“Jesus went on progressing in wisdom and in physical growth and in favor with God and men.”
SONGS: 41, 89
1, 2. (a) What do some parents of teenagers worry about? (b) How can children benefit from their teenage years?
ONE of the happiest moments for parents is when their children get baptized. Berenice’s four children all got baptized before they were 14 years old. She says: “It was a highly emotional experience for us. We were, of course, grateful that our children wanted to serve Jehovah. But we also knew that as teenagers our children would face many challenges.” You too may worry about this if your son or daughter is a teenager or will soon be a teenager.
2 An expert on child psychology says that the teenage years can be difficult for both parents and children, but parents should not think that their teenagers are crazy or childish. Instead, he says that teenagers are creative, have deep emotions, and have a need to spend time with friends. So while they are teenagers, your children can develop a closer friendship with Jehovah, as Jesus did when he was young. (Read Luke 2:52.) They can also improve their abilities in preaching and develop a strong desire to do more in God’s service. And they can make their own decisions, such as to dedicate their life to Jehovah and obey him. But what can you do as a parent to train your teenager to serve Jehovah? You can learn from the way Jesus trained his disciples with love, humility, and insight.
LOVE YOUR TEENAGER
3. How did the apostles know that Jesus was their friend?
3 Jesus was more than just the Master of his apostles. He was also their friend. (Read John 15:15.) In Bible times, a master would not usually talk with his slaves about his thoughts and feelings. But Jesus did not treat his apostles like slaves. He loved them and spent time with them. He was happy to tell them what he was thinking and feeling, and he listened carefully when they expressed what they were thinking and feeling. (Mark 6:30-32) This communication between Jesus and his apostles made them very close friends and prepared the apostles for the work they would do in the future.
4. Parents, how can you be friends with your children? (See opening picture.)
4 Although you have authority over your children, you can also be their friend. Friends spend time together. Perhaps you can spend less time working or doing other things so that you have more time with your children. This is something you should pray and think about seriously. Friends also enjoy similar things. So find out what your teenager likes, such as his favorite music, movies, or sports. Then try to enjoy what he enjoys. Ilaria, who lives in Italy, says: “My parents took an interest in the music I listened to. In fact, my dad became my best friend, and I felt free to talk to him about even delicate matters.” By being your children’s friend and helping them to be Jehovah’s friends, you do not lose your authority as a parent. (Psalm 25:14) Your children will see that you love them and respect them, and it will be easier for them to talk to you about anything.
5. How could Jesus’ disciples have a happy life doing Jehovah’s work?
5 Jesus knew that if his disciples were enthusiastic about serving Jehovah and kept busy preaching the good news, they would be truly happy. So he encouraged them to work hard in the preaching work, and he promised that he would help them.
6, 7. How do you show love for your children when you teach them to have a regular routine of serving Jehovah?
6 You want your children to stay close to Jehovah. And Jehovah wants you to train and discipline them. He has given you the authority to do that. (Ephesians 6:4) So you need to make sure that your children get that training regularly. Think about this: You make sure that your children attend school because you know that their education is important and you want them to enjoy learning new things. In a similar way, you make sure that they attend meetings, assemblies, and family worship. After all, the education they get from Jehovah can save their lives. So help them to enjoy learning about Jehovah and to realize that he can teach them to be truly wise. (Proverbs 24:14) Also, train your children to go out in field service regularly. Imitate Jesus’ example by helping them to enjoy teaching God’s Word to others.
7 How does a regular routine of serving Jehovah, such as study, meetings, and field service, help teenagers? Erin, who lives in South Africa, says: “We children often whined and complained about Bible study, meetings, and field service. Sometimes we deliberately disrupted our family study to try to get out of it. But our parents didn’t give in.” She is grateful to her parents because they helped her realize how important these things are. Now, whenever she has to miss a meeting or cannot go out in field service, she is eager to get back to her routine as quickly as possible.
8. (a) How did Jesus show that he was humble? (b) How did Jesus’ humility help his disciples?
8 Although Jesus was perfect, he was humble and told his disciples that he needed Jehovah’s help. (Read John 5:19.) Did this make the disciples respect Jesus less? No. The more they saw that he relied on Jehovah, the more they trusted him. Later, they imitated his example of humility.
When you admit your mistakes, your children will respect you
9. When you admit your mistakes and say that you are sorry, how can this help your teenager?
9 Unlike Jesus, we are imperfect and make mistakes. So be humble. Realize that there are many things you cannot do, and admit your mistakes. (1 John 1:8) Then your teenager will learn to admit his own mistakes, and he will respect you even more. After all, whom do you respect more? A boss who admits when he is wrong or one who never says he is sorry? Rosemary, who has three children, says that she and her husband were willing to admit their mistakes. She explains: “That moved our children to open up to us when they had a problem.” She adds: “We taught our children where to find the best solutions to their problems. When they needed help, we always referred them to our Bible-based literature, and we prayed together.”
