Not Too Late to Reach Your Teens
– Applying the Solutions (Part 2) –
Paul J. Bucknell

Part 4/5 of "Not Too Late to Reach your Teens (Applying the Solutions)" provides specific steps of love the parents can take to help their children know of their love.

Problems (Part 1): Family Problems | Solutions | Problem #1 | Problem #2 | Delinquency
Solutions (Part 2): Barriers | Let’s Solve it! | Confession | Steps of Love | New relationship

At this point, we need to quickly proceed into building the parent-child relationship. We need to instruct our child on what the new parent-child relationship will look like. We can think of confession, as the first step of love. Love is honest about our failures and so we confess, but there are many other aspects of love that we need to quickly put in place if they have been lacking.
(2) Make practical steps of love
A sure and constant love is the best means, perhaps the only means, to reach the heart of the hardened child. Remember, although we might have formerly thought that love showed itself in providing physical things to the child, this is not their only need. They need to feel loved and wanted. When that love is provided, then we have the basis upon which to build a good, strong relationship.
Great relationships are always built on love. Even though we as parents should have given this love to our children when they were infants, some of us were too busy or just caught up in having a quiet home to really care about our children. It is time we give that love to them, whether they are six, sixteen or thirty six.
Even though we love our children, our children also have their own flaws. This, in and of itself, makes things difficult. But all the means that we use to constrain our children will work against itself if it is not done on the basis of love. Bring back that love and start building a new way to relate to your child (without that anger, pride, etc.).
We will speak more on how to rebuild that relationship in just a moment, but we also need to think what it means to love an older, now obstinate, child. Right now, your child might not even want to talk to you, let alone share from his or her heart. Your child already has a network of friends that are unacceptable to you. Your child has a host of habits that you do not like. It seems like an impossible situation to rectify.
Let us look at these things from another point of view. We are not just loving our children to get our children to change. We are loving our children because we are reflecting God’s love to them. Love is now going to be a way of life for us. It will take a lot of work. We will have to make sacrifices. Jesus’ second great command was to love others as you would want to be loved. Or in other words, do for others what you would want others to do for you. Or again, treat others in a way that you would like to be treated. You might need to go back to your childhood days to reflect on how a child thinks.
Are you ready for love, God’s love, to be the source of your love? This will completely change your life around. Mankind was designed to love others. We were made to reflect His love in our lives. We are not going to love our child  just to get him to do something. We are entering a new way of life, whether our child changes for the good or not. In the end, our hope is that our children will not miss or easily dismiss our love.
So how do we get this love? Fortunately, God has made it easy to get. If there was any charge or cost, He paid for it. He really wants us to get off to a good start. John says it in a most powerful yet terse way, “We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We do not gain love just by trying hard. I know many people think they can do this, but in the end, they eventually lower the standard of love or quickly forget about what they had committed themselves to. This is because we have an evil sin nature that will, again and again, combat any notions of genuine love and finally succeed and win.
We gain God’s love by first having our hearts opened to His love. When we see how He loves us, then we can in the same way love others. In a sense, it is just like the situation that we face with our obstinate child, except we are the obstinate child. God is our loving Father. In our hardness of heart we have resisted what He wants to do in our lives. We have done enough to be thrown out of the family. But through an act of love He enabled us to be restored to Him. He sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins. This sacrifice for wicked people like us clearly reveals God’s love for us. This step of love serves as a model of how we are to live out our lives, including to love the unlovely.
Paul summarizes love in a most powerful way.
“Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NASB.
So God’s love of having His Son die for us did two things for us. 1) It provided our own forgiveness of sin through which our relationship with God can be restored, and 2) It becomes the motivating force for us to love even when it is hard. Love is now our calling. When we are touched by His love, then we can also live in the spirit of that love.
The Steps of Love
Let’s think through some practical ways that we can start to show love to our children.  Let us take some words from 1 Corinthians 13 and apply them to our relationship with our children. We will focus on only three aspects. Remember, love affects all parts of our relationship with others including our speech, desires, attitudes and actions.
Love is patient. This means that we will listen to our children. We might disagree with them. We might think we know what they want or what they have said. But, nevertheless, we will be patient. When our child yells out, “You just don’t understand!” it will be a signal for us to slow down, put aside our anger, sit down and say, “You know, maybe I don’t really know what you are saying or why you are saying it. Could you carefully explain it to me? I would appreciate that.”
One of the problems parents have with their children is poor communication. By being patient, we can take the opportunity to really listen to the child. By listening, (maybe not agreeing), we can actually open a door of communication. If the child cannot express him or herself well, don’t get prideful that you are right. Give the child time and arrange another time to talk more about things. You might also suggest that the child write down his thoughts and feelings. One of our children communicates much better by pen. Often times, it is because of a lack of patience that we have poor communication.
