How to Ruin Your Teen's Life


We designed a Sunday morning class at Johnson Ferry to deal with the specific needs of the parents of high school students. Aptly named "LAUNCH," our desire is to provide parents with the biblical insights and tools to disciple and prepare their teens for life after high school.

The class is currently working through a classic parenting book by Jay Kesler called "Ten Mistakes Parents Make with Teenagers (and How to Avoid Them)." It addresses many of the issues that parents have a tendency to handle poorly with their kids. It has been challenging for many of our parents.

I ran across a great list on Family Life's website that offers some similar (though different) insights. If you are currently in the middle of these challenging years, it would serve you well to consider the list. Here's what author Tricia Goyer had to say...

How to Ruin Your Teens for Life

Eleven ways to ensure that your teenager will not be prepared for the future.

1. Hide your past mistakes. Put on an act that you are perfect and your teenagers are the ones with all the problems. (After all, if your teens hear what you did in your past, they might want to follow.)

2. Don’t worry about where they are going and what they are doing. You didn’t want to be hounded at that age. You didn’t want to be asked all those questions. Instead, trust that they know how they should act and where they should go.

3. Don’t worry about them getting a summer job and having to work to make money. Teens are only teens once. They need time to have fun with friends and relax. There will be time to work later. They don’t need to worry about a work ethic now.

4. Don’t force them to attend church and youth group. Things are already touchy—you have to hound them about homework, about their friends, and about their clothes—don’t make church another thing you hound them about.

5. Don’t worry about talking to them about sex and purity. You’re their parent, for goodness sake. You don’t want to bring the subject up and have them thinking about you having sex. And you don’t want to think about them in their sexual lives. There are other people more knowledgeable and trained to talk to your teens; leave it to them.

6.  Completely shelter your teens from the outside world.  Make sure they don't watch any secular movies or to any secular music.  Hide the newspapers, too.  Their "world" should only be about your family's values.  They don't need to learn about all that bad stuff out there.  They don't need to make wise media choices or deal with unwholesome people.  They don't need to see that there's a world out there that is greatly in need of Jesus.  Let someone else deal with impacting and influencing culture.*

7. Tell them, “Do what I say, not what I do.” Make them accept the areas where you fall short, but expect them to do better.

8. Buy your teens whatever they ask for. That’s your role as a parent—to make your teens happy.

9. Don’t let your teen get involved in an overseas mission trip. There are all types of scary things that happen on those trips, and your first priority is to keep your teen safe.

10. Don’t become your teens’ sounding board. They’ll need to learn to figure things out on their own in the future, so they might as well start now.

11. Don’t share with your teen how important God is in your life. A personal relationship with God is personal, and it should stay that way.