“All you care about is your stupid rules! You care about your rules more than you do about me! Thanks a lot for not caring.”
With these words your 14 year-old storms back to her room.
Sadly, this exchange is not unusual. Parents want to protect their children. Their teenagers don’t think they need protection. The parents make rules. The teenagers think the rules aren’t helpful and say so. The parents feel disrespected. The teenagers feel abandoned. The parents tighten up on the rules. The teenagers are convinced the parents don’t care and don’t want to care. And so it goes.
Nothing less than wisdom from above can address this breakdown. The Holy Spirit 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. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17-18
Take particular note of open to reason. Few teenagers would say their parents are open to reason. If you want to make progress in working out the stalemate with teenagers, I would suggest you start here. I am not excusing teenagers poor behavior, but leadership starts with the parents.
To be open to reason, you must be both wise and confident. The wise parent is comfortable with God’s word. He knows that a wise parent listens first and asks questions later. The parent who is open to reason welcomes the opportunity to hear what their kids think, even if it is unpleasant. He knows where to find answers in his Bible. He knows God’s Word addresses every issue he might face. He genuinely wants God’s answers more than he wants to prove himself right.
In a dispute, self-protection is often the first instinct. But for the wise parent, the first thought will be to listen, so that genuine understanding can develop. The wise parent isn’t compelled to defend himself first. This attitude breaks down barriers rather than erecting them.
Being open to reason is an important component of wisdom from above. Are you open to reason? Would your teenagers say that you are open to reason?
Your teenagers need to hear what you have to tell them. But you also need to hear what is in their hearts. Eagerly seek wisdom from above!