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Going for walks together, grabbing a coffee in order to “catch up,” going to the movies together, etc., all all simple investments that teens secretly want and look forward to.
When you don’t carve out time to spend with your teen, you’re communicating that you’re not interested in them, and they internalize that message, consciously or unconsciously. Letting your teen’s activities take top priority for your family.
The number of parents who wrap their lives/schedules around their teen’s activities is mind-boggling to me. I know many parents want to provide their children with experiences and opportunities they never had growing up, but something’s gone wrong with our understanding of family and parenting when our teen’s wants/”needs” are allowed to overwhelm the family’s day-to-day routines. The devil-may-care ambivalence that once defined the teenage subculture has now taken root as parents shrug their shoulders, ask, “What can you do?
Parents need to prioritize investing in their relationship with God (individually and as a couple), themselves and each other, but sadly all of these are often neglected in the name of “helping the kids get ahead.” “Don’t let the youth sports cartel run your life,” says Jen singer, author of You’re A Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren’t So Bad Either). ” and let their teens “figure things out for themselves.” I think permissive parenting (i.e., providing little direction, limits, and consequences) is on the rise because many parents don’t know how to dialogue with and discipline their children.
I can’t think of many good reasons why families can’t limit teens to one major sport/extra-curricular activity per season. Maybe parents don’t have any limits of boundaries within their own life, so they don’t know how to communicate the value of these to their teen.
Not only will a frenetic schedule slowly grind down your entire family of time, you’ll be teaching your teen that “the good life” is a hyper-active one. We are all tempted to think that loving our kids means doing all we can to ensure they have all the opportunities and things we didn’t have growing up. It leads to an enormous amount of self-important, petty, and ungrateful kids. Parents need to recognize they’re doing their teens a disservice by spoiling them in either of these ways. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to, because their own self-esteem is too tied up in their child’s perception of them, and they couldn’t handle having their teen get angry at them for actually trying to parent.
For an example of how the this difference in perspective plays out, I’ve written an article entitled “The Future of an Illusion” which is available as a free download from the Free Downloads section). This one is one of my personal pet peeves (but not just because this is my professional gig).It might be difficult for some parents to read through, but here’s a top ten list that I’ve been wanting to write for a while.Over the next several days I’ll be expanding on each of these in succession, but for now, here is my top ten mistakes Christian parents of teens make: 10. A lot of parents make the mistake of not spending time with their teens because they assume their teens don’t want to spend time with them!I certainly do not advocate authoritarian parenting styles, but if we practice a permission parenting style we’re abdicating our God-given responsibility to provide guidance, nurture, limits, discipline and consequences to our teen (all of which actually help our teen flourish long-term). Even through their teens, your child needs a dependable, confident, godly authority figure in their life.As parents we are called to provide a relational context characterized by wisdom, protection, love, support, and empowerment.