Do You Respect Your Teen?

Parents of teens have a high (and hard) calling: Help them become adults. Depending on the day, we might give in to every whim because we don’t want a battle, or we don’t want them to struggle — or else we demand that they unquestioningly follow every directive.

Respect finds the balance.

Yes, your child should honor your authority while under your roof. But respecting them means that you give them particular attention or special regard. Respect is a way to show that they are worthy of high esteem. That you value who they are — their presence, opinions, and imperfections. That when the rest of the world is unsteady, you’re in their corner.

Practice basic kindness and respect.

Your teen needs to know that you care about their hopes and worries. So make time to listen (that doesn’t mean you agree). And if you’re in tighter-than-usual living quarters, be extra mindful of personal space. Model daily graces and how to go with the flow.

Trust your teen to the extent they’ve proven themself trustworthy.

Our goal as parents is to help our kids reach adulthood before they leave our home, not hope they figure it out after they leave. To do this, you have to concede freedoms, even when teens don’t use those freedoms wisely.

Set fair rules.

Enforcing boundaries is a necessary part of parenting. But as kids transition into the teen years, we can too easily become bound up by our boundaries. There are many reasons we cling to our parenting rules. Still, we must not forget we are raising unique individuals who will all too soon be trying to establish rules for themselves.

Be consistent in words and actions.

Teens like to know where they stand and what’s expected of them. When rules change and they get in trouble, they withdraw or lash out.

Admit when you’re wrong.

Teens respond to genuine honesty. Since most of them already know their parents aren’t perfect, showing imperfection is OK. Conversations that recognize a parent’s humanness are important in the parent-teen relationship.

Never belittle your teen.

Not publicly, not privately. Refuse to use cruel language — whether directed toward family members in your home or outsiders.

Distinguish between behavior and character.

Resist the temptation to be distracted by the symptoms and go for the deeper issue. Once you’ve identified the root of your teen’s behavior, you can deal with his attitude pattern, which stems from a heart issue.

Remember that your teen is worthy of respect because God created them and loves them.

This is basic to what it means to be human. Ask God to help you love your teen well through all seasons. Your decision to face teen-year-tensions head on and affirm your child’s value has eternal significance.

For a deeper look, listen to our broadcast “Parenting Your Tweens and Teens With Respect” (part 1 and part 2). And read our article Neither World: Parent-Teen Negotiations.