Preparing for the teenage years

Posted on April 4, 2014 · Posted in Parenting, Teenagers

Age thirteen is an important milestone in the life of your child. Your teenager is beginning to emerge into adulthood. These years are difficult; the process of maturing from child to adult is challenging. Think of all that has to happen in a few short years. The parent-child relationship must change from total dependence, obedience and submission to relative independence; respect and honor instead of immediate obedience; and unmediated accountability to God and church, apart from parents.


This is a drastic change. Sometime it seems that within mere moments your child has left home and been replaced with this teenager person. This person is the same one that was born some thirteen years earlier.  But he is also quite different. The “switch” to teenager is often traumatic for all concerned. The parents really weren’t expecting him and often neither was the teenager. So everyone may be surprised. The new teenager is feeling, thinking, wondering, exploring about things that are new to him as well. New things are happening to his body. Hair is growing in new places. A boy’s voice changes. A girl’s body takes on a different shape. It also changes on the inside and is now ready to produce children. Body chemistry is different. Life is different. Imagine the following scenario.


Suppose I told you that you were going to have a house guest in your home thirteen years from now. This house guest would most likely be quite different from the people now in your home. You would not have the option to decide whether or not this new guest would come. You would be required to provide all of his support and be responsible for his actions as soon as he comes into your home. He might be argumentative and selfish. Furthermore, this new guest would be residing in your home for at least six years. Remember, you don’t have a choice as to whether this new guest comes or not.


What would you do?


Well, you might ask me for some background data so that you can know what to expect when he arrives. That’s a good idea, but I would have to respond and say, “Honestly, I don’t know what he will be like. You see, the next thirteen years will be critical in determining that. So I really won’t know until he gets here. But let me warn you, if things don’t go well in this person’s life for the next thirteen years, things could be pretty miserable for the next six years he is with you.”


So you think again for a few minutes and ask me, “Well if the next thirteen years are so critical to what our life will be like for the next six years after he comes, would it be possible for him to come live with us now? That way we could start working with him now so that things might not be so terrible when he does come.”


Of course you get the point. The new house guest is obviously the teenager that your child will grow up to become. My point is that we seldom connect our immediate actions with the distant future.


Raise your children with an eye to what they will become. Hold tightly to truth of Scripture and the grace of our precious Savior.

Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.