By the time our kids reach 16 and above I have this unrealistic expectation that they should be acting more like adults than kids. For the most part, I believe that if we treat our teens more mature, then they will act more mature.
It seems like the Mom job should just be smooth sailing from there on out…wrong! God is always stretching and growing us and I think if parenting were that easy, we might tend to get lax and think we do not need God to help us!
Last week I was sharing The Heart of a Discontent Teen and how I was going to pray about ways we could practically and purposefully work on helping our teens to be more content. Like I said before…it seems they should have already learned this and that they should be singing praises to God and have the most thankful hearts, but then…they are teens.
After much prayer we have come up with these 6 ways to continue to teach contentment to our teens. We have begun to talk about these things and start to implement, and we are already seeing a (small) turn of heart.
1. Find a way for your teen to serve others. Not for any reason other than to simply be a blessing to others. This could be anything! Babysitting, cleaning, yardwork, helping at a VBS…anything. No monetary pay allowed. Teens have opportunities to earn a buck, but this needs to be an act of service for God and others. Not for too long of a period of time, but for a time.
2. Spend more family time with your teen. I know… at first they may kind of balk at this…especially if they are super active and have lots of friends. However, I believe that a discontent heart can be a disconnect from the family. They can forget who they are and where they come from. God and family should reflect their values…not other families or friends.
3. Keep it real. This can be hard for teens if you live on a fairly low budget (us). Teens want what they want, when they want it. Have them get a real part time job. I offered my daughter to help me babysit one day a week. She spent her money in one day the first week, but then after that, she began to see the value of work and saving for something other than eating out with all of her friends so much. She has now been offered another babysitting job with twins. To my surprise she has accepted.
4. Along with service, I personally think it is very important for teens to connect somehow with the less fortunate. Whether they go on a mission trip, serve at a shelter or adopt a child from another country, they need to know that there is a bigger world and picture than just them.
5. Memorize scripture. Awww yes…and how will you get your teen to do this? I’m a bit sneaky but have done this for years. I have a central chalk board that I write scripture on. You can’t miss it. Pick scripture that reflects the heart of God about thankfulness, about God’s mercy, about his love for others. You can also scatter some scriptures around the house, like taped onto a mirror, on their pillow, by their gaming stuff – anywhere! Don’t go too crazy on this though or they will come to resent you rather than see it as a blessing.
6. One thing I can’t stress enough: be an example of a grateful content heart. We certainly cannot expect our teens to be content if we are constantly complaining about our lack of money, lack of material things, lack of anything. Lead by example!
Here are some Bible Verses you might use to teach contentment to your teens, and of course, we will grow too!
Print them out and put around the house. Let us know how things are going with your teens! We would love to pray and grow with you.