Parenting Teens and Being Successful? Part 3

This is the third post in the series. This post I am going to discuss the heart of a parent.  Check out the other posts in the series on the main page.

We all want to be successful, as parents we are many times lost as to what that means with teenagers. I am going to work through some biblical principles that will point us to success with parenting teens.


The heart of a parent wants “what’s best for our kids.”  What does that mean and how can we frame our hearts with God’s grace to address our children.  Our behaviors reveal heart issues: pain, guilt, and love.  We spend much of our time as a parent not dealing with the true issue, our heart.  We were children once and now are children of God.  Paul Tripp said something I think most of us can identify with,

I wish I could say that the only time I got angry was when one of them [children] broke God’s law! However, the truth is that often I wasn’t angry because they had sinned, but because their sin had gotten in my way. (JBC, On Parenting)

Can’t we all say at some point this was us?  Even as a parent of a 15 month old, I think about the times I am angry because she kept me from doing something I wanted to do.  I didn’t get my way.  How many of you use this against your teen?  I have seen that happen often.  But this post is not focused on the teen but the parent.  Better put,

The key to being used by God with your children is to start with your own heart.

So let’s start with our hearts.  What is in there?  How were you parented?  What events changed how you relate to your teen?  Imagine with me, your teen comes home and tells you that they destroyed something expensive.  At that point you can be angry and look at what they did. But…

My immediate problem at that point is not his sin.  The first problem is my idolatry.

Do I care more about the destroyed item or the fact that my teen was repentant about what he did?  Not that there shouldn’t be consequences for disobeying or destroying something but there should be a way of showing some grace when your teen repents.  Before you can do that though you have to look at your heart.  Paul Tripp said,

The first important thing I can do is search for idolatry in my own life.  Then, as I find it, I can confess it.  I can find Christ’s mercy.  I can forsake my own wrong.  And then I can clearly and lovingly begin to address my teens wrong (Matt. 7:1-5)…If parents do not deal with their personal idolatry first, then all the strategies for dealing with your teen will not help.

When you set unrealistic goals for your teen you end up enslaved to them they end up ruling your heart.  If they don’t meet the goal you have set how do you respond?  You can try as you might but if your heart is not addressed first, you cannot respond to your teen well.  We can try harder but that does not help either.  If our heart being dealt with is a fluid motion of who we are, then we are able to respond correctly in the moment.  It becomes our identity, if we are found in Christ.  A book I read once was titled “We Become What We Worship.”  If we worship sports our children will, if we worship possessions our children will, if we worship status our children will…you get the point.

Paul Tripp said,

God declares that worship isn’t an activity for human beings; worship is an identity.  We are worshipers; we can’t help but worship.  We are always in the service of one thing or another.  If I’m not serving God in the life of my teenager, then I’m serving other things. (JBC, On Parenting)

John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. 

We need to come to the realization that we are worshipers.  We live as parents worshiping, either God or something else.  If we are worshiping God through being a parent we are going to be true to His word.  If there are idols in our life they will be idols in our children.  We must speak truth to our children.  This might be a good time for some self examination.  What are you worshiping?  What do you want your children to worship? Where is your heart?  Are you serving God in the life of your teen? If not, what steps can you take to change that?

Kori or I would love to interact with you as you are wrestling through what God calls parents to be.  Comment below or email or

Next week I will be posting the fourth part of this series addressing “The Attitude of a Parent.”


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