“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
How do you influence and love a teen when they are hard to love? Teenagers often think and react in ways that make them difficult to love. For example:
- They expect to be a priority in your life, but also want their space from you.
- They want you to believe in them, but can get angry when you try to give them advice.
- They want you to trust them, but often lie about what they think and feel.
If we think back to our own teenage years, we can probably remember feeling all of these things ourselves and chances are we made life difficult for our own parents on more than one occasion. It is easy, though, to get hurt and angry when our teens act out in selfish ways, especially when we care deeply about helping them navigate this challenging time in life.
When we’re feeling this way, we have to remember three things:
1. You gotta have friends!
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
1 Corinthians 10:13
Middle school and high school are challenging for almost everyone, and no teen or parent needs to go through it alone. The Y-ministry at the BACC is a community of families and mentors who help each other to help their teenagers grow into who they are meant to be. I’ve been a mentor in the Y-ministry for the last two years and I have seen so many families find it an invaluable source of relief, support, inspiration and faith.
If parenting your teen feels too hard, you are probably trying to do it alone, without the friendships and support you need.
2. Don’t give up
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
Having worked with teenagers for the last 2 years, there have been many times that I’ve wanted to give up on caring for a teen. However, I’ve also seen that giving up on a teen who is in need of love can have destructive consequences. If we do not help a teen to find God’s love, they will head down a road that leads to harmful situations – sensuality, drugs or alcohol, eating disorders, and physically harming themselves.
3. God can teach us to love
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
God has unfailing love and is constantly good to us. We do not deserve his love, especially when we disobey and turn our backs on Him. We do things that make God sad or angry, but he does not stop loving us or providing for our needs. Remembering this can help us be more motivated to love our teenagers.
When we decide to love a teen that is lashing out in anger or withdrawing from us, we have the ability to teach them how to unconditionally love others, persevere, and be selfless. To achieve this kind of love we must have a strong relationship with God ourselves and be spending time with him daily.
So whether you are a parent, mentor or friend – do not give up! If you continue to love a teenager even when it is difficult, you will teach them God’s love and make an incredible difference in their lives.