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OK, so I'm not the greatest parent, but there are a lot of simple principles about raising Teenagers that a lot of parents just do not know about, maybe because of their upbringing or whatever. I have 2 daughters, one a teenager and one about to become one. So maybe we can help each other..

Teenagers have a rough exterior and a very fragile interior. They want to appear tough and unfazed, but they often hurt real bad inside. So as parents, we need to make like we accept their independance, but at the same time we need to be aware that they need our encouragement and love. Try and hug them often, even if they don't want you to.

Look for the good points in your teenager and speak out about them. Encourage them. If they pack the dishes away well, tell them so. Don't lie, but tell them honestly when they have done well. The more you tell them , the more they will begin doing other things well.

Tell them often that you love them. Not the feeling of love, but that you've made a decision to love them and care for them no matter what, and that you'll always be there for them. This is not easy, but we must at least try.

Trust your kids. This is really a hard thing to do and I battle with it myself - but my Dad trusted me even when I was not trustworthy, and this made me want to be trustworthy. I wanted to do what was right to kind of "pay back" the trust he had put in me. It takes a lot of guts for a parent to do this. But it works. Trust your kids.

Practice tough love. Don't spoil the kids. Don't think that giving them money and possessions is the same as giving them love. Your kids won't fall for that one. Say no when something is bad for them. Warn them about what you accept and what you don't. Stick to your principles.

Don't criticize. Correct them, yes, but no criticism. Try to build your kids up. Try and encourage their good points so that they learn to have confidence in themselves. They won't be good at everything, but they can be very good at some things!! Be very vocal about what you approve of, and what they are good at. Build up their self esteem.

Don't compare them with others. Don't say "You are better/worse than Bob down the street" but rather just say "You are really good at swimming - I'm impressed!" - that kind of thing. Teach your kids to accept other people as they are, and not to think of themselves as better than anybody else - because we are all equal before God. He loves us all the same.

I'm including a section here on younger kids (for those who have them) because this could save you a lot of trouble with your teenager later!!

I've found over and over again that the Bible has the best advice when it comes to kids. Let God guide you in how to bring up your kids. This is vitally important if you have small kids, under 13 years old, because this is where you lay the foundation that makes the rest of their upbringing a lot easier.

Kids that age need to be disciplined, but with love. I used a plastic straw thingy that you get with balloons at a restaurant, which is about 4mm thick and about 35cm long to give them hidings with - it stings like hell but does no permanent damage. Always decide on the number of hits before you start - maximum should be about 4 for serious offences. And always reassure them afterwards that you still love them and that it was to teach them not to do things that will make their lives difficult in the future, like lying, cheating, stealing, fighting, etc.

Never hit them in anger - make sure you are self-controlled and know the exact reasons why you are giving them a hiding before you start - otherwise go and cool off for 30 minutes and then come and give them a hiding. Kids feel reassured if they know that you are in control - they will try to control you, but they don't want it to happen. As Dr James Dobson says in his book "Dare to Discipline" they are like a security guard who goes around a building trying to open the doors - but he really wants them to be locked! In the same way a kid will try to make you lose your cool - but he doesn't actually want it to happen. He wants to know where the border lines of authority lie.

And husbands: YOU must be the boss of the house, and control your kids, more so then the wife. If a hiding is necessary, it is better if the husband gives it, but if he's not around then the wife can do it. But even when you are giving a hiding, consciously remind yourself that you are doing it only to help your child to do what is right and because you love them, and use the minimum amount of punishment that you can. In other words, no violence, only loving discipline.

Please get yourself a copy of "Dare to Discipline" by Dr James Dobson - it's a very good guide. Other books by him about raising kids are "Hide or Seek, Self Esteem for the child" ISBN 0-340-28198-7 , "The strong willed child" ISBN 0-85476-404-6 and "Preparing for adolesence" ISBN 0 86065-167-3. All of them are very helpful and common sense books.


Meantime, Just love your teenager UNCONDITIONALLY - it'll keep your relationship going.