One: Fathers must lead the way.
There is no substitute for this primary requirement. (While single parenthood falls outside the scope of this article, all of these principles still apply.) God ordained the man to be the head of the household. When the father is not the head of the home, then none of the other rules used will really work. Teens must see, experience and submit to godly government in the home. They learn the proper respect for government through their home environment.
The man must be the force that stands for the right way in the family. He must take an active and intense interest in his children. Every man needs to examine himself and make sure that he does all he needs to be doing as the head of the house. He needs to lead in service and love as well as in authority.
To love your teens means that they must see you fulfilling your duty as the head of the home, working hard to sacrifice for the good and well-being of others.
Two: Establish a close family life.
Do you really know your teenager? Many think they do, but do they? Are you sure you know what is in the mind of your adolescent? Much of this depends on your home life.
Studies have shown that way too many parents never take the time to talk with their children. They have their own pleasures and activities, entertainment to pursue, business to take care of. They don’t take the time to talk with their teenager and don’t know what goes on in his mind. They are not aware of the problems he faces at school or the frustrations he may be battling.
How many parents devote time, each day, to talking with their children?
Has your teenager ever come to you with a serious problem on his mind, desiring to talk it over with you, and you gave him no opportunity to do so?
Do you ask your teens what happens at school each day? Are you taking the time to find out what they have been doing? Or with whom they have been associating? Not in a prying grill session with suspicion in your voice—but with open, friendly, warm and loving interest.
Do you ever inquire about their point of view on life and its challenges?
How about God’s Church? Do you take the time to ask them whether or not they desire to become members of the Church some day? Do you know what their attitude is toward God’s Church? Do you discuss sermons and Bible studies, Church literature or the Key of David program?
Sadly, most parents have little desire to draw close to their children. They make no effort to have fun as a family unit. Yet this is essential. There are all kinds of family activities that can help build mutual trust and respect.
There is nothing like a family eating its meals together to bring about a close family life. Mealtimes are regular, necessary and dependable occasions for bonding. This time provides an excellent opportunity for parents to get to know their youngsters. They can ask their teens about their daily activities, challenges and trials. Family walks, bike rides, game nights, yard work and other activities can also enhance family life. Any time spent together provides an opportunity to draw closer to your adolescents. This vital part of family life is too precious to neglect.
Three: Encourage family loyalty.
When a teen loves and respects his family, he will not want to bring shame or problems upon it. He will watch his conduct—exhibit loyalty to his parents’ teaching—so it does not reflect badly upon the parents. This attribute of outgoing concern motivates teenagers to do what is best for the family, not just themselves. Right loyalty to the family unit is indeed a precious and worthwhile attribute. Parents should cultivate deep loyalty in their children by displaying love and respect toward their teens and always having their best interest at heart.
There are many things a teenager can do at home. Parents should strive to provide a happy atmosphere and good time at home.
Allow your teen to invite a friend or two over on occasion and help them build godly social skills. Bringing other teens under your roof will teach you a great deal about your own youngster—and probably yourself.
Many teenagers will want to withdraw to their room, or to the neighborhood park, and feel their get-together is spoiled if their parents are anywhere around. Why this negative attitude? Often it’s because they want to talk and do as they please, having their carnal minds saturated by the foolishness of this world.
If you draw them out into interaction with you, you’ll be amazed to learn what is on their mind and what they share among each other.
Four: Give your teens responsibility.
Many parents never assign chores around the house, encouraging laziness and slothfulness. Too often, college dorm rooms reflect this lack of duty.
Through example and involvement, fathers should instill in their sons a sense of a man’s duties around the house—teach them how to fix a car, bike or light fixture. Sons should be helping out in doing yard work, painting the house, chopping wood or cleaning the car.
Leaving your boys on the basketball court or behind a game console all the time robs them of an understanding of the work ethic that some jobs just need to be done, whether they are considered enjoyable or not. These young men will not be prepared to lead a family by putting the needs of others before their own. They will only learn to do so if fathers show them. Too many gladly leave these tasks, as well as the running of the home, to the ladies, because they loathe the thought of hard work. They simply have not been taught, or would rather put their own pleasures ahead of the needs of their families.
Sadly, numerous men desert their families each year. Oftentimes, they are overwhelmed by responsibilities that come with fatherhood, because they never had a sense of duty inculcated while growing up. Many who do stay with their families are dominated by their wives. They allow the wife to take the responsibility for the family. Had these men learned responsibility as boys, this tragedy would not have occurred. To a degree, the blame lies with their parents.
Likewise, mothers must teach their daughters to do things around the house. Are you teaching your girls how to cook, sew and clean house? Too many reason that it’s too much trouble to teach her, or it takes her too long, and end up doing these chores themselves. Realize that in these cases, the mother is concerned only with herself. Where is the concern for the development of her daughter?
As a result, a whole generation of girls have grown up not knowing how to cook, sew or do basic housework. Many reach adulthood with no idea of how to manage a home or to decorate it tastefully. It is the daughter who suffers. But the fault lies with the parent.
The principle guiding adolescent responsibility is found in Lamentations 3:27: “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Today’s youth are encouraged to neglect responsibility. The philosophy of this world is to relieve children from all sense of duty. Teenagers are shielded from responsibilities, but the Bible shows it should be just the opposite. Children should have responsibilities at home as well as at school.
Too many parents neglect this phase of their children’s training. By giving your teens responsibility around the house, they’ll learn a sense of duty and discipline at the same time. It also helps them to see the end result of their actions.