Just do not be surprised if they express how upset they have been with you. This is good if they can express it. It shows they have identified some problem and that now trust you with it. It might hurt you to hear about your failures, but that is okay. We have hurt them! Sometimes things will to get worse before they get better.
Love is kind.  Let us apply this principle of kindness to our lips. That is, what we say will be kind. In order to better appreciate this, you might think how you would want people to speak to you in different situations.
The scripture says that we need to speak only what is truthful and kind. We will start right where we are. For example, many parents are really critical towards their children. They are critical without even thinking. It has become ‘natural’ to speak with spite. We want to do the opposite. We want to become those parents that are kind without thinking. I personally have had to struggle with this. I have come a long way, but at times am reminded that I still have a long way to go.
A kind word is one that is spoken gently with love. You say it in a nice way. There will be times when you need to rebuke your child. The words will be more demanding. But still they will be based on what is best for the child rather than what is convenient for you. For example, say your child comes back late. He promised to be home on time. When your child sees you, he has come to expect a storm to be unleashed. He cringes. But instead, you talk nicely to him as an adult. “Hey, I noticed you came in late. Was there a reason for this? I have been disappointed in the way this has happened the last few times. Why don’t we go out for some fries (to eat something) and talk about it? I need to understand what is happening more in your life. I want to hear what is going on in your life. I haven’t been listening too well lately.”
I am not suggesting that every time this happens that we take our child out for something nice to eat, but I am suggesting that we turn our conversations upside down. Some fathers are upset that their authority is challenged and their increasing resentment affects their conversations with their children. But we should not focus on our feelings but on what the Lord wants. The thing the child expected least is to be treated special. Yes, I recognize that they did something wrong and that they should face some consequences. But, on the other hand, has not God treated us graciously (better than we deserve)? Have we not spawned this whole thing by being poor examples to our children? As God has been gracious to us, so we are gracious to them.
Love does not seek its own. Selfishness is seeking what is best for myself at the expense of others. God did not seek His own and instead sent His only Son. We only love when we go out of our way to cheerfully serve our young people. We should not think of it as a ‘waste of time,’ but instead as an opportunity to reflect God’s love before our children. We need to regularly think about how to go out of our way to serve our children.
Right now, I am trying to plan a family trip, with my boys, to build a pathway along a river front for a retreat center. It is a place where we can work and play together. It will take 5-7 valuable days away from my work. It will require two 9 hour drives. I have thought about it in detail because I am reminded how much it will ‘cost’ me. It is okay, though (I convince myself by God’s Word), to spend special time with our children.
We need to cheerfully, not begrudgingly, give rides and help out our children. But it will mean even more than this. We will take special time during those drives to learn more about our children. We can actually talk with them. Actually, parents somehow feel talking to their children will require a lot of time, but this is not the case. They have their own friends. In any case, it is our privilege to spend special times with our children. God did put us together with our children for a long time.
The problem is that parents rarely engage their children in a “I care for you conversation.” We need to increase these times. We also need to be attentive to our child’s needs. When they come home from a meeting and look discouraged, ask them to sit down and tell you about the evening. If we ask as an interrogator, it will probably not produce any good results. But if you ask because you genuinely care for their lives, your care comes through, and they are much more willing to talk, even though you need to coax them a bit.
There are other ways of describing this love, but we are simply trying to think about what love means practically.  Love means to be patient – give a listening ear. Love means to be kind – treat people like kings and queens. Love means not to seek one’s own – devote special times to caring for your child. When parents begin to love their children in these ways and more, they sense they are on a divine mission (which they are). They also begin to awake a hope within their children that they might really be loved after all. The children, even after storing up much resentment and being rather private, begin to drop their guard from around their hearts.
Love opens people's hearts like sun does to flowers.When do flowers open? They open up when the warmth of  the sun touches its petals. And so it is with our children. When God’s love streams through our lives, people around us, including our children, begin to slowly open their hearts to receive this love. The sun does not announce it is coming. It just comes and the flowers know it is there by its light. And so, our children will know love is present when they sense the love of God streaming to their lives through us. Notice the touch of love seen in God’s people in the following verses.
 And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (Colossians 3:12-14).
Love softens the heart and brings hope. But because of all the built-up resentment and residue from our disappointing example as parents, we need  to be more than just kind. We need to seek forgiveness. Only confession in Christ’s Name can dissolve past walls of bitterness. Next =>

Problems (Part 1): Family Problems | Solutions | Problem #1 | Problem #2 | Delinquency

Solutions (Part 2): Barriers | Let’s Solve it! | Confession | Steps of Love | New relationship

