What Parents Say
The years of adolescence bring a whole new set of challenges for many parents. How can you help your child succeed in this phase of life—which may be as confusing to him as it is to you? Note what some parents from around the world have said.
“When he was younger, my son would take my counsel without questioning it. But during the teenage years, he seemed to lose confidence in my authority. He questioned both what I said and the manner in which I said it.”—Frank, Canada.
“My son doesn’t talk as much as he used to. I have to ask him what’s on his mind rather than expect him to tell me. Getting him to answer a question isn’t easy. The answer will come—but not right away.”—Francis, Australia.
“Patience is very important. At times we may want to lash out at our children, but calming down and having a conversation with them is always a better solution!”—Felicia, United States.
“Sometimes my teenage daughter has this wall of defense that she puts up, and sometimes she thinks that I’m picking on her. I have to remind her that I love her, that we’re on the same team, and that I’m rooting for her!”—Lisa, United States.
“When they were younger, my children readily opened up to me. It was easy to draw them out. Now I have to try to be understanding and to show that I respect them as individuals. That is the only way they will open up their hearts to me.”—Nan-hi, Korea.
“It’s not enough to forbid teenagers to do certain things. We have to reason with them and have meaningful conversations that touch their hearts. To open the door for that, we need to be ready to hear what they have to say, even if that includes things we would prefer not to hear.”—Dalila, Brazil.
“If I have to correct my daughter, I try to do so privately rather than in the presence of others.”—Edna, Nigeria.
“Sometimes when I am talking with my son, I begin to get distracted by other activities in the home and I don’t give him my complete attention. He realizes it, and I think that is one of the reasons why he doesn’t talk with me much. I need to try to pay more attention to him when we talk so that he will continue expressing himself.”—Miriam, Mexico.
“I had always been apprehensive about granting independence to my teenagers, and it definitely has been a source of some conflict. I discussed the matter openly with them. I explained why I felt fearful, after which they explained why they desired more freedom. We were able to reach an agreement by which they could have more freedom within the reasonable limits that I had set up.”—Edwin, Ghana.
“My son wanted a motorbike. I was so much against the idea that I found myself scolding him and pointing out all the negative aspects of buying one, without giving him any opportunity to explain himself. That made him angry and more determined to get one! I decided to try a different approach. I encouraged my son to research the subject from every angle, including the dangers, the expense, and the requirements to obtain and maintain a license. I also told him to seek the advice of mature Christians in the congregation. I came to realize that instead of being oppressive, it was better for me to encourage my son to talk freely about his wishes. In that way I could reach his heart.”—Hye-young, Korea.
“We set limits, but we also granted freedoms, gradually. The better our children handled those freedoms, the more they received. We provided them with opportunities to earn freedom, showing them that it was our desire for them to obtain it; but we would not withhold consequences if they abused our trust.”—Dorothée, France.
“I never lowered my standards. But when my children were obedient, I was willing to make concessions. For instance, on occasion I would relax their curfew. But if they broke a curfew more than once, there would be consequences.”—Il-hyun, Korea.
“The more obedient and responsible an employee is, the more consideration he will receive from his boss. Likewise, my son can see that the more obedient and responsible he is within the boundaries we have given him, the more independence he will gradually earn. My son knows that just as an employee is penalized for not fulfilling his responsibilities, he can lose the independence that he’s earned if he doesn’t handle it responsibly.”—Ramón, Mexico.
[Blurb on page 22]
“Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life.”—Proverbs 22:6, Good News Translation
[Box/Pictures on page 23]
“Parenting Adolescents Is a Wonderful Experience”
Joseph: My two oldest daughters are teenagers, and I find that it’s important to listen to and acknowledge their viewpoints. Being honest about my own shortcomings—and showing respect when talking to my daughters—helps keep the lines of communication open. All told, I feel that parenting adolescents is a wonderful experience, thanks to the guidance we get from God’s Word, the Bible.
Lisa: I noticed that when our oldest daughter became a teenager, she needed my attention even more. I can remember spending much time listening to her, talking with her, and reassuring her. My husband and I let our daughters know that they can express themselves and that we will respect their feelings. I try to apply the wisdom of James 1:19, which says to be “swift about hearing, slow about speaking.”
Victoria: My mom is my best friend. I’ve never met anyone as sweet and as caring—and she’s that way with everyone. I can’t think of a better word to describe her than “genuine.” She could never be replaced.
Olivia: My dad is caring and generous. He’s always giving of himself even when we don’t have much ourselves. He knows how to be serious, but he also really knows how to have a good time. He’s a special dad, and I’m glad he’s mine!
“We Don’t Have Time to Be Bored!”
Sonny: If the girls have a problem, we sit down as a family and discuss it. We’re always open with one another, and we base our decisions on Bible principles. Ynez and I also try to make sure that the girls have good, mature associates. Our friends are their friends, and their friends are ours.
Ynez: We stay active, and we do things together as a family. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we’re busy with the ministry, personal and family Bible study, and volunteer work—including disaster relief and Kingdom Hall construction. We also balance all of this with good recreation. We don’t have time to be bored!
Kellsie: My dad is a good listener, and he always consults the whole family before making a big decision. My mom is always there for me whenever I need help—or just to talk.
Samantha: My mom makes me feel so special, so loved, so important—even when she doesn’t realize it. She listens. She cares. I wouldn’t trade our friendship for anything.
The Camera family: Joseph, Lisa, Victoria, Olivia, and Isabella
The Zapata family: Kellsie, Ynez, Sonny, and Samantha
[Picture on page 22]
Parents may grant a degree of independence, but they also establish reasonable boundaries