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Believe it or not, as a parent you have much more influence over your teen than anyone outside the home. You spend more time with them, you know them better, and ultimately you set the standards for how they have to live under your roof.

As a part of our Y-ministry I’ve met many mystified parents trying to understand their teenager’s puzzling behavior. Luckily, the Bible has powerful help for parents navigating the teenage years. Building on these spiritual principles helps teens to become open, secure and faithful. To get started, here are a few things scriptures teach that teenagers need to hear from their parents:

1. I won’t be shocked by anything you say.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 John 1:7

In the Bible, truth and light are always good. Being honest only produces good things. As teenagers are learning this about God, they need to hear it from their parents. I’ve never met a teen who wasn’t afraid to tell their parents the truth about their sins, thoughts, and mistakes. Like all of us, they are terrified of exposure and rejection (John 3:19). It’s really important as a parent to build a home where truth is more important than being perfect.

In conversations with your teen, make sure they know that they can be honest with you about anything. They may not open up right away, but they will remember when they are ready to talk.

2. I’m proud of you.

Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.

Proverbs 15:4

You may think it goes without saying that you are proud of your kid, but it doesn’t. Teenagers need to hear that you are proud of them for the good choices they make. The Bible teaches that kind words are what heal and help us, yet it’s easy to focus only on the things that are going wrong. In the midst of training and disciplining your teen, don’t forget to encourage the things they are doing right.

Take time to think about the reasons you are proud of your teenager and tell them something encouraging every day. Reassurance that you love them and are proud of them will help them not feel like they need to search for your approval in other unhealthy ways.

3. I have spiritual expectations for you.

But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15

Your teen might not like this one, but they do need to hear it. Teens need to know what your expectations are. When your expectations are not clear, they will always feel they are disappointing you. Also, having spiritual expectations means you value their heart, their faith, their morals, and their choices more than their performance, their grades, or their looks. Teens need to know this – it alleviates pressure and helps them learn to value the right things.

Have a family dinner this week where everyone gets to pick a scripture they want to work at living by. You can make this fun, creative and relaxed, but don’t be afraid to set the spiritual standard of your home.

4. I want your help, too.

Be careful of how you live and what you believe. Never give up. Then you will save yourself and those who hear you.

1 Timothy 4:16

The scriptures teach over and over again that one of the best ways we can help someone else is by setting an example. This scripture teaches us that we should watch how we live and what we believe; make sure they match, and never give up.  Then you will save yourself and those around you.

Set an example of humility for your teen. Let them help you with your spiritual life, and let them see you spending time with peers who help you too. This week, share with your teen one thing you are working on in your relationship with God. Your example will inspire and empower them to do the same.

Written by

Amy Query

Amy Query is an editor of BACC Inspire and avid reader. She studied psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and has over a decade of experience in mentoring, counseling and community organizing.