Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life

Red Hair, Tattoos, and Positive Relationships with Teens

18 Comments

DSCN8323Last year I helped both of my kids dye their hair red. My mom said I was crazy, and I myself wondered if I’d gone stark, raving mad, but I figured helping them was better than dealing with red dye all over the bathroom. In the end my son had a red top, my daughter had a red lock, and I had a red spot on my nose.

The teen years present new joys and challenges to parents. My husband and I love interacting with our kids and watching them develop. The challenge comes from their desire for more independence and our doubts over how much freedom they’re mature enough to handle. Every day brings new questions. “Mom, can I get a nose piercing?” “Can I order a beer?”  And then I have questions myself: “Should I still be enforcing bed time for my kids?”

Scripture provides common-sense advice: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4, NIV)

This reminds me to major on the majors, like being a good role model and passing on the values of faith, love for others, and hard work. Other issues like what time our teens go to bed or the fact that they want to wear a red checkered hat to church are less important.

Let Go of the Need to Be in Control

I’m the first to confess that part of the difficulty of the teenage years lies in my own reluctance to relinquish control. Sometimes our conflicts are about my wanting things my way. Just because I’m the mother. When I let go of this tendency, my relationship with my kids improves.

Choose Your Battles Wisely

My husband and I decided that an earring for my son is okay.  Why argue over a little thing like that? But a tattoo? I’m sorry. We’re just not going there. In our family a tattoo is taboo until you’re 50.  This means I can get one this year if I want, but my kids can’t…(There I go again, exercising control!) But really, even a tattoo pales in significance compared to responsibility, respect, and diligence.

Allow for Guided, Growing Independence

It’s scary, but sometimes I allow my kids to make their own decisions. I call my son and say, “What time were you thinking of coming back home this evening?” I suggest that my daughter might spend more time studying for a test, but I don’t push her. I let her know she’s the one who will get the grade.

Encourage

Do you ever stop to evaluate whether you give your kids more negative input (Don’t leave the fridge door open) or more positive input (You did a great job on this project)? I tend to harp on the negatives, but I want to encourage my kids and cheer them on towards higher ground.  Encouragement motivates anyone and feeds healthy self-esteem.

I want to foster a positive growing relationship with my teens as they transition into adulthood, but I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know what I’m doing, so I hang on to Paul’s advice about not exasperating our children.

Do any of you out there have teenagers? How do you handle your relationship?

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Author: betsydecruz

I want to enjoy the everyday life God is giving me as best I can, even when the road gets bumpy. I love having fun with my teenagers, learning almost anything, and drinking dark roast coffee with my friends.

18 thoughts on “Red Hair, Tattoos, and Positive Relationships with Teens

  1. One piece of advice that a mentor gave me was to “Speak Grace and Live Truth” with our soon to be adult children. It’s not a “rule”, but a general guideline. 🙂 We have soooo much Truth we want to impart to our kids….quick before they are grown and gone! And of course it’s good to keep finding ways to expose them to Truth and teach them the Truth about everything from finances to friendships to faith. But this principle reminds me that at this age, it’s often better to say less. Live out the Truth in my own life, but let my words be filled with GRACE!

    • This is really good advice, Jenny. Your mentor is a keeper. I remember something to the effect of “Lecture less. Ask more questions” in the book Sticky Faith. I want to go back now and find it again. I also think that our actions speak louder than words. But it’s hard for me sometimes to say less!

  2. This can be SUCH a tough issue. Because we have so many teens so close in age, but varying widely in terms of maturity, I struggle a LOT with this. Sadly, it often seems that the ones who most want to exert control over their own lives are the ones who show the poorest ability to make good decisions and who are least willing to accept counsel.

    • Bless your heart, LaNette. You must have a fine line to walk with so many teens in the house. My guess is that you’re doing a much better job than you think! Hang in there and keep up the good work.

  3. First, I love the picture of your beautiful family, Betsy! I enjoyed reading this post immensely, as I have two teens also. My daughter asked to dip-dye her hair red last summer. Just the bottom half, which was very weird. The only reason I would have had to say no was to control her, so I said yes. I feel exactly like you about the control thing. I know being a good mother is about leading them in the right direction so they will grow to be independent and responsible adults, not controlling their every action (although I’d like to). Sometimes I am very disappointed in the poor decisions my son makes, but he learns more from them than he ever would from my nagging and controlling.

    • Yes, those are some wise words, Deborah. It takes more wisdom than I sometimes have to know when to let go of control and when to persevere in insisting on the right thing. Parenting is a work of grace.

  4. Betsy, thank you for your words of wisdom. Parenting is hard. Parenting teens is even harder. Mine are adults now. And how I wish I had lived with this wisdom day in and day out during those turbulent years. But, praise God, my kids love the Lord in spite of all my selfishness during their years at home, they love the Lord. There is no greater joy! Thank you for encouraging all of us to be godly parents! (Even though mine are grown…they’re still my precious kids. And while my responsibility to them has changed, I still want to be a godly example and encourage them in their walk with the Lord.)

  5. I have a 14 year-old-daughter who happens to have blue and purple hair at the moment. I know some other Christians gasp at the thought, but it’s only hair, and she really is a good kid. As for tattoos and facial and body piercings- that’ll have to wait until she’s an adult because that’s where I draw the line. We homeschool, and she has a lot of freedom there. She learns what she wants to learn, but she likes order, so she asks me to write what has to be done throughout the week, and she works on it whenever she wants to. Our method of homeschooling is actually self-directed learning (unschooling), so all of my kids do have a lot of freedom, but with that comes responsibilities, too.

    • Yes, we all draw the line somewhere! I like your perspective: “It’s only hair!” I’m curious about unschooling and how that works in high school, will check your blog and see if you’ve written on that.

      • I have. Being that she really likes order, her style of learning is more planned than my other kids. The key is to let her learn what she wants to and how she wants to.

  6. Reblogged this on My Sacred Mess and commented:
    I don’t have teens yet but am a Therapist and a parent….. You are right on! I love ths!

  7. I have 3 small children but I am a Family Therapist. You are right on! Pick your battles and lead them in the ways of The Lord. Loved this post.

  8. This is great, Betsy! I’m right there with you! Other than “managing electronics,” we are definitely letting our teens take the reigns … And it-is-scary! I appreciate your encouragement to praise and not harp on the negatives. I need that reminder! Thankfully, my teens belong to the Lord! And as they move into adulthood, it is essential that I let them have freedom to move and groove so God can do His work in their lives — and they (and we) know it’s the Lord — not Mom and Dad.

    • Thanks Dianne! I definitely could use some help on “managing electronics!” Any hints? What do you do? May the Lord bless your teens as they move into adulthood.

      • We’ve been through several iterations of “management.” lol Currently, they have to turn them in at 9:00 p.m. And if they don’t, they lose the privilege for a day. If their grades dip below a certain level, they lose the privilege until the grade(s) are brought back up to what we think is acceptable. We’ve been “tougher” in the past — but trying to give them some freedom / responsibility in this area.

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