Why is it that some teens are so obedient and others are not?
You may even find this to be true with teens in the same household. Teens raised the same way, by the same parents, can turn out drastically different. We have experience this in our family. You may have experienced it in yours as well.
How can we account for the sacrifficialness of Ruth, who willingly gave up her own future, and Isaac, who was willing to give up his life? What can we do to have our teens willingly obey without nagging and threaten? The key, I believe, is in helping our teens love God more. Loving God is at the root of obedience.
Ephesians 6:4 tells us:
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Fathers are responsible for the training of their children, even if they aren’t with the child as much as the mother. Fathers are ultimately responsible before God for the whole family. The wife is under the husband’s authority, and she implements what they decide together. Still though, the father is the leader with oversight and responsibility to God.
Provoke means to not exasperate. It’s the command given to us as parents in Ephesians 6:4. That means don’t frustrate your teen with too high expectations, criticism without love, withholding love, inconsistency, rejection, over-burdening them with rules and regulations, expecting too much— expecting perfection, overprotecting, spoiling, being overly permissive or too severe.
“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24
Teens need to feel loved and secure. In the absence of discipline, they will likely never feel either. Besides that, when we discipline in love it is an excellent example of how God treats His own children.
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
The discipline of our teens must reflect God’s discipline of us—consistent, in love, for our betterment, and not just to pay for the inconvenience we have caused Him.
To correctly discipline your teen, it is helpful to consider the cause of their disobedient actions. There is a big difference between willful, stubborn rebellion against authority and the natural, necessary pulling away that is part of their maturity. There's also a difference between what comes from their sin nature and what comes from changing hormones? Knowing the difference will be helpful when choosing the necessary form of discipline.
Teens need limits. We all need limits! That's part of society's problem today— the lack of limits. However, they also need freedom and flexibility. Treat your teen like an adult, but expect them to act like a child. They have the same emotional needs for love, security, and acceptance as a child does, even though they don’t always show it, recognize it or dare to admit it.
It's helpful to take note of the areas they choose to rebel in:
Ask yourself why your teen choose this area to rebel in?
Or, is there another reason altogether? It’s certainly something to consider. Pray and ask God for wisdom and insight. I always like getting to the root of the problem rather than snipping at tree branches in vain.
Pick your battles carefully! Never expect instant, immediate obedience in any area. If you get it, be grateful! They are no longer children, give them some space to exercise their own free will. If you can’t win a battle, don’t let it start. Decide what is major enough to make an issue of, and what isn’t. When you draw the line, do it with love, stick to it, and be consistent. Love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8). Always, in as many ways as possible, assure your teen of your unconditional love.
Keep their emotional love tank full and overflowing!
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8
When we must discipline, it’s so important for us to remember to use natural consequences instead of nagging, threatening or yelling.
Deprive them of a privilege:
Avoid power struggles and nagging at all costs!
Anything that makes your teen feel that you are treating them like a little child is going to be counterproductive. Be sure you don’t play favorites. Also, make sure you don’t expect more of one child than you do another.
"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." —Frederick Douglass
The instruction of the Lord refers to training in a way that is preventative, so that correction isn’t as necessary. We accomplish this by our example as well as our words.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
So, how can we help our teens love God more?
How do you help your teen love God more?
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