Regaining the Hearts of Your Teens
– Discovering the Root Problems (Part 1) –
Paul J. Bucknell

Part 2/5 of "Not Too Late to Reach your Teens" helps parents understand some of the problems they have with their older children including their teenagers are often rooted in their materialistic values that create decisions that in the long run hurt children because it does not make God's way the most important way.

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

The wrong way
Our greatest problem is that we have ungodly families with ungodly children. I know you might counter this by stating that you and your family go to church. But going to church does not necessarily give you God’s values. Sometimes it is because the church does not teach the Word of God. At other times, God’s Word is present, but we do not absorb the truth into our lives and we find no freedom. Remember that discipleship happens when the truth of God so penetrates our hearts and thoughts that our behavior and perspective are changed. Knowing what is good is insufficient.
I have lived quite a few years now and traveled and lived in many different cultures and spoken to many parents. I find that there is a parallel to what is happening in some developing countries to when I grew up in America. We all thought that a better life comes with cars, possessions, homes and wealth. We subconsciously thought that they would solve all of our problems. That is, we thought that our true problems were the lack of these things.
So, like many others, we sacrifice many things to gain these things. After all, they are key to having a good life, so we think. This mentality described America after WWII. In the 1950s, America became established and everybody grew wealthy. They thought everything was doing well when they had a good job and could get ahead every year. What surprised us all was what happened in the 1960s. This was when the young people went crazy. I was just talking to such a hippie. People thought he should be some pastor. He had these great offers. But he just rejected it all and joined the hippie crowd and the loose values with it.
Now I know many of your children will not end up this way. This is not my point. In fact, the real problem was that the children no longer respected what the parents were doing.  They didn’t like their way of life, their values and especially their church life. They saw everything as phony. But why? They got the short side of things. Their parents equated wealth with love, joy and peace. They were poor when they grew up. If one is poor, it is easy to think the solution being wealth. But their children felt left out. Now remember, most of these parents went to church even, but something became more important than God. This was the true problem. And for many today, it is the same problem we face today especially if you grow up in a materialistic world no matter which country you are from.
This problem has got so serious that even though a man has lost his wife and his children, he still thinks he is okay. A wife can think that though she is now divorced, and she hardly ever has time with her children, she is doing well. Wealth is a wretched deceiver. We are content to allow ourselves to think that our society is doing well just because our economic situation is fine.
What does God say?
So what does the Lord say is wrong with our situation? Let me read Jesus’ summary of the most important things of life.
    1. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ (Matthew 22:36-39, NASB).
From these verses, we can find a summary of what are the most important things in life. What are they? Yes, they are to love God and mankind. (By the way it is improper to switch the order.) I am sure you would not disagree with this verbally. Otherwise, you probably would not be listening to this message at all.
But this does not mean that you understand how this connects to our family situations. Remember, God’s diagnosis leads us to the right solutions. When we do well focusing on what God wants, then the difficulties that we have in life begin to work out. But when we do not seek what He seeks, then we face an increasing number of problems.
By seeking things other than God and His will, we have by-stepped a crucial aspect of life. By thinking that wealth and education are the most important things in life, we have committed blatant idolatry. God is not happy with this. He allows a host of problems to crop up as long as we do not follow Him. He is hoping that we will wake up one day and see that we really value other things other than Him. (Can you hear Him speaking to you now? Answer Him and tell Him that you are sorry and really want His will).
But I want to do something else here. I want to show you why seeking other things causes family problems. Some of you might not believe me that this is the key problem. It is the way that we have inadvertently trained our children. We have trained our children not so much through the schools that we send them to buy on how we live out our lives before them.
Correcting Our Vision
What we believe becomes what we focus on. It tells us what we need to emphasize or even what to hope for. If we believe that wealth and its sidekick education are most important, then we will focus on these things. Deep down this is what we think is best for our children. But it isn’t!
So let me get a bit personal. What do you want most for your children? For you, what defines success? What do you get most happy about with regards to your children? Do you want your child to get straight A’s? Do you want your child to be decent? Do you want your child to be successful in the world? We need to carefully think about what we like to hear about most because it is this that reveals our inner hearts and hopes.
Nothing is wrong with these things in themselves. Parents have lots of hopes for their children. Would we want to see them on the winning side or losing side? Would you rather see them healthy or sick? These hopes are not bad. The problem is that we have made certain things too important and left out those things which are most important.
Let me tackle this from another angle and perhaps you will see Jesus’ meaning of His commands a bit more clearly.
God's way of training the child.God created the family, that is, husband and wife and their children, to be a place to carefully train their children. God thought that this was very important and that it had to be done over a long stretch of time. Compared to the animal kingdom, humans raise their children for an extremely long time–more than 18 years. God purposely made it this way. Why?
God wanted these children to get the best treatment possible. Because they are born from the parents, the parents would give them the greatest care and training. No one else will care more for them than their own flesh. Isn’t it true that you have more concern for your children than others? This is okay because God wants us to have a great commitment to our children to give them what they need the most.
This process does work, but because man is so sinful  and selfish, what could be a tremendously great family more often than not becomes one that is just hanging on for life. The parents can’t wait for the children to leave home, and the children can’t wait to leave home. That is the way it was with me. I wanted to go to a far away college. There was too much distress at home to stay around there.
Unfortunately, we have accepted the notion that teens are necessarily rebellious. But this is not true. It is true in our society because we have generally made many similar mistakes. The same thing happens, by the way, when we call the toddler stage ‘The Terrible Twos.’  We tend to do the same thing as a our neighbor and end up with the same result. These things happen to those who do not rightly parent their children. Let me show you a chart. This chart generally describes what is to happen in a normal family.
What do you see here? The large amount of moral training happens by around 3 years old. From then on, the parent is like a teacher who explains why things are. They are to give a biblical account why they do certain things and why they do not do other things (love God, not smoke, no premarital sex, be honest, don’t cheat). The teenage years should be a time not of rebellion but of coaching. Instead, most parents have fighting matches with their teens. Home is like hell for many. The parents want out; the children want out. So teens go without their parents wise counsel and parents end up with children making foolish decisions.  But when there is proper training, the coaching period describes how the young adult consults back and forth with his or her parent about how to apply what they know to other parts of life.
Our vision is to train up godly children for His use. This is our chief goal. It derives directly from the summary of all commands, “To love God.” We will care for them. We will protect them. But it is imperative that we focus on the chief goal of loving God otherwise they will win the world but lose their soul. We want to cultivate a child that loves God. Then like David and Daniel they will pursue the Lord and find God’s blessing in their lives.  
Now we have enough understanding to explore the questions why our teens are so hard to get along with and how we can improve our relationship with them. 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

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

Paul J. Bucknell

Please notice the BFF articles on the family from from the chart below!

Parenting Seminar Parenting Perspectives Parenting Challenges

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.

Principles & Practices of Biblical Parenting

#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.

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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?

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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.