Author

  • Tom Sugimura
    Tom Sugimura ministers the Gospel as the pastor of New Life Church and as a Greenhouse church planting mentor. He also teaches Biblical Counseling at The Master’s University and serves as an ACBC fellow. He and his wife, Amanda, are raising their four rambunctious children in Southern California and share their stories in "Hope for New Dads: 40 Days in the Book of Proverbs." You can find more of his writings at https://tomsugi.com.
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Category: Articles

Three Ways to Help the Parents of Teens

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February 28, 2024

Parenting is hard. And it seems to get harder every year our children grow up.

In the 1985 classic, Teen Wolf, Michael J. Fox plays a young man who transforms into a werewolf at inopportune moments. The results are sometimes awkward and mostly humorous, while making him a terror on the basketball court. Yet only recently, with teenagers of my own, did it strike me that this movie was also about coming-of-age.

Many parents dread the teenage years: raging hormones, bizarre smells, hair growing on their innocent child in new and different places. Yet such dread can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve heard parents say things like:

  • “My teen manipulates me with anger.”
  • “I feel like I’ve lost my cute, little boy. I can’t control him anymore.”
  • “She’s like two different people and I never know which one will show up today.”

Parents, however, can learn to embrace this age of opportunity. [1] Our children will surely change—not into werewolves, but physically, emotionally, and spiritually just as God designed them (Luke 2:52). A parent’s role, then, is to help our children navigate youthful passions and to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). More than ever, they need our presence, example, guidance, and affirmation (whether they admit it or not). Discipline and instruction may look much different than in those early years, though still we raise them “in the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

Because the teenage season of parenting can be fraught with weariness and discouragement, we need friends, mentors, and fellow moms and dads to come along beside us and offer support. Here are three meaningful ways to serve and strengthen the parents you know.

Pray with Faith

First, we need your prayers. You can pray for wisdom and steadfastness (Jas. 1:5). Pray for grace and peace within our homes. Pray for strength from the Spirit, the love of Christ, and the glory of God (Eph. 3:14-21). Pray for spiritual fruit when all we feel is frustration in the flesh (Gal. 5:19-23). Pray with us and for us through all the ups-and-downs of parenting teens.

Pray also for our teenage children. Pray for genuine salvation and for growth in Christ (Eph. 1:15-23). Pray for both the wayward prodigal and the pharisaical older brother (Luke 15:11-32). Pray that they’ll find faithful friends (Prov. 27:6, 17) and potentially a future spouse (Prov. 18:22). Pray that God will raise up workers for the harvest (Matt. 9:37-38). Pray with faith, and not with doubting, as you pray to our faithful and generous God (Jas. 1:6-8).

Encourage with Hope

As parents, we also need your hope when we’re running short on hope ourselves. Many of us feel like horrible parents who never get it right because each day seems like just another battle. Please encourage us in Christ and in his Word (Rom. 15:4; Phil. 2:1). Remind us that our hope is not in being perfect parents or raising perfect children. No one is good except for God and none are good apart from him (Rom. 3:10-12, 23).

Parents all fall short, just like our children (Eph. 2:3). Yet despite our imperfections, the Father loves us and sent his Son to be our Savior (Eph. 2:4-9). He forgives us when we fail and transforms us from within. This good news then shapes the good we do as parents (Eph. 2:10). Sometimes, we just need a friend or a shoulder to cry on when parenting is hard. Keep encouraging us with biblical hope.

Support with Love

As parents of teens, we especially need support. This may come in practical ways like carpools, tutoring, shared meals, and advice. Yet frazzled parents also need assurance that God permits us to take a rest. We don’t need our teens involved in every new activity. We don’t need added stress in our overly busy lives. Sometimes, we need help doing more, but often you can help us to be doing less.

We also appreciate youth leaders and older mentors in the church who build relationships with our children over anything from spiritual disciplines to auto mechanics to the culinary arts. Let God use what you enjoy to mentor teens. Take them out to meals and ask good questions. Partner with us as we “stir up one another to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24). You support us most by being our community.

Remember the Goals

As you seek to support Christian parents in these ways, help us to remember that our ultimate goal—above everything else—is to glorify our God with our lives (Col. 3:17). We must be reminded that, according to Ecclesiastes, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13). The Lord cares about our journey from infancy to adulthood, so we pray with faith that he will glorify himself through us and our children.

Christian parents desire for our children to grow in relationship with Christ—this is another goal we labor toward while entrusting the fruit to God’s timing and plans. From youth, we aim to bring them to Sunday worship, read the Bible as a family, and teach them how to pray. We hope they can see Christ in us through our example, but also when we fail and seek forgiveness. As we endeavor to be faithful, we need your help to remember that Christ-centered hope celebrates every step along this Christward journey, until our children have become our brothers and sisters in faith as well (3 John 4).

Lastly, another major goal of our parenting is that we would prepare our children to leave the home one day. We’re to help them develop in maturity until they thrive independent of our guidance. So would you take care to remind us that such training requires wisdom, humility, and God’s all-sufficient grace? That it must be done in love as we pursue our children’s best interests (Phil. 2:4)? Without this exhortation, we risk becoming like, “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1) in our children’s lives.

Faith, hope, and love—that’s the help all teenagers need. And as it turns out, that’s exactly the help their parents need as well.

 

[1] Many thanks to Paul Tripp’s insights on this topic.

Author

  • Tom Sugimura
    Tom Sugimura ministers the Gospel as the pastor of New Life Church and as a Greenhouse church planting mentor. He also teaches Biblical Counseling at The Master’s University and serves as an ACBC fellow. He and his wife, Amanda, are raising their four rambunctious children in Southern California and share their stories in "Hope for New Dads: 40 Days in the Book of Proverbs." You can find more of his writings at https://tomsugi.com.
    View all posts
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