Making an Impact in Your Teens Life

Question

Since our two children have become teenagers our marriage and family life has become much more discouraging and difficult.  Sometimes it seems like we have absolutely no impact on what our kids think, say, or do.  How can we make sure that we’re making a difference?

Answer

Welcome to the parents of teenagers club.  This is indeed the most difficult and challenging transition times for our kids and for our marriages.  Studies continue to show that marital satisfaction is usually at its lowest during the season of parenting teens.

Can you make a difference in the lives of your teenagers?  Absolutely.  Will the difference be immediately noticeable?  Probably not.  Given the nature of adolescence the reality is that it often takes a while for parents to see the impact of their investment in their kids.

A part of the problem is the challenging and confusing nature of adolescence.  They experience significant physiological changes including the ongoing development of their brain.  Major developmental tasks include differentiating, discovering who they are as individuals, making the faith of their mothers and fathers their own faith, determining what rules they’ll adopt for their own life.  In this process of differentiation it will often seem like we’re having little if any impact on their lives.

It’s made even more complicated by the many negative social influences.  Survey on media by Kaiser Family Foundation found that typical kids ages 8-18, spend 7 hours and 38 minutes a day with TV, computers, gaming systems, cellphones, music players, etc.  Medical experts tell us that this much screen time is bad for their mental and physical health and as parents we know it is also bad for their moral and spiritual health.

Numerous studies, including one at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, have found that most teenagers deeply care about what their parents think—but they don’t want their parents to know that.  They concluded that “the challenge for parents is to get across rules and boundaries in a way that doesn’t feel controlling.”  Right . . . so how do you pull that off?

Here’s the good news.  Never forget that a strong, consistent, Christ-centered, day-in and day-out, love-based relationship with our kids that helps them know they are loved, accepted, safe, secure and understood is the environment in which the “Good News” of the gospel will be caught and not just taught.  As they see love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, mercy, meekness, forgiveness, faithfulness lived out in your home; that will make the difference between kids who follow Christ as adults and those who don’t.  Don’t be weary in well-doing.  Pray hard, love hard, and trust God to be faithful to His promises.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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