Five thoughts about parenting teens: Thought # 1 – Respect

13 – 13 – 13 

This past week our youngest child turned 13. That also means we have been parenting teens for 13 years! Sometimes we think we’ve got this parenting teen thing figured out, but many times we feel like we are still very much  learning.  I have also been a youth pastor for 13 years. 13 years learning from the best and the hardest of situations. 13 – 13 – 13!! 

I hope these next 5 blogs will help and encourage you to pick up what not to do from mine and others’ mistakes. I also hope you will see that parenting teens can be the very best of times as you move from your precious teen from dependency to independence and to see your relationship continue to grow to be one that you will treasure for your whole life. I love what Jesus said in John 15:6 “…apart from me you can do nothing”. I’m holding to that as I write this and encourage you to do the same! 

Let me start with a quick story. I was visiting my extended family in England a few years ago and we went to a British Walmart to get some amazing English chocolate (in my opinion Galaxy is the absolute best). As I walked to the front entrance I saw some teen guys hanging around the electric shopping carts meant for those needing assistance. I also saw the Walmart “welcomer” stood welcoming shoppers and watching the lads. I slowed down to watch the situation develop. One of the lads looked around and jumped on the electric cart and started to drive away. The welcomer shouted so loud I jumped, even though I was watching! He shouted “ooiiiii, get off that cart”. What do you think the teen said in return? I can’t repeat it to be honest. 

So what did I learn from this? Disrespect results in disrespect. If you expect someone to respect you then the least you can do is treat them with respect and that starts with your attitude and moves to your speech. When it comes to teens I’ve seen so many teens disrespect their parents with their attitude and speech but I’ve also seen so many parents do exactly the same. Both parents and teens are offended. But they are both guilty of doing what offends them. Does that make sense? 

Mutual respect was and is God’s idea. Romans 12:10 (NIV) says, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves”.   Matthew 7:12 (NIV) “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets”.  

Let me finish this first thought with a few other pieces to help us all understand this. 

A. Although respect is mutual God has called the parent to lead. So lead in a respectful way. Pray for patience cause I’m sure, like me, you don’t have enough. Don’t allow disagreements to fall into a shouting match to see who can shout loudest! 

B. Call your teen to a standard of mutual respect and don’t allow that standard to shift. Step back and take a moment to cool down if things get heated. Better to be respectful not forceful. Better to be consistent than to win! 

C. Work hard on respecting your teen by really listening. If need be, repeat what they say to make sure you’ve got it. Remember even murderers are allowed to have a defense before a verdict is given. 

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