Parenting is such a blessing as I’ve written about before. Many people look on the teen years as a burden, and teens have been stereotyped and unfairly maligned sometimes in various media as being moody and rebellious. To be fair, these are very hard years for them. There are so many life lessons to learn during the teen years, and many of them are very hard, difficult, and even painful lessons. Moreover, although they do have much leisure and play time during these years, as appropriate, they are also working very hard at school and other activities. We can’t look at these years and think in terms of how we, as adults with years of experience, and with the benefit of hindsight, could manage that time better. If we are hypercritical, we should be honest and humble enough to admit that we did not do any better than they did at their age, so we should not demand more from them than their best effort. Since they don’t have the experience we do, we have to remember that they are most likely doing the best they can with what they know. Instead of criticizing or nagging them into doing better, it is more beneficial to model the behaviors we want in them. We should gently guide them toward right moral action founded in love, giving them an example, and encouraging the good things they do, dwelling on those positive things in our conversations with them. In doing this, we will build their confidence and courage, always gently guiding them towards better behavior, better treatment of family and other people, and a right relationship with God. Remember that God is extremely patient with us as adults when He teaches us, so we should be just as patient, kind, and gentle with our children when we are training them.
Sure there is a time for discipline or corrective counseling, but this should be done in love, only using the minimal force or negative action to get the lesson across. For the older teens, we should increasingly prefer corrective counseling rather than punishment, withholding of privileges, or grounding since they should have displayed increasingly better character over time and since we are training them to be adults. That said, I'm sure there are unique situations in which such methods are appropriate as guided by the Holy Spirit within us. But since we are preparing them to function as adults, we need to gradually prepare them for the adult world by treatment that they would encounter anywhere else in the workplace, community, market, etc. from other adults. This requires that we respect them as individuals and unique creations of God, that we respect their personal choices that are still within the boundaries of moral rules, that we give them freedom and privilege as appropriate, and that we respect their opinions and their interests, so long as they don’t violate any of the major religious or moral principles we’ve trained them on from Scripture. They are not "mini me's," not simply carbon copies of ourselves in miniature. They are distinct, separate, and unique creatures created by our Amazing God for a unique mission in this world, just as we, ourselves, were created for a unique mission in this world.
More on this tomorrow. I pray that you will be blessed by the children around you and that you will be a blessing to them as well.