“Caleb it’s time to take out the trash.” The fight following that simple request was like a tornado ramming into the house and taking off the roof. Screams erupted and before I could back out of his room we were in a shouting match over a chore that would have taken less than two minutes if he had just paused his game long enough to get it done.
I could feel my anger over his attitude elevating my blood pressure and forcing me to stand my ground over the principle of being respected as his parent. Before long I felt I had no choice but to threaten to remove his Xbox from his room if he didn’t do what I told him. In rebellion, Caleb rammed his fist through the bedroom wall in defiance while running down the stairs to take out the small bag of trash.
I could feel tears welling up in my eyes at yet another explosion. What happened to my sweet little boy who would run to help me put away the dishes? Ever since he turned thirteen every time I asked him to pick up stuff from the floor in his room or brush his teeth it was like World War III!
Most parents do not understand that a very important spiritual law enters into the life of teenagers at the age of twelve for girls and thirteen for boys. This is the age of accountability. This means that when your children turn into teenagers they don’t only have to adjust to their changing bodies, but they also must begin the lessons of discerning the differences between right and wrong.
When Adam and Eve ate the apple they ended the perfection of God’s once perfect earth and turned our world into a battlefield between good and bad. This is when Satan entered into the world and became the voice of evil.
Genesis 3:7a – “As soon as they had eaten it, they were given understanding.”
Understanding can only be achieved by being presented with opposites. Gaining this wisdom can only be realized when people have free will to decide for themselves what they are going to do.
In the story of Cain and Abel, we see that Cain chose to kill his brother out of jealousy. Before the death of his brother God came to Cain and told him, he was wrong.
Genesis 4: 7, “If you had done the right thing, you would be smiling; but because you have done evil, sin is crouching at your door. It wants to rule you, but you must overcome it.”
The first thing that all teenagers struggle with is their emotions. They feel deeply about everything. Cain let his emotions take over his ability to control his feelings and he killed Abel.
I realize this is an extreme example of bad behavior, but it also reveals the beginning of God’s plan to take the imperfection of the world and use it to teach people. Read Genesis 4: 8-15 and you will see that God gave out a punishment fitting the crime that Cain committed. It is an example to all people what will happen when you allow your emotions to take over your ability to reasonably react to a problem in life.
Cain and Abel’s story teaches everyone that if you choose wrong then your life will get harder. It explains how important it is to have self-control in a world where one wrong decision can change the entire course of your life.
This is the reason why it is so important for parents to teach their children about God’s principles. When we have God on our side then we know the difference between right and wrong. The Bible is our guidebook, it gives hundreds of stories and examples of how our emotions can lead us to murder, commit adultery, steal, drink in excess, and carouse with the wrong people.
Knowing God’s laws is important, but there is something else that is even more important. Our world is surrounded by an unseen spiritual world that interacts with this world. Demon spirits have the ability to influence our thinking and manipulate us into doing Satan’s will.
Ephesians 6: 10-12, “Finally, build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of his mighty power. Put on all the armor that God gives you so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks. For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age.”
Paul’s solution to this problem is by emphatically telling us in Ephesians 6:18, that our only recourse against evil is consistency in prayer. As parents, we must teach our children to pray and we must pray for them!
Jesus’ gave a simple prayer to His disciples when they asked Him to teach them how to pray. Read Matthew 6: 9-13, and pay attention to the last part of the Lord’s Prayer!
Matthew 6: 13, “Do not bring us to hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One.”
When you are part of a teaching world then you will be tested. Teenagers will be tested by their emotions with their families, friends and schools. Parents will be tested on how they react to their teenagers. The only way to be patient, when we are faced with the turbulence surrounding the lives of teenagers, is by being aware of how our world works.
Ephesians 6: 4, “Parents, do not treat your children in such a way as to make them angry. Instead, raise them with Christian discipline and instruction.”
It is very important for parents to act in maturity. We must not give into anger and use words that are judgmental and condescending. We must listen to what they are saying and work with them. At the same time be consistent with chores and requirements. Always be encouraging because as parents we understand what our children are going through because we were once teenagers just like them. Draw upon those memories and you will be the parent they need in their lives.
Explosions from teenagers are rarely about how a parent is treating them. It is an accumulation of everything they are facing in their lives. You are their sounding board and unfortunately, you are also the one they express their frustration with.
To be a good parent is to not hold everything your child has done wrong against them. Talk to them when they are reasonable and always with confirmation that you will always love them no matter what.
Our world is filled with teenage runaways because parents were unable to reach compromises with their children. Many teenagers have even been put out of their houses because their parents don’t know how to get through to them.
Christians should react differently to their teenagers, from how the people who don’t have God in their lives respond. They should love always and be patient most of all because they remember what it was like to be their age.
Caleb sat in his room waiting for my reaction to his newest hole. I walked into the room and told him I loved him. I explained when I handed him the plaster, that it was his responsibility to fix his mess. Caleb nodded his head in agreement and apologized for his explosion.
After a few minutes of talking, he explained how he was having difficulties in one of his classes at school. Quickly the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to why he had overreacted to taking out the trash. It was never about the chore it was about his frustration at school.
Quietly, I told him to get his book and together we would figure it out. Relief spread over his face and suddenly what had once been an uncomfortable nightmare of explosive emotions turned into a bonding time bringing us closer together. By the time evening arrived we had conquered the problem and once again I had my loving boy back.
Linda C Dipman author of THE GAME OF LIFE IT’S ALMOST OVER http://outskirtspress.com/gameoflife presents AND HIS LOVE SHONE DOWN my true life story! It describes all the persecutions I endured. It will put you on the edge of your seat as you read each vivid detail. You will feel terror and experience love like nothing you have ever read before. http://lovinghandsministry.com.