The Bible’s Viewpoint

What Is a Parent’s Goal?

WHICH of the following would you like your adolescent to become?

A. A replica of you.

B. A rebel whose mission is to become the opposite of you.

C. A responsible adult who makes wise decisions.

Some parents who choose Option C may act as if they favor Option A. They try to force their values on their adolescent, such as by telling him which career to choose. The result? As soon as he gains a measure of independence, he runs in the opposite direction. Ironically, many parents who sow Option A reap Option B.

Why Attempts at Complete Control Fail

You want your adolescent to become a responsible adult who makes wise decisions. But how can you reach that goal? One thing is certain: Complete control is not the answer. Consider two reasons.

1. The complete-control approach is unscriptural. Jehovah God created humans with free will. He allows people to choose the path they will take in life, whether good or bad. For example, when Cain harbored murderous anger toward his brother Abel, Jehovah said to him: “If you turn to doing good, will there not be an exaltation? But if you do not turn to doing good, there is sin crouching at the entrance, and for you is its craving; and will you, for your part, get the mastery over it?”​—Genesis 4:7.

Note that while Jehovah gave Cain clear counsel, he did not force him to heed it. Cain had to choose whether to get the mastery over his anger or not. The lesson? If Jehovah does not try to exert complete control to elicit obedience from his creatures, neither should you try to do so with your adolescents. *

2. The complete-control approach usually backfires. Imagine that you are confronted by a pushy salesman. The more he tries to make the sale, the more firmly you resist. Even if you need his product, you are probably put off by his manner. You want to get away from him.

Something similar could happen if you try to force your values, beliefs, and goals on your adolescent. Will he “buy” them? Not likely! In fact, your approach may achieve just the opposite, causing your adolescent to develop a distaste for your standards. All too often, parental attempts at complete control fail. What, then, can you do?

Rather than try to control your adolescent’s life completely, imposing your values on him as you might have when he was younger, help him to see the wisdom of doing what is right. For example, if you are a Christian, show him how living by God’s principles will bring him greater contentment in the long run.​—Isaiah 48:17, 18.

As you do that, set the example. Be the kind of person you want your adolescent to become. (1 Corinthians 11:1) Make clear the values you choose to live by. (Proverbs 4:11)  If your adolescent develops a love for God and his standards, he will make wise choices, even when you are not present.​—Psalm 119:97; Philippians 2:12.

Impart Practical Skills

As brought out on page 2 of this magazine, the day will come​—perhaps all too soon, in your view—​when your grown child “will leave his father and his mother.” (Genesis 2:24) As a parent, you want to make sure that he has the skills he needs in order to function as an independent adult. Consider some of the skills that you can help him develop now, while he is still at home.

Domestic Skills. Can your adolescent prepare meals? wash and iron his clothes? keep his room clean and organized? perform maintenance and basic repairs on a car? Developing such skills will enable either a son or a daughter to manage a household someday. The apostle Paul said: “I have learned, in whatever circumstances I am, to be self-sufficient.”​—Philippians 4:11.

Social Skills. (James 3:17) How well does your adolescent get along with others? Can he settle disputes amicably? Have you trained him to treat people with respect and to resolve conflicts peacefully? (Ephesians 4:29, 31, 32) The Bible says: “Honor men of all sorts.”​—1 Peter 2:17.

Money Management. (Luke 14:28) Can you help your adolescent to learn a trade, work within a budget, and avoid debt? Have you trained him to save for needed items and avoid impulse buying and to be content with necessities? (Proverbs 22:7) Paul wrote: “Having sustenance and covering, we shall be content.”​—1 Timothy 6:8.

Adolescents who learn to live by upright values and who have developed practical skills are truly prepared for adulthood. Their parents have reached their goal!​—Proverbs 23:24.

[Footnote]

HAVE YOU WONDERED?

● What is your goal as a parent?​—Hebrews 5:14.

● What will be your adolescent’s own responsibility when he becomes an adult?​—Joshua 24:15.

[Pictures on page 25]

Which would you like your adolescent to become?

A replica . . .

A rebel . . .

A responsible adult