Do you feel like you’re in a long dark tunnel with no end in sight? I know that feeling because I experienced it too! The teenage years can be a challenge for both parents and teens. In order to successfully navigate these years, parents need to make some significant shifts in the way they parent. This isn’t easy.
Teens need to find their identity separate from their parents, but they still need guidance and wisdom as they find their way. They’re dealing with peer pressure, self esteem, questions about faith, and other issues in the ever-growing complexity that is our modern world. And this is all happening in a “sex-crazed” and materialistic culture. Teens are struggling today to find their identity and a purpose for their lives.
At the same time, they often give off messages to adults that they don’t want anything to do with us. Wow!
Many parents of teenagers go to one of two extremes. They treat their teens like they are still 5 year-olds or they get so frustrated and just throw up their hands in defeat. Neither of these extremes is particularly helpful. There is a middle road. Research has shown us that when parents remain engaged with their teens through the tough years, they are more likely to continue with a vibrant faith.
Mentoring and Coaching
Another key factor is other mentors in their lives. Kara Powell of the Fuller Youth Institute says that every teenager needs 5 mentors in their lives other than their parents. These are folks who go to their sporting events or their play and engage them in discussion about life issues.
They model genuine Biblical faith for these young people and a safe place to ask questions. These can be informal relationships.
I’m writing a book about grandparents gaining a vision for this role in the lives of young people in their community, church, etc. I’m field testing some concepts right now.
I love working with teenagers! Most of my experience is actually with young teenagers, Middle Schoolers. I’ve been a leader with WyldLife, a Youth Leader and I’ve coached a lot of kids this age. Now I’m working with parents and young people.
I learned a lot the hard way with my oldest son Dave. Dave and I are very much alike and we started butting heads when he was about 12 or 13. His teen years were a rough time for both of us, but we made it through! Dave developed an amazing amount of patience with me as a teenager. And I learned to make the important shift to more of a coaching role as a parent. I’m very grateful for the mentors that the Lord brought into his life during these years. Through it all, we both made keeping a strong relationship a priority and that made all the difference.
Dave also went through a period of questioning his faith and this wasn’t always easy for either of us. I had to back off many times and let him pursue his search for something that could serve as a solid basis for his faith. It was such a joy for me to see Dave marry a young woman who also went through a similar search for meaning and purpose. Dave and Amanda’s wedding in 2014 was very special. The ceremony was Christ-centered and inspirational. Dr. Scott Turansky officiated at the wedding and I’m grateful to Scott for teaching me about the importance of making parenting shifts and the value of putting the emphasis on a strong relationship with your teen through those “dark years.”
We all like to say that the teen years may be a dark tunnel, but there is a light at the end of that tunnel. I understand that now more than ever before.
I love the opportunities I now have to share what I’ve learned with parents who are still in that dark tunnel. I hope that these thoughts and our many resources at the National Center for Biblical Parenting will make it just a bit easier for you. Please post questions and I’ll be happy to give you some feedback.
Ed and Joanne’s sons are now adults. Dave Miller married Amanda Truscott in April of 2014 and this was a wonderful celebration for the whole family. Dave now finishing up his training to become a Physical Therapy Assistant and Amanda is an athletic trainer at a local New Jersey High School. They had a baby girl on January 7, 2016 and we love our little granddaughter Madison Rose. Tim Miller lives in Lawrenceville and works as a civil engineer. The “Miller boys” love playing tennis together and a good round of golf.
Ed is a good friend of Dr. Scott Turansky. He and Scott have enjoyed working together, living in the same neighborhood and vacationing together with their families for almost 25 years. The two families have also worked together to develop the NCBP) over the past 20 years. Ed now serves as the Director of Development for the NCBP; the leader of the Family Ministry Consultation Team and a content presenter. Being a good parent, husband and follower of Jesus Christ are important values in Ed’s life. He also loves coaching youth baseball and rooting for the Yankees.
You can reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org.