Give your child a specific assignment—routine work that contributes to the smooth functioning of the home—that he or she is required to fulfill. Not only does this teach self-discipline, but they will also learn to assume responsibility on their own. As your teens grow toward adulthood, they should be able to assume greater responsibility. Start small when your children are young and increase the responsibilities as they grow older.
Five: Encourage your teenagers to mix with older Church members.
If you live in an area where you can attend Sabbath services regularly, encourage your teenagers to fellowship and engage with adult members of the congregation as well as their peers. Teenagers can gain much valuable experience in an enjoyable atmosphere and focus their minds on more serious and more edifying things.
Proverbs 13:20 teaches us the principle that, in order to be wise, we should walk with wise men. This verse certainly applies to teens. Rather than letting them associate only with other teens, be sure to include them in discussions with older, wiser men. Through these associations, a teenage boy will learn to love and to respect his father even more.
The same goes for young ladies. Your teenage girls should be included in conversations and encouraged to associate with older ladies in God’s Church (Titus 2:3-5).
Teenage girls should learn how to become Proverbs 31 women by looking to and studying the example of older women in the congregation. They should learn, while still in their teens, about homemaking and other things that will prepare them to be good mothers and wives one day.
Six: Don’t be afraid to tell your teens what will happen if they disobey.
Sometimes parents know their children are not doing what is right but are afraid to tell them. But why should parents be afraid of their own children?
You still have the authority to take your teenager aside and, in a good, serious talk, lay down the law. Explain just where he is headed if he neglects to obey. Tell him who is the head of the house. Let her know what her obligations are and what you expect from her. Make sure your teen understands—explain your expectations thoroughly. Lay down ground rules and enforce them. Remind your teenager that freedoms come with responsibility.
Too many young people in God’s Church excuse themselves from obeying God’s commandments in the letter and spirit by saying, “I’m not baptized yet!” They justify their disobedience and carnal actions.
Some hide behind the high school cloak, as if it were a shield from responsible thinking.
While it is true that they lack God’s Holy Spirit, they need to know that carnality, and friendship with the world, is enmity against God (Romans 8:7; James 4:4). God has never allowed such excuses for disobedience (see Leviticus 20:9).
Teenagers need to know that they will be judged by God for their own deeds! They themselves will have to answer for what they do. It’s time for them to sober up and face the facts.
“A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother” (Proverbs 10:1). How true this is! Every parent dreams of having his son or daughter grow up to be respected and liked, to be wise and understanding, and to make a good name for himself or herself. It is truly a reward of child rearing to see your son or daughter become a success in life. Real parental joy comes from seeing your teen progress in making wise decisions that prepare him for conversion.
But, as the proverb says, a foolish son is the “heaviness of his mother.” He brings shame, heartache and headache to his parents. For a parent, there is no worse feeling than to see the failure of his or her children. To sit back and watch your children reap harm from the things they sow is indeed painful. Seeing your children suffer for things you have neglected to teach them is agony.
But this does not have to be. Teenagers can see the hypocrisy of the world. They know society is crumbling. Yet their desire to belong can easily lure them into a future filled with pain, suffering and misery. Like a fish on a hook that’s stuck as soon as it bites the lure, so it is almost impossible for a teenager to be freed from Satan’s grip if he chooses Satan’s way of life. The moment the glitter of this world has lost its shimmer, he will wonder why we didn’t warn him of the shallowness of the appeal of Satan’s world and the devastating consequences of disobedience to God.
Yet more than hammering home the consequences of a wrong choice, we need to emphasize the incredible blessings that come from making right choices. Teaching obedience must be tied to instilling a vision (Proverbs 29:18).
Seven: Impress upon your teens the future God desires for them.
When God called you out of the world to help support the Work of God’s Church, He also intended that your children be called to that way of life. 1 Corinthians 7:14 states that our children are holy. They are set apart for a special purpose. God is a Family, and He works through families.
How many teens have concrete plans for their future? How many have their physical ambition sparked, like Herbert W. Armstrong, at age 16? More importantly, how many are on fire for a tremendous spiritual future? For some, the future is merely a vague idea. That can be a serious disappointment when their application for Armstrong College is turned down because of their lack of application in both physical as well as spiritual preparation throughout high school. Knowledge is expected to be retained beyond the test or exam. Parental interaction, instruction and inquiry can help them see beyond the here and now.
It is vital that we teach our teens about the incredible future that God offers them if they remain obedient. Teach them that only they can undo their sanctification and that, if they do, God may not call them in this lifetime. That would mean losing out on the incredible opportunity to rule with Christ and His Bride. The more vividly we can impress this vision of the future on our teens, the more they will strive to stay on the straight and narrow.
Many proverbs instruct us on raising teenagers. All of them require strong parental interaction with your child. Here are a few you may want to study: Proverbs 1:7-19; 5:1-14; 23:19-35 and 31:1-9.
God teaches us that it is vital that we instruct our youth to seek Him while they are young (Ecclesiastes 12:1). As Mr. Flurry has commented on 1 John 3:3, stating we must first, actively, teach this vision, before we hammer away at the law. Seize every opportunity to embed this vision in the mind of our teens! Strive to inspire them with God’s wonderful plan for them, and then show them how privileged they are to know that truth now!
If you’ve instructed and excited your teens about their incredible potential, then they should plan to sooner or later respond and seek conversion. Why should they make that step more difficult by gravitating toward the world when God’s people are told to come out of this world? If our teenagers understand that conversion is not just a complete change of what we’ve done, but that it involves a change of attitude and outlook on life, then here’s a great place for them to show God that they are serious about conversion.