Tough Topics for Teens: The Parents You Have

Parents – It can be tough living with them and yet you can’t live without them. So what’s a teenager supposed to do?

Sometimes parents complain about the difficulties of raising a teen. Does anyone think its easy being a teen and having parents? Even Christian parents can be hard to handle. But why so much conflict?

God’s Design

Understanding God’s blue print for teens may help. When you were a child, THEY made all the decisions and THEY were responsible for you. They decided when you went to bed and what you wore and they were responsible to give you food and read you the Bible. When you are an adult, YOU alone will make all your decisions and YOU alone will be responsible to pay your rent, buy your clothes, and decide where you spend your free time. Therefore, the principle is, “Whoever is responsible, makes the decisions!”

Between childhood and adulthood, there are five years of “teenagerhood.” In this time, you begin to want to make your own decisions about what you wear, what music you listen to, and which friends you hang out with. This is good. God made it that way so you will begin to think about choices and get practice making them. However, go look at your parents’ tax forms. You are listed as a “dependent.” That means they are still responsible, so legally and Biblically they have the final say. Your parents are preparing you for the day when you will take the full package of decision-making and responsibility and run with it in a God-honoring way. But for now, God’s blueprint has you living for at least a half a decade (13-18) in this special position.

Can you see the beauty of God’s design? Have you ever thanked Him for it? You get five years of decision practice under the guidance of two people who have experience (they were teenagers once too!), who love you, and have to answer to God for the training they give you.

God’s Desire

So, what should you do? God says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3). The last thing a teen wants is to be called a child. However, God is not insulting you; He is just using it in the sense of “dependent.” God’s blueprint calls for you to “obey” your parents. That means, you can have a strong opinion, but they get the final say. You maybe won’t agree with their choice, but as a Christian teen, you will choose to carry out their decision because, “This is right!” It may not be easy, but it is good for you, the family, society, and the Lord.

But what if they are wrong? This is a special concern of Christian teens whose parents are not saved. This takes patience and discernment and perhaps it is best to consult with mature believers. If it is a violation of law or a clear commandment in Scripture, then carefully and kindly seek a way to minimize offense to them and maximize obedience to God. The limit is to obey them “in the Lord.”

But what if your parents just don’t understand? “Obey your parents,” says God. Why? Is it weak or wrong to submit? The Lord Jesus did. When He was 12, Mary and Joseph did not understand why He had stayed for three days at the temple instead of going home with the family. Jesus explained, “I must be about My Father’s business.” But when Mary and Joseph said He should go to Nazareth, “He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them” (Luke 2:51). Doing what your parents want, even when they don’t understand, is right. It is Christ-like!

Godly Development

So, what can you do to make life with your parents better? Don’t wait for them! God wants you to do far more than knuckle under and grimly and grudgingly do what they say. Don’t play the victim card and say, “I can’t help the situation.” Go ahead and take responsibility for the relationship. Eat with them. Go out with them. Get their opinion. Compliment them. Learn from their experiences. Talk to them. Share with them what you learned in meeting. Get their understanding of verses you can’t interpret. Even ask them to come pray with you.

Remember, you are responsible to God to honor your parents for the rest of your life. So start now! It may be a tough assignment, but go for it. With God’s help, you can.

Will it be worth it?

If you don’t learn how to properly treat and honor your parents, you will never learn how to care for other Christians. God says to treat him (an older believer) “as a father” and “elder women as mothers” (1 Timothy 5:1, 2). So learn now while you can.

Also, every man and woman of God in Scripture developed a good relationship with their parents. On the contrary, many whose lives were disasters chose to dishonor their parents. That is why God says, “that it may be well with thee.” If you want to prosper spiritually, you must learn to work with your parents. They are God’s chosen government in your home and they are responsible for you. So, have an opinion, and learn to express it properly. But in the end, honor them with obedience.

Check your attitude toward the parents God gave you. Do you thank God for them? Do you pray for them? Do you want to have a good long-term relationship with them? Do you want your teenagers to treat you the way you treat them? Are you obeying God by obeying them? What are you doing with your responsibility for the relationship with them?

Work at it and give them joy. God says, “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother” (Proverbs 15:20). The choice and the challenge are yours. What you are going to do with the parents you have?