Teenagers and Expectations

Posted on December 11, 2013 · Posted in Communication, Parenting, Teenagers

Look carefully at this passage and consider what the two sons were your teenagers:

What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 

” ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
      “The first,” they answered. Matthew 21:28-31

Being a teenager is not always easy. This has something to do with why it is not always easy to be the parent of a teenager. As children grow into teenagers, the expectations of both teens and parents also grow. Much of the conflict that arises during these years has to do with unrealistic and unmet expectations. It is these expectations that we will examine in the next the posts.

In the parable of the two sons, quoted above, a father asks the first son to go and work in the vineyard. The son indicates he has something better to do than fieldwork. Two people, two expectations. The father expected his request would be met. The son apparently had other expectations for that day. The result is that this first son appears to disregard his father’s expectations.

The father then goes to the other son and asks him the same question, would he work in the vineyard? Notice that the first son did not show any respect. He simply and defiantly said, “I will not.” The second son answers with respect, “ I will, sir.” So, now the father has an expectation that his second son will complete the task that the first son was given.

But, biblically, we do not have enough data to draw any conclusions about either son at this point. This is an important key to learning to be a biblical shepherd to your teenager. Why was this point not a good time to form expectations? Take some time to think about it. We will look at some possible answers in the next post. Thinking this issue through has enormous implications for parenting teenagers.


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.