the nugget to take away from this: When we speak to, magnify and focus on the negative that we see in our teens, we are creating an opportunity for them to do the same. When we speak to, magnify and focus on the good we see in our teens, we are also creating an opportunity for them to do the same. God spoke to my heart one day when I was allowing myself to become overwhelmed with some circumstances in my son’s life saying, “Acknowledge every good thing that is in Him in Christ.”

This is not an encouragement to ignore problems or fail to address a need for change; however, it is an encouragement to examine your heart. How do you speak about your child, and to your child. Is your focus on what they fail to do right? Is your focus on constant correction? Do they sense from you that you are consistently disappointed with them? How much do you speak to the GOOD in them? How much do you acknowledge when they please you – even in the small things?

Through every circumstance choose to see the GOOD. It takes faith – so have more faith in God’s ability to develop them than you do in the devil’s ability to destroy them! God is bigger!

Expect Greatness!

I want to leave you with the same thought that we began on – expectations. Don’t fall in line with the expectations of the majority. When you take a look at history, some of the world’s most influential leaders and nation changers were accomplishing great things in the years we now refer to as adolescence! Don’t look at these years in your teen’s life as the stage where they have zero responsibility, zero accountability and freedom to play all their days away. Soon they’ll be twenty something and still lack the skills, strength of character, and financial independence to get out from under your roof and into the great, big “real world.”

Instead, see these years as a launching pad for life! See them as years to develop God given talents, gifts and abilities! Expect greatness and you will be surprised at how your teen rises to meet those expectations! These are not pressure driven demands, but strong convictions that your teen can do and be more than you ever dreamed!

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