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7 Things Parents Need To Navigate the Teen Years

 

7 Things Parents Need To Navigate the Teen Years

{and 7 Promises God Makes to Meet Those Needs}

by Cindy Fort

 

I look into her eyes, marveling at the nuances in color, at the glowing golden tans mixed with deeper browns that finally melt into the infinity of the pupil. The human eye is an incredible miracle! I am standing nose to nose with her – another astounding fact. This child in adult skin is a phenomenon, a marvel, a sensation, a wonder, a“non-pariel”…a sweet teenager with blue bangs. A “Warrior Woman” in the making. And after a rough stretch with friend issues, God has provided a small, solid band of like- minded “warrior women in the making”.

But this post isn’t about middle school friend angst or what God meant when He called her a “Warrior Woman” during my prayer time two years ago. Neither is it a post where I share tips for parents struggling with their teens based on my own current counseling work, as it started to be.

Why, you might ask? Because. Last. Week. Happened.

7_Things5

You’ve heard that when you are preparing to teach a lesson, God walks you through it first? He did. I did. Sweet Teen lived through it too! I have a degree and some experience, but what I truly am is a fellow traveler with you, imperfectly leading a teen through the forest of adolescence and to the mountain top of adulthood. Every one of my imperfections I continue to have is an indication and an invitation.   They are an indication that I have a need that can lead me to His provision. They are an invitation to the Lord to intervene according to His promises.

His promises and provision perfectly meet my problems.

I have found that pursuing 7 specific “needs” places me on a path that intersects directly with His promises in my own personal walk as a parent. These needs are (in no particular order):

 

  1. You need to hear God’s heart personally for your children.

This year began with a strong knowing in my spirit that God really wants to talk to each one of us personally. After all, isn’t this what “relationship” is all about? Talking and communication and coming to understand? It is a message He still is impressing on me. So I encourage you, sit down at His feet, in your heart, and listen. We know our children so intimately, but God knows them even better – and knows what He has written in His book about them (Psalm 139:16)! We can read books, go to conferences, and listen to teachings (and all this is beneficial), but God wants us to come to Him and hear His heart for our children and for ourselves. He is the One who knows the unique way He has woven your child together, and He delights in us reaching out to Him so that He can share His heart with us. Hearing Him call Sweet Teen a “warrior woman” as she was entering adolescence has helped me encourage her in the way she should go (Proverbs 22:6) even when that way looks a little unusual! His promise to you:

Call to Me and I will answer you,

and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

Jeremiah 33:3

  1. You need to trust God.

He really did know what He was doing when He gave this child to you. You are perfectly designed to raise the children He gave you! He didn’t make a mistake, trust me on this one! Reach out to Him when you feel inadequate to the task of raising this amazing person and let His infinite knowledge and wisdom fill you. His promise to you:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

  1. You need to have confidence

I have a friend that calls confidence, “God-fidence”, because you really are not relying on your own effort (you’re not, right?) to live this life of faith, but on the fact that God knows what He is doing. Mom, Dad, you have done a great job with your kids so far; there is no reason to doubt yourself and the positive things you have instilled in them. The fact that you see the ways you can still improve simply means that you are teachable. It is time to give up the impossible quest for perfection! His promise to you:

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you

will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

  1. You need to speak life over your teen.

Tell them that you know they are good kids. You can tell them this truthfully because of numbers 2 and 3! And they need to hear this from you, their parents. There are so many messages that pull them down in our culture. Remind them of God’s calling for them (number 1). Find encouragement in the Word (ask the Lord to direct you – He could use a unique scripture that you wouldn’t think applies to the situation at hand). His promise to you:

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;

It will not return to Me empty,

Without accomplishing what I desire,

And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11

  1. You need to be vulnerable

Never pretend to your children that you are better than you are. Be equally open about God’s grace to you as well. His promise to you:

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

  1. You need to be awestruck

Retain your sense of wonder and amazement over this person God has entrusted you to raise. Enjoy discovering their personality, strengths, weaknesses, beauty, gifts, talents, thoughts and desires. Enjoy helping your teen to discover these things as well! His promise to you:

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.

Psalms 65:8

  1. You need to cultivate community

Find a group of trusted friends that will listen to you, love you, and lift you up – both spiritually and emotionally.  We are made for relationships. If we isolate ourselves because we think we have blown our Christian witness as a parent in some way, we become emotionally imbalanced and our thinking becomes distorted. The better the relationships with our friends and with God are, the better our relationship with our teen will be. His promise to you:

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.

For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.

Ecclesiastes4:9-10

Last week, in the midst of the emotional storm, we had a girl’s night out planned with our small group moms and daughters. Even though Sweet Teen and I were at odds, we were determined to attend and have fun, putting on masks of “we’re fine” if needed(!). (I know, I know – that is so unhealthy, but I can revert to that when the pressure gets intense!) It was there, in the midst of community, that we really did become “fine”. We were honest with where we were at, we were accepted, we were supported, we were loved – we didn’t need our masks! In that atmosphere, the cloud of discord lifted, and our issues were revealed for what they were – small disagreements that simply revealed different perspectives. Sweet Teen and I were restored to each other and the impasse was over!

 

Not every conflict with our teens are small disagreements, but these same steps will be vital for more serious matters as well. In other stormy times, with an older child who plunged into full-blown rebellion, I found an article called the “Loaves and Fishes Principle”. It was, and continues to be, a great encouragement.

 

My prayer for you as I close comes from Paul’s letter to the Romans:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,

so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

 

 

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200MA in Counseling

BA in Biblical Studies

Diploma of Advanced Biblical Studies

Certified Right-Step Facilitator

Certified Faith-Based Counselor in the State of Texas

I am a woman, wife, mother, and grandmother(!). As a counselor, too, I have a calling to work with people who have lived through traumatic events. I have a passion, a calling, an anointing, and a purpose to help people understand God’s ways and how to apply them to their lives…I am a guide, an explorer, a fellow traveler – helping people find paths of peace and healing as they journey through life, piecing the broken places together again, moving out of woundedness and towards a restoration of the heart.

I have always loved art, and through using healing art exercises with some of my trauma survivor clients, I reconnected with the value of art in the counseling arena and more so, I reconnected with the importance of art to the total well being of each of our souls.

I absolutely LOVE to make a work of beauty, a piece of art that speaks a unified message through of the many smaller stories (pieces) that make up the whole. Every media I work in has that same concept. That is what I do as a counselor as well – I help others find the message of who they are through piecing together the fragments of their life!

 


 

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