Dr. John Townsend hits a parent’s struggle during the teen years right on the head when he says it’s “because we’re needed the most and wanted the least.”
Our teenagers need us as much as ever in their final years at home before they venture into adulthood, but they don’t exactly want us interfering in their lives.
Remember when your teen was a 10-year-old? They were more likely to say, “Mom and dad, can you help me with this?” Teenagers, on the other hand, say, “I’m a grownup; I don’t need your help.”
The unofficial mantra of teenagers everywhere is “Come close. Get away!”
That tension can be almost impossible for teens to hold in balance, which inevitably leads to conflict with their parents over boundaries, values in the home, and expectations regarding the teen’s choices and character.
That’s an obvious reason why the teen years can be rough for parents. To handle the emotional upheaval, parents have to recognize that their child probably isn’t trying to make the home miserable on purpose. A teen’s transformation into adulthood is God-designed, but it can still be a rough road to walk. Recognizing that your child’s sometimes chaotic mindset really isn’t about you can diffuse a lot of emotion for you.
But even if it does, there are still all of those conflicts and behavioral challenges to deal with. What then?
Dr. Townsend will be our guest for the next couple of programs to help all of us parents get a handle on how to channel our child’s often misguided energy toward more productive outcomes.
To start, he offers four pillars that he suggests ought to guide our interactions with our teenagers:
The first is love. No matter what behavior they’re choosing, children need to know their mom and dad love them and are for them.
The second is truth. Families have to speak truth to one another in respect. Even if they disagree vigorously on certain subjects, they can, and should, do so respectfully.
The third is freedom. The freedom to make their own choices isn’t something parents “give” to their teens. Teens can obey or disobey the rules if they want. But…
The flip side to the third pillar is the fourth: consequences. In the same way teenagers have the freedom to choose their own behavior, they also choose the consequences that go with it.
Along with those foundational pillars that undergird parenting, we’ll discuss with Dr. Townsend practical scenarios many of us will face as parents, like these:
- How do you handle a strong-willed teen who seems impervious to discipline?
- How do you respond to your teenager when they walk away from the faith?
- What should your stance be if your teen is disrespectful?
- What should single moms do to best help their child to navigate the teen years?
We’ll discuss all of that and more.
So join us over the next couple of days for, “Establishing Healthy Boundaries with Your Teens.” You can listen on your local radio station or listen anytime online or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app.
Dr. John Townsend is a best-selling author, a business consultant, and a well-known Christian psychologist. He’s also the founder of the Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling.