The roller coaster ride of raising teens

roller coaster 2Teens naturally push away from their parents. Teens naturally know how to push buttons. They are good at bringing up issues that knowingly or unknowingly spark fire in us. They are sweet and thoughtful in some moments, and harsh in others. They don’t always understand timing or tone. They can even get us to question why we do something or why what they say to us hurts.

We live in a on line social world where many have “published perfect kids” or at least they want us to believe it. But the more I talk to parents, the more I see them all struggling with relatively the same issues. So let me be frank since this is “unmasked” and we are trying to be real with folks. We need to be supportive of one another as we raise kids. Stop the pretending you have it all together.

Setting aside postpartum depression and anxiety, newborns are relatively simple. They need clothing, holding, feeding, changing, bathing. It’s an incredible amount of work, but we settle into a little groove pretty quickly. They smile, have new developments and breath. We squeeze their chubby thighs, feed them, wipe their little bottoms and they sleep. Babies don’t go for the jugular.

Then teen years come. They know how to touch your deepest insecurity as a parent, and a personality trait I’m ashamed of. I can easily think, I pay for your cell phone. I put that food in your mouth! You’re playing sports cause I’m paying for it!  It continues, you are in a great mood, they are not. They defend themselves with their last breath and roll their eyes while you talk and talk. You pause and ask yourself, did I screw up? Then there are moments of bliss, when you read the card or note they left you, say the nicest thing and give a long hung and it makes you think, OK, I got this!

Before you know it, you realize you are letting go and they are looking to soar. At least that is how is it suppose to go. The roller coaster ride doesn’t end, it just changes. For Christian parents, the ultimate goal is to lay a foundation in their children’s young impressionable years, so they will always desire to fully seek God and bring Him glory.  I encourage you, when you are on the ride, don’t forget the big picture. You can get lost in the little battles, often, by picking the wrong battles. If you are rearing children to commit their lives to Christ, are you living that way? Remember, often they don’t listen, they catch what you do.


  • Be more intentional with your time
  • Build daily bridges not barriers
  • On some issues, stand your ground, others, give them the benefit of the doubt
  • Stop parenting like you were perfect and stop parenting like you weren’t
  • Stop manipulating. Instead lead and be proactive
  • Help navigate the social media life and online world
  • Continually teach discernment over drama
  • Pick your battles carefully
  • Foster your relationship with them
  • Model boundaries
  • Help them learn their love language
  • Forgive one another
  • Teach them own mistakes and be responsible
  • Learn from each other

Enjoy the ride, it really is exhilarating!

David is a father, husband, business owner, and ministry leader. He is Founder and Director of a Hope 2 Offer, an Iowa non-profit and The Orange Planet, a central Iowa based basketball instruction company started in 2008.

As always, thanks for reading Unmasked.

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