10. How was Jesus humble even when he was telling his disciples what to do?
10 Jesus had the authority to tell his disciples what to do. But because he was humble, he often explained why they should do it. For example, he did not just tell them to seek first the Kingdom and God’s righteousness. He also said: “And all these other things will be added to you.” When Jesus told them to stop judging, he explained: “That you may not be judged; for with the judgment you are judging, you will be judged.”
11. How can you help your teenager by explaining why you have made a rule or a decision?
11 Find the right time to explain to your teenager why you have made a rule or a decision. When he understands why, he will likely want to obey you. Barry, who raised four children, says: “Giving reasons helps teenagers to trust you.” Teenagers will see that you have not made a rule or a decision just because you have the authority to do so but because you have a good reason. Also remember that teenagers are no longer small children. They are learning how to think for themselves, and they want to make their own decisions. (Romans 12:1) Barry explains: “Teenagers need to learn to make sensible decisions based on reason rather than emotion.” (Psalm 119:34) So be humble and explain to your teenager why you have made a decision. In that way, he learns to make his own decisions, and he will know that you respect him and that you realize that he is becoming an adult.
12. Because Jesus had insight, how did he help Peter?
12 Jesus had insight and understood what help his disciples needed. For example, when Jesus told his disciples that he would be killed, Peter told Jesus to be kind to himself. Jesus knew that Peter loved him, but he also knew that the way Peter reasoned was wrong. How did Jesus help him and the other disciples? First, he corrected Peter. Then, Jesus explained what would happen to those who avoid doing Jehovah’s will when it is difficult to do. Jesus also said that Jehovah would reward those who are not selfish. (Matthew 16:21-27) Peter learned the lesson.
13, 14. (a) What might show that your teenager needs to strengthen his faith? (b) How can you find out what help your son or daughter really needs?
13 Pray to Jehovah for insight so that you can understand what help your teenager needs. (Psalm 32:8) Perhaps you see that he is not as happy as he used to be or that he talks negatively about the brothers. Maybe you feel that there is something he is not telling you. Do not immediately think that your teenager is secretly doing something very wrong. * (See footnote.) But do not ignore the problem or just hope that it will go away. It could be that you need to help him strengthen his faith.
14 To find out how you can help your teenager, ask questions kindly and respectfully. It is like drawing water out of a well. If you draw it out too quickly, you will not get as much water as you want. In a similar way, if you are impatient when you ask questions or try to force your teenager to talk, you will not find out what he really thinks and feels. (Read Proverbs 20:5.) Ilaria remembers that when she was a teenager, she wanted to spend more time with her classmates but knew that it was wrong. Her parents noticed that she was worried about something. Ilaria says: “One evening, they simply mentioned that they had noticed that I was a bit down, and they asked me what the problem was. I burst into tears, explained the situation, and asked for help. They hugged me, told me that they understood, and promised to help me.” Ilaria’s parents immediately began to help her make good friends in the congregation.
Look for your teenager’s good qualities and commend him
15. What is another way that Jesus showed he had insight?
15 Jesus also had insight when he noticed the good qualities of his disciples. For example, when Nathanael heard that Jesus was from Nazareth, he said: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46) If you were there, would you have thought that Nathanael was negative or prejudiced or that he did not have faith? That is not what Jesus thought. Instead, he had insight and knew that Nathanael was honest, so he said: “Truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” (John 1:47) Jesus could read hearts, and he used that ability to look for people’s good qualities.
16. How can you encourage your teenager to improve?
16 Although you cannot read hearts like Jesus, you can have insight. Jehovah can help you to look for your teenager’s good qualities. Even if your teenager disappoints you, never say that he is a bad person or a troublemaker. Do not even think that about him. Instead, tell him that you can see his good qualities and that you are sure he wants to do what is right. Notice what he does to improve and commend him. Help him to work on his good qualities by giving him more responsibilities when possible. Jesus did that with his disciples. A year and a half after meeting Nathanael (also called Bartholomew), Jesus gave him an important responsibility. He made Nathanael an apostle, and Nathanael faithfully did the work Jesus gave him. (Luke 6:13, 14; Acts 1:13, 14) So instead of making your teenager feel that what he does is never good enough, commend and encourage him. Make him feel that he can make you and Jehovah happy and that he can use his abilities to serve Jehovah.
TRAINING YOUR CHILDREN WILL BRING YOU GREAT JOY
17, 18. If you keep training your teenager to serve Jehovah, what can be the result?
17 You may feel as the apostle Paul did. He worried a lot about those who were like children to him. These were the ones he had helped to learn about Jehovah, and he loved them very much. So it was painful for him to think that some of them might not continue serving Jehovah. (1 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 2:4) Victor, who raised three children, says: “The teenage years were not easy. Yet, the good times outweighed the challenges we faced. With Jehovah’s help, we enjoyed a close friendship with our children.”
18 Parents, you work so hard to train your children because you love them very much. Do not give up. Just think of how much joy you will have when your children make the decision to serve God and continue serving him faithfully.
^ par. 13 Parents may find it helpful to read Questions Young People Ask