A conversation with a young teenager

Posted on · Posted in Communication, Gospel, Shaping Influences, Teenagers

“Stop bothering your sister.”


“Because it is not nice to do that to her.”

“Well, she is not nice to me. Why should I be nice to her?”

“God says you should be nice to her.”

“Well, then, you should tell her that. If she starts being nice to me, I’ll be nice to her. Its not like I am hurting her or anything.”

“But that is not how it works. You should do what God wants no matter how your sister responds.”

“So, what do I do when you get mad and yell at me?”

“You shouldn’t talk to me like that!”

“Why? I am not being disrespectful or mad, I just asked you a question.”

“You just shouldn’t. Look I have to take your sister to piano practice. When we get back you and I are going to talk to your father.”

Mom leaves. She is angry, but no more than usual. She has this conversation with Josh a lot. By the time she is halfway to the lesson, the confrontation has been forgotten. Josh knows the conversation with dad will not happen. He is actually relieved that Mom is leaving. He has some things he wants to check out online.

There is no script to follow to “fix” this problem with Josh and his mom. There are no magic words to say. What is missing is Mom’s lack of focus on the heart – her heart and Josh’s heart. Mom has allowed things to be all about behavior.

If she puts her attention on Josh’s heart attitude she will see beyond Josh being irritated with his sister. Her son is in full combat with being a teenager in a world that has little concern for God. Both of Josh’s parents need to invest care and time in their son. They need to follow Paul’s urging to view Josh as more important than themselves. They need to know what drives the concerns of his heart.

When mom sees irritation from her teenage son, the first response should not be to correct behavior. The goal is to cultivate a relationship that allows her to come along side of him and find out what he is upset about. His bothering his sister is most likely a by-product of personal struggles in Josh’s life.

Yes, Josh needs direction and discipline. But first he needs to see how his relationship with God impacts his life and the things he struggles with.

Josh needs to be known and loved by parents who are blown away by the love of God in their lives. There is much work to be done, but this must come first. Think about it!

Sign up for our weekly newsletter! You'll get our latest blog posts, special discounts, news about upcoming resources, plus a free ebook and a chance to win our monthly $50 coupon giveaway.

Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.