Keeping the Faith

10 secrets for helping your teenager live what she believes
( [email protected] ) Nov 05, 2003 09:08 AM EST

If there is one thing parents fear most while raising a child is inevitable yet indispensible set of years where the child passes through the teen phase. At a time where physical bodily changes reflect greater introspective changes as a teen, other external influences in the arena of sex, drugs, alcohol, theft, violence can complexify the choices a teen makes despite being raised in a Christian home. There are stories about teens who go astray, weighing secular experimentation more heavily than rules of faith, but there are teens who remain spiritually grounded. It’s no doubt that parents play a huge role in guiding teenagers on their walk of faith. There are some parenting techniques and approaches which prove effective to helping teens keep their faith during this rough phase.

1. Speak by example

Although we do not want to rule out words as a key sword to show the divisions between what is acceptable and not acceptable, it is almost never contested that actions speak louder than words. At this age, teenagers are examining the world around them to find the examples they want to emulate. However, foremost, the examples parents show them is always the ones that leave the deepest impression on teenagers. Be forewarned: nothing can turn-off teenagers and gear them toward the opposite direction quicker than hipocrisy. Be consistent in words and action and allow both to reinforce each other to provide a complete picture of a role model.

"Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" (1 John 3:18).

2. Discuss the hard topics

Most teenagers are on the quest for what we can term Truth. As they are searching for what is right to emulate, they first want to pinpoint what it the embodiment of “right.” They may encounter anti-Christian messages such as evolution versus creation, new age “spiritualism.” versus Christianity as being the only way, and promiscuity versus monogamy. Bring these topics up with your teens, and if you don’t know the answer, it’s good to seek a Bible class that can help strengthen both your faiths. Always answer in biblical terms instead of using worldly logic to formulate your answers.

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ" (Colossians 2:8).

3. Provide perspective

Teenagers can easily become self-involved in their own quests that they do not see the world beyond their borders. You can help teenagers see their life as part of God’s great plan of salvation. Show there is meaning to life and remind them of the gratitude they should have from receiving so many blessings in their lives. As they appreciate God’s hand in their lives, you can also take them to do volunteer work to share their gifts. Instead of letting them think their teenage years is a time to find who they are, guide them to find and perceive themselves through God’s eyes.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

4. Encourage the fellowship of Christian peers

Having the right friends can make all the difference. It’s hard for anyone, let alone a teenager, to follow Christian values without a community of friends to practice them with. Encourage your child to attend the church’s youth meetings and activities so they may develop a regular circle of friends. At times, having Christian friends can be a influence teenagers to keep their values as a Christian and lessen pressures to conform to secular images. Having Christian peers can also supply good insight and advice, allowing teenagers to encourage one another by their sharing and testifying their communal struggles in faith.

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (Hebrew 3:13).

5. Show Love

Be an approachable parent. Instead of chiding at every mistake teenagers make, try to embrace them with love. Showing a patient and forgiving heart can teach teenagers the love of Christ, who loved and died for us inspite of our sins. The difference between a teen who chooses the worldly path and the teen who continues on the path of faith is the understanding of the love of God. Many teenagers feel repressed by keeping the many rules of faith but only when they realize the motive of rules as protection stemmed from love can they obey and follow whole-heartedly.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

6. Pray…a lot

There is nothing that we can do by our own power but only with the power of the Holy Spirit. As we pray, we can tap into that power and allow it to work in our lives. There is nothing more powerful than to pray for your teen and even schedule time whenyour teen can pray with you. God wishes to help us always but there are times when He cannot give His help to us unless we pray and ask. Prayers can give God a foothold to work on and allow the Holy Spirit to change the heart of your teenagers.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Phil. 4:6).