Custom CSS of Section contains Conditional Preview for See Life Campaign Elements

SAVE LIVES!
See Life 2021
Double your gift now!
Yes, I will help save babies from abortion!
$

Stretching Their Limits

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Teen girl smiling at a boy standing beside her

Encourage your teens to test boundaries in positive ways.

Last year, as our church planned its annual youth trip to Mexico, one dad took me aside. “I’m thinking about letting my 15-year-old daughter go, but I have one question. Can you guarantee it’s going to be safe?”

I looked him straight in the eye and said, “No.”

He was shocked.

“I can’t guarantee her safety,” I told him. “But I can guarantee you this. It’s going to be much safer for your daughter to travel to Mexico and go public about her faith, learn to serve, develop a heart of generosity and actually depend on God, than it will ever be for her to grow up in our community without stretching her faith or learning to take risks and follow the same daily routine where she thinks she doesn’t need God.”

As parents, we’re often concerned about our teens’ safety. That’s one of the reasons we give them appropriate boundaries. But here’s the problem: Teenagers love to test boundaries. If we try to keep a lid on our teens, they’re going to test the lid. But if we expose them to real life, where they have to act on their values, exercise their gifts and depend on God, they’re going to have far deeper convictions and much stronger character.

The age of testing

A Christian school tells a young man he can’t choose his own hairstyle and is surprised when the boy wears a wig to cover his hair. A Christian father tells his daughter not to see a certain boy, and the parents are shocked when they learn she’s sneaking out after bedtime to meet him.

The only surprise in these scenarios should be that they surprise us at all. Once children are about 13 or 14 years old, they’ve moved past a “discovery” age and they’ve launched into a “testing” age (an important part of their development). They pretend they have no parents, ask to be dropped off a block away from school and perfect the nonverbal communication of eye rolling. During this stage, a parent’s reaction is usually to tell them not to test. We batten down the hatches until they hit college. Then after one semester when some come home with failing grades, an unplanned pregnancy or a criminal record for drug possession, we wonder what happened.

When we tell our teens to follow our way and present it as the “only way,” we dare them to test us. A better plan is to channel their testing into positive behavior.

The shape of testing

Keep in mind that even as parents let their teens make decisions, they still need to implement boundaries when “testing” involves any at-risk behaviors. That said, many parents have found creative, healthy ways to shape their teens’ testing.

My wife, Carol, and I never made a decision for our teens that they were capable of making for themselves. I’d say, “What do you think about _______?” and launch a conversation. This built their confidence and helped them test the waters in a more controlled setting. And if their decision making drifted in a potentially unhealthy direction, I was able to help steer them back on track.

I know parents who gave their 16-year-old a budget and the responsibility to pay all the household bills. The teenager discovered that she was financially capable, and she learned that turning on the lights and television actually cost money. As her confidence and sense of responsibility grew, she became less interested in testing so many boundaries with her parents.

As we raise our teens, our concern is really whether they will follow us in the faith. One of the best things we can do is let them see the values we hold. If they see our values through our actions, we can better guide them to test their own spiritual gifts, their faith in God and their individual abilities.

So what about the dad who was contemplating the youth trip to Mexico? With his encouragement, his daughter did go on the trip. And she has never recovered — in the best of ways. By offering her something to test, this dad shaped how she developed her convictions and character. We can do the same for our teens. And that is the best way to keep them “safe” as we direct them toward a mature faith in God.

Ray Johnston is the pastor of Bayside Church in Granite Bay, California, and the author of  The Hope Quotient.

Dynamic CTA Template Below

Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
Emerson-Eggerich4-840w

Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.
Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Read More About:

You May Also Like

A man holds the belly of his pregnant wife. She holds a photo of a viable ultrasound.
Abortion

Abortion is Not a ‘Viable’ Option

An abortion is now legal at any point in some states if the baby is not considered viable. But what does “viable‚” mean, and who’s in charge of defining the term?

parents talking with their son about changes in society
Adult Children

Parenting Young Adults: Adaptability

Adaptability as a parent requires a mom or dad to get rid of the “shoulds” that tend to come from comparing their experience as young adults to that of their kids.

Tell Your Story

By sharing your struggles and triumphs, God can transform your courage into hope and faith for others.

see life episode 1 coming soon version

Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!