Sometimes when I post a blog series, interest flags after a
few days. Last week I ran a series on parenting teens and the response was
overwhelming! In fact, one reader was
critical because she was looking for more than I could give in a blog
post. Please be patient, these are blog
posts (and mine are longer than normal anyway) not novellas! Because the
response was so great last week I am going to continue this series into this
One reason teens turn from biblical Christianity is because
they think their parents are hypocrites. Our children don't always hear our
words, but they always see our actions. If our actions are godly, they learn to
be godly. But, if our actions are of the flesh, they learn to live of the
One way parents are seen as hypocrites is when they are seen
as Sunday Christians. I guarantee you;
if you tote your Bible to church on Sunday and go to Bible study but don’t live
what you profess, your kids will know it and they will not respect you or the
Bible you carry.
Another thing sure to turn your teens off is if you tell
them, “Do as I say not as I do” which is another form of hypocrisy. There are plenty of Christian parents who tell
their children not to smoke, while blowing smoke from their own cigarettes in
the children's face. They tell them how bad it is for their health; how
expensive it is; how it's sin; and all the while, they are smoking themselves.
Don’t tell your children, “Even when I am wrong I am right”
because it smacks of incredible pride. Godly parenting includes a healthy dose of
humility. If you want to earn your teens
respect, admit when you are wrong and ask for their forgiveness.
Even though teens are in a time of increasing independence,
they still desire limits and boundaries. This is no time to be an absent parent; teens
want and need your influence and discipline.
You may think your teen is beyond discipline, but Scripture says a parent
“hates” a child they won’t discipline (Proverbs 13:24). Over correction or abandoning your parental
role in their lives will lead your teen to be embittered toward you (Col. 3:21,
If you wish to have an example of what tragedy can occur
when parents don’t discipline or disciple their children think of King David. He was a man who did not properly restrain
and discipline his sons. When his son Amnon raped his (David’s) daughter Tamar,
David was grieved (2 Samuel 13:21), but there is no indication in the Bible
that he did anything about it!
Later, we read that when Adonijah, another of David’s sons,
tried to steal his father’s throne. Once again, David did nothing about it (1
Another son Absolom was more outraged about what Amnon did
to Tamar than her own father was! Absolom had Amnon murdered for the rape of
Tamar, and for that crime David exiled him but eventually allowed him back. Later
on, Absalom led a revolt against David and his kingship, causing David to flee
Another example of absolute failure is Eli’s the priest (1
Sam. 3:13). If you recall, Eli was the father of Hophni and Phinehas who brought
shame and ruin to their father and sin into the Priesthood.
These two men did not know the Lord (I Samuel 2:12) and were
horrible and evil. They took meat which was to be offered as a sacrifice to God
(See Leviticus 7:31-35; 8:31; II Chronicles 35:13). As priests, they committed
adultery with the women who served in the house of God (I Samuel 2:22) and encouraged
others to do the same (I Samuel 2:24).
Eli knew the sins his sons were involved in but he did not
restrain them (I Samuel 3:13). The most he did was to tell them something akin
to “stop that!” Eli seemingly made no
other effort to stop the sinful manner of living and so he ignored the Law
Of course, these two rebellious sons, Hophni and Phinehas
did not listen to their father Eli (I Samuel 2:25). They were hardened in
heart and rebellious in spirit. All three of them died. The boys because
of their rebellion and wickedness, and Eli because he refused to parent and
Parents must take seriously the instruction of Ephesians 6:4
which reads, Fathers, do not exasperate
your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the
The three key words in this passage are: “exasperate,”
“training” and “instruction.” “Exasperate”
means to anger or provoke. “Training”
carries the idea of disciplining or chastening, and “instruction” means to
exhort someone regarding what has been taught. Put it all together and what’s
Paul saying to fathers?
“Don’t exasperate or anger or provoke your kids, since that
leads to them being discouraged. Instead, dads need to teach them Scripture and
when they don't obey it, discipline them.”
You must learn your teen; find your child’s strengths and develop
them and purpose to understand his or her deficits and correct them by
teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Tim.
3:16). Remember that the Christian walk
is one of repentance for your teen as well as for you.
If you are going to parent your teens biblically you have to
teach to the heart. Heart centered discipline is Gospel based discipline. Even
if your teen is unregenerate you should still teach, rebuke, correct, and train
in righteousness at the heart level (2 Tim 3:16). This may mean you have to change your parenting
goals. Rather than making the goal
turning out a smart, achiever who goes to college and gets a good job, make it
your goal to disciple your kids heart. Teach
them what it means to glorify God by how they live their lives, and make that
your overriding mantra.
Everything should be centered on loving God, glorifying God,
and loving others, serving others because that glorifies God. Instead of
telling the teens, “Do this because I said so” frame it biblically- and explain
they must do it because it glorifies God. They are to do something because it
serves others and that glorifies God.
This kind of teaching and training in righteousness helps
the teen to understand that contrary to that heart diagram that has them in the
center of the universe; it is not about them at all. This gives them an
“others” focus, even if they don’t want it.
So as not to be hypocritical, this has to become a part of your
life too. That little question, “Does this glorify God” has to become your
driving motivation and should really become the hub from which everything else