Top of page | Email us | Previous | BFF Homepage | Family Index

Biblical Foundations for Freedom

Paul J. Bucknell

Please notice other BFF articles on the family below!
Parenting Seminar Parenting Perspectives Parenting Challenges
Principles & Practices of Biblical Parenting

Biblical Parenting Principles provides helpful teaching on forming a godly family. This series provides good reading material with handouts and diagrams. (Chinese)

#1 The Goals of Parenting (Spanish)
Understand the key role God's goals for the family have in shaping godly children.
#2 One Great Team: Dad & Mom
The responsibility, need and ability for husbands to work along with their wives as teammates in order to produce godly children.
#3 Parental Authority
Understand the parents' responsibility to govern their children and to properly put it in effect in the home.
#4 Developing Self-Control in our Children
The need and means of cultivating self-control in our children from an early age in order that they may please God and focus on serving others.
#5 Child Training & Routines
Enable parents to understand, use and create effective routines to further the training of toddlers and older children.
#6 Correcting Your Children
Properly deal with disobedient children so that they might become joyful family members.
#7 Discipline & Use of Rod
A scriptural perspective of discipline and ways to properly administer the rod.
#8 Setting Boundaries
Set up, implement and maintain proper and effective boundaries for our children.
#9 Raising Godly Children
Applying biblical principles to provide proper spiritual care for our children.
#10 Developing Intergenerational Love
Enable parents to show God's love and truth to their own parents and in-laws during visits with each other.
#11 Restoring Older Children

Even though we have made mistakes, we must not give up on our teens and older children. Lots of advice stemming from biblical principles are given to enable you to restore your children to your loving authority.

Check out our Famly Library for all our resources!

Harmony in Parenting – Discipline
The need and process of harmony among parents is well illustrated. Special focus is given on the area of discipline.

Fathers Learn Effective Leadership
Fathers, improve your leadership! Learn from God's example what to do when those under your authority do not obey.

Index: Godly Beginnings for the Family

Godly Beginnings for the Family series helps parents start right: filled with lots of practical advice for prebirth, birth and postbirth accompanied with reading, handouts and clear illustrations on early training. Check above for downloads.

Godly Beginnings for the Family

#1 Family Commitment
Making a commitment to raising godly children helps parents and children to withstand the influences of this evil generation.
#2 Family Foundations

Family Planning
   Husband-Wife Roles
Start right; end right! Shows how greatly our decisions and assumptions impact our parenting.
God's Family Health Plan
Once we start looking at the scriptures, we are astounded how much God speaks about our health. God really does care for us. We need only to obey.
#4 Preparations for Childbirth
Childbirth is a miracle. Now if we would only stop interfering with God's ways our births would be better and easier.
#5 Tender Newborn Care
Care for the mother and child afterbirth is important. Detailed suggestions as well as routines are provided for both Mom and baby.
#6 The Challenge of Child Training
Now that we have the child, how do we effectively train up a godly child? Start young!
#7 Disciplining and Training Small Children
Come discover how to properly use discipline in the training of your young children.
#8 Setting up Godly Routines for Young Children
Routines is our key to building training into a child's life. It works with one or ten children.

Discipling Children in Anger
Instructive charts on how one can stop correcting children in anger.

Setting Television Standards
Set standards on watching movies by reflecting on Indiana Jones and Psalm 36.

Priorities for Family and Life
This chart shows the overall perspective on life and how family fits into it.

Connecting Love with Discipline - Discover why love requires discipline -Hebrews 12.

Discipling your sons: The why and way
Should a father disciple his sons? How does he go about it?

Having a great marriage is the best start for being good parents. See our Marriage Navigator for more than 60 articles on marriage!

Is Birth Control Christian?
Shows how to understand Genesis 1:28 in our modern society.

Recovering Biblical Parenting
Ten differences between secular and biblical parenting are clearly outlined and discussed.

Can my son wearing earrings?
Clear teaching on how to set godly standards in a changing culture.

Decay in society
The decay in society is clearly outlined in a chart in three stages from Romans 1:18-32.

The Moral Slide of Sin
Filled with charts depicting the connection between cultural and personal decay.

Personal Impact
This chart from Galatians 6:7-8 reminds us of the personal impact of each family member on the whole.

Parents' Impact on their Children
This chart from Exodus 20:5-6 shows the tremendous influence parents have on their children and following generations.

Devastating Effects of Secular Parenting
The terrible effects of secular parenting practices are seen in the results.

Passing On a Love for God
See David's intense love for God and the people pass on to Solomon's life through the two appearances of God to him.

Need of Parental Love
The dynamics of love and its effect on our children.

Theology of the Family
A Biblical framework for the family shows how the family institution fits into God's overall plan.

Building Respect for Authority
Parenting has a great impact on children. Look how a gifted child can go wrong by spoiling them. Understand more on the importance of disciplining our children.