Practical Advice for Parents

1.  Do NOT allow your child to go to parties where alcohol may be present.  It is better to have your child accuse you of ruining their “social life” than to have a dead child.  Many of the parties that go on here in Troy, even the “service club” parties, are known to have alcohol present. I have had parents and teenagers tell me that alcohol is sometimes even provided by adults.  I have even had students tell me that some teachers/coaches have provided alcohol.  Don’t alllow your child to be in a situation where they may get drunk and make unwise choices.  Even if they don’t drink, they often get rides with students who have been drinking.  Even if they don’t ride with someone who is drunk, they still run a higher risk of being in an accident by just being in an area where so many people are drinking and will get behind the wheel.


2.  Check with your cell phone provider about parental controls for your child’s cell phone.  Text messaging is a huge issue with teens today.  Some of the messages would make you blush.  Another issue is sending inappropriate pictures over their cell phones.  Many wireless providers offer helpful tools for parents.  I have been told that some wireless companies provide the technology to send a copy of all text messages to parents.  If you cannot get these parental controls, you should randomly check your child’s text messages and pictures.  The only problem with that is that most teenagers are smart enough to delete their text messages quite frequently.

IMPORTANT: Always be up front with your child about these issues.  Don’t do it behind there back.



3.  Follow through with discipline.  Don’t pass down discipline that is unreasonable or that you are not willing to follow through with.


4.  Never allow your teenager and their boyfriend/girlfriend to be alone behind closed doors.       I do not care how much you think you can trust them. Hormones are often more powerful than their self-control.



  5.  Get an internet filter on all your computers.  

                                                                                                                             I recommend “safeeyes” ( ).  This filter allows parents to monitor web activity, instant messaging service (AIM, Yahoo Messenger, etc…), social networking sites (facebook/MySpace), set time limits, and get instant alerts if your child tries to access questionable content.  Another filter option can be found at .  These filters help protect your child from online predators and pornography.  Do NOT make the mistake that your child is somehow immune from these issues.

IMPORTANT: Always be up front with your child about these issues.  Don’t do it behind there back.

6.  The health of your marriage greatly impacts the health of your children.   I have noticed that teenagers whose parents have a healthy marriage are more likely to maintain a healthy realtionship with God as well as have healthy relationships with other people in their lives.   The way you and your spouse handle conflict is the way that they will learn to deal with conflict.  If you constantly criticize your spouse, they will constantly critisize others.  If you always have to have things your way, they will always have to have things their way.  If you always act like everything is your spouses fault, they will learn to always blame others.  If you want your child to have a great marriage one day or learn to have healthy relationships period, model what one looks like for them now. 

7.  Always assume the best in your children, but don’t be blind to the reality that they are not perfect.   Parents often error one of two ways.  Some parents are always looking for the negative in their children.  They are quick to jump on them when they mess up but remain strangely silent when they do good.  Often times it seems that these parents are more concerned about the way their children make them look than they are about their child.  Their desire for the perfect family and the perfect children somehow overshadow their resposibilities that they have to their children.  It is always about image management.  On the other hand, some parents never think their child does anything wrong.  It is always someone else’s fault.  It is the teacher’s fault.  It’s the other kid’s fault.  But not their child’s fault.  I have news for you.  Your child is not perfect.  You must find a balance between assuming the best in your child yet realizing that they will make mistakes.  They must know that you are on their side but that you will not always protect them from the consequences of their bad decisions.

  1. Good stuff. Very practical encouragement/instruction for any parent.

    One thing that I’ve noticed in Christian parents today is the tendency to be afraid that they might “overcrowd” their children or be “too involved.” But, when viewed from the teenager’s perspective, that is just the very opposite of what their children really desire. Good parents get invovled and stay involved. This means knowing what kind of movies their children are watching, what kind of music they are listening to, and what kind of relationships they are maintaining outside of the home–and giving guidance/setting expectations in all of them.

    Sure, there might be friction. But we shouldn’t avoid friction. Friction creates an ability for the parent to foster an environment of love, encouragement, and acceptance during these periods in which teenagers desperately need to learn to make decisions that honor God and family.

    Avoiding bumps in the road doesn’t make us good drivers. Avoiding bumps in the lives of our children most definitely doesn’t make us good parents.

    We have to get involved. Like my momma used to say, “Sometimes you’ve got to roll your sleeves up and use some elbo grease to get the dirt out!” Parenting a teenager is no different.

    • Sarah McKenzie
    • October 3rd, 2008

    I found all of these to be very practical and common sensical. The last one regarding believing in your child but knowing they are imperfect struck me the most.

    I struggle, especially with Katie(15yo) and her grades. She does not seem to desire to do well. I feel like she does not study enough and usually her grade are reflective of this bad habit but I have started to expect that she is going to make bad grades instead of believing in her. Maybe my negativity is rubbing off on her and causing her to not try since she expects to do badly also.

    We are still considering the small group. The move is really consuming us!

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