Why do you fight with your teenager?

Posted on · Posted in Communication, Teenagers, Wisdom

Why do you fight with your teenager? The answer is obvious, right? If your teenager was more respectful, if he would just do half of the things you asked, if she would actually listen, if you mattered half as much as the phone…? Of course there are some things that you need to work on, but the bottom line is your teenager specializes in making life difficult, right???

The problem with this scenario is that this parent is acting like her teenager is in control. Everything is dependent upon the teenager doing what is wanted or expected. The parent’s action is controlled by what the teenager does instead of what God commands.


Yes, really. James says that fights and quarrels come from within, not from the other person. When a potential for conflict occurs, you can either rely on wisdom from below or wisdom from above (James 3:14-18).

If anger, a quick come back, a spirit of hurt or accusation rule your thoughts you are being dominated by wisdom from below. If your focus is on peace, being open to reason and gentleness, and showing mercy, you are being dominated by wisdom from above.

James 3:17 describes wisdom from above this way:
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

Would your teenager describe your relationship with him in these terms, would you? You don’t respond this way to your teenager because they deserve it, you respond this way because God deserves it. Regardless of your teenager’s actions you can always respond this way. Even if you must enforce discipline or consequences wisdom from above should frame the words you speak.

Conflict handled with earthly wisdom results in brokenness. Conflict handled with wisdom from above leads to peace. If you have been practicing wisdom from below, it will take some time to turn things around.

How is this practical? If your teenager were to hear words of peace and sincerity, instead of frustration and anger, what difference would that make? If your teenager saw that you were truly open to reason and impartial, what difference would that make? If your teenager saw that you were gentle and full of mercy and kindness to them, what difference would that make?

Wisdom from above. A different way to handle life with your teenager. Don’t be a friend to the world. Stop being hostile to God and trust his precious wisdom from above. Don’t let your teenager be in control.  Model the lavish mercy of God to your teenager. It is more practical and powerful than you can imagine.

See James 3:14-4:6


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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.