20 Tips I wish I could have given parents of teens before their kids were 4 by Ron Powell


I’ve never had the chance to share with parents of young children until this weekend but I’ve wanted to for the past 30 years! Why? Because often the difficulties that parents are having with their teens could be less difficult if a proper foundation for the relationship was established in the early years…Here are 20 things I always wanted to share with parents…

First let me point out the Results of Early Parenting Problems

The Bible cautions us in  Hosea 8:7 “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” This can be so true of parenting. We are seeing the results in society of kids gone off track. This isn’t completely the fault of the parents but we are partly to blame. This many be the result of unintentional mistakes or not wanting to deal with some stuff. It could be because we haven’t set or stuck to the right goals when we know that if we “Aim for nothing and you will hit it every time”

I think James Dobson is right when he cautions, “By the time a child is two they have determined who rules the house –James Dobson (Parenting isn’t for Cowards) I also agree with Chap Clark’s research on teens that found that “We are seeing the results of systematic abandonment by adults resulting in the almost universal experience of Hurt”  –Chap Clark – Hurt

Years ago David Elkind predicted this. Even then he was able to realize: “Today, adults have fewer standards, values and beliefs and hold on to them less firmly than was true in the past.  The adolescent must therefore struggle to find an identity without the benefit of this supportive adult envelope.” (The Hurried Child)

More recently Dr. Suniya Luthar and her team found that : “Adolescents reared in suburban homes with an average family income of $120,000 report higher rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse than any other socioeconomic group of young Americans today.”

What did we do wrong?! How could parents do better… here are 20 tips


  1. Pray, Pray, Pray –For and with your spouse, your child –it puts your fears in perspective and God wants to answer these kinds of prayers
  1. Family Accountability – Get Mentored disclose Secrets. People need to know the truth about how you treat your children and your spouse. Be humble enough to repent of errors and weakness
  1. Sacrifice Me Time for Family Time –Fully Devoted to God and your family –serve with your family –help children see that the world does not revolve around them
  1. Social Credit Get and maintain loving respect. It is the gold standard for families. Make expressing and expecting the Fruit of the Spirit the standard – Love Joy Peace Patience Kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
  1. Recognize and defend The Hill to die upon. You must win. Your authority is final. Many things are non-negotiable. Never threaten –always follow through with consequences that you set. Both parents must agree and be consistent with rewards and consequences.
  1. Set High Expectation and Provide High Support -3 Parentng Styles one is Best –Permissive, Authoritarian, and the greatest of these is Authoritative –Loving Firm high expectations showing affection. Child feels respected and loved.


  1. Correct attitudes before they become behaviours – Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.’ Emerson/ Covey
  1. Disciple in all things –Use the Bible to Interpret the World –model humble devotion –do your actions betray your words? –can they see that you are fully devoted to God and your family? Or is your time and attention invested somewhere else?
  1. Patiently Discipline in Love not Anger –reasonable force when reasoning is futile – Never crush their spirit or break trust. Always practice unconditional love –don’t make them earn it.
  1. Open Lines of Communication Talk about everything including sex, relationships, fears, feelings, crushes, hopes, dreams, wishes,
  1. Limit Screen Time Maximize Face to Face Time –have fun –build memories that last –keep building as they get older –make family time your highest priority –family time does not always mean indulging your kids.
  1. Allow natural and planned consequences –it is necessary to allow your children to suffer consequences –do not shield them from everything – do not excuse them if they have done wrong –they must learn at the youngest age possible to take responsibility for their actions. Stick to the consequences that you have agreed upon.
  1. Understand the power of the Use it or Lose it Principle: children have huge potential but what they do constantly is hard wired in their brains. (Practice makes Permanent.) Constant screen time builds some skills but they are very limited compared to learning a sport, an instrument, or skills like reading, writing, drawing, knitting, painting, or gardening.
  1. Because I said so is never the right response –Loving Explanation should be given at the level that they can understand. As verbal skills increase so should levels of explanation.
  1. Seek first to understand then to be understood –It takes time for children to express themselves –spend lots of time listening to them –especially the ones who have difficulty expressing themselves. Communication is a gift for life!
  1. Get ahead of the strong willed child. Not every child is parented the exact same way. Some require firmer stance. They require a more thoughtful response and higher expectations. Stay in charge but do not break their drive.


  1. With great privilege comes great responsibility – Learning the Value of things. God has given us so much. Giving thanks always is only part of the response –demonstrating a generous life style and expecting it of our children creates better teens and adults.
  1. Teach them to “paddle their own canoe.” You should never do for a child what they can do for themselves (this builds efficacy) Helping a child to gain a sense of competence gives them confidence to go out the door. Efficacy is when a child recognizes I can do this. It improves their self-esteem without building false confidence.
  1. Why Chores make responsible adults. Erikson Autonomy vs. shame and doubt Initiative vs. guilt Industry vs. inferiority –
  1. Move from dependence, to independence, to interdependence. The goal of parenting is to prepare them to launch –build in the skills at appropriate ages so that they become self- sufficient teens

Of course these tips won’t guarantee that you will never have problems in the teen years or that your child will be a perfect angel. I do think that these may solve you a lot of grief if you apply them consistently and persist in them until your child becomes adult.


James Dobson  Hide or Seek : Building Self Esteem in your Child,               Parenting Isn’t for Cowards –the Strong Willed Child,     Preparing for Adolescence

Madeline Levine –the Price of Privilege –Disconnected and Unhappy Kids

Chap Clark Hurt and Hurt 2.0

David Elkind  -The Hurried Child

Kindlon, D. (2001). Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children in an Indulgent Age. New York, N.Y.: Hyperion.

Levine, M. (2006). The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids. New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins.

Twenge, J.M. (2006). Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before. New York, N.Y.: Free Press.

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