What If Your Teen is Becoming Someone You Don’t Know or Like?

One day, your teen is a kind, engaged member of the family. The next, they’re disrespectful and rebellious. What happened? Your teen is not the same adorable infant you brought home from the hospital, the same cheerful kid you played with, and your teen will not be the same in the future. They will change. The question is: How should you respond? In this article, I’ll share what parents can do if their teen is turning into someone they don’t like.

Responding to a Teen’s New Lows

Many parents struggle to hold onto a relationship with their teen when the child they delighted in starts making poor choices. When your teen reaches new lows in disobedience, dishonesty, and disrespect, they need a responsible, loving adult to respond—not react. Remind yourself that your teen is morphing into an adult and the most important thing you can do is stay connected, or else you’ll lose your opportunity to influence the person they are becoming.

Find areas of common interest and build on that foundation. Offer the hope of a better relationship and the opportunity to work it out together by asking your teen: “What do you think we need do to have a relationship now and five years from now?” But, be prepared to hear from your teen what they don’t like about YOU!

When your teen is pushing all your buttons, as difficult as it may seem, it’s time to move closer. Set aside time to talk and let your teen know you’re struggling—without blaming him. Remain the mature parent, even when everything inside of you wants to yell, give up, and walk away. It’s called grace. Recognize that responding well to your teen in a moment of crisis can open up avenues of communication and strengthen your relationship in the long run.

Start with a “Truth and Consequences” Message

You can’t ignore inappropriate behavior, but things go much better if you don’t have a knee-jerk reaction. Reacting means you’re emotional, angry, hurt, judgmental, and often harsh with your teen. But responding to your teen means offering calmness, honesty, love, grace, and support. Offer your teen a “truth and consequences” message.

For example, tell your teen: “I will no longer stand by and watch you destroy yourself. We’re going to address what’s going on, get some help, and get through this together.” Make it clear that negative behavior will no longer be tolerated. Let your child know that if it doesn’t stop, he will not be able to live in your home. Perhaps the threat of losing the comfort of home will help your child to pay attention. And if you mention programs such as boot camp, boarding school, or Heartlight to your teen, then you must be able to follow through when your teen calls your bluff!

What If They Don’t Change?

Don’t expect your teens to like the fact that you are calling a halt on their behavior. In fact, things may get worse before they get better. You need to be in the relationship for the long haul. Stay calm and focused on what you want for your teen. Continue to communicate your love even when it’s difficult, because teens deeply fear rejection. Make sure your love isn’t attached to your teen’s behavior. Withholding love should never be an option. Be clear that it is out of love that you will enforce the rules and allow your teen to feel the consequences.

In Romans 5:8, the Bible reminds us that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” You know, most of us didn’t become mature, responsible adults over night. Change takes time. Commit to loving your son or daughter all the way through the process. Follow through and be consistent; otherwise, you will just add to the confusion and frustration. And remember, even if things feel hopeless, keep going. Doing nothing is not an option for a caring parent. Engage. Engage. Engage. Just like God does for us.


Hey moms and dads …  If you feel like your relationship with your teen has become distant, it’s likely a slow drift that began long before you realized it was happening. And if this is true, it’s going to take a little time and effort to get that drifter to come home. Let me encourage you to reflect on how you can make your home a place of rest and a haven of blessing, so that your teen will want to reengage and deepen their relationship with you. Hey, it won’t happen overnight. But in time, your efforts to correct the confusion they have felt will be seen as an olive branch toward healing a relationship that has a lifetime of value. Keep moving toward them, offering them a relationship, and giving them rest—just like your Heavenly Father constantly does with you.

Encouragement for Stepparents of Teens

Parenting teens is tough. And when stepparents are involved, the challenges are magnified. Step-parenting is one of the toughest roles an adult will ever step into. Currently, one out of three people in America are either a stepparent, a stepchild, or part of a blended family. And while every child and situation is different, healthy family relationships are still possible. In this article, I’ll identify the unique challenges stepparents face and offer ideas for building strong relationships with your teenaged stepchildren.

There Are Unique Challenges that Stepparents Face

In a perfect world, there would never be divorce or a need for a blended family. But we don’t live in perfect world. Teens especially feel the loss of the family they hoped for, or expected to have. Filling that void with a stepparent doesn’t make that loss go away. In fact, it can bring it to the surface and show through your teen’s behavior. Deep down, every kid wishes their birth parents were still together. So, even if a stepparent is a wonderful addition to the family, he or she might remind a teen of who’s missing. In fact, the better that stepparent is, the more painfully a teen might feel the loss!

Another unique challenge of blended families is that the kids often believe that having a good relationship with a stepparent, means they can’t have a relationship with their original parent. Accepting a stepparent feels like a rejection of their “real” parent. So, by rejecting you, your stepchild feels “loyal” to his original parent. You need to realize that you can’t fix this problem for your teen. It’s something he is going to have to work through.

Sadly some ex-spouses make it their aim to get back at their former partner. The added tension of a strained relationship with an ex-spouse makes conflict inevitable––especially if your teen splits his time between you and another parent. Values, rules, boundaries, and expectations may be different for the teen in a different house. And teens quickly learn how to take advantage and manipulate the situation to try and get what they want.

Ideas for Building a Strong Relationship with a Stepchild

If you believed stepping into a blended family would be easy, you’re simply not dealing in reality. No matter how wonderful the new marriage is, conflict is inevitable as these two families come together. You need to understand that conflict is part of your reality. And when it comes, don’t overreact! Typically your teen’s anger will flare up quickly and die down just as quickly. Overreacting to a teen’s bad attitude can push a teen into rebellion. Instead, enter into each conflict with a great amount of understanding and strength. Your calm, steady reaction will create much-needed stabilization. And part of getting to a better relationship, is walking through the storms together.

It’s important to spend time figuring out how this new family will work. What will your role be? Parents and stepparents can and should control the behavior of a child when he’s unable to control his own behavior. No amount of loss ever justifies a teen being disrespectful, disobedient, dishonest, hateful, evil, apathetic, or nasty to a stepparent. But you might need to be prepared for it anyway.As you create a new family, create an environment where disagreements and struggles are okay. You need to understand that there are going to be some problems you cannot fix, some problems that are not yours to solve, and some things that will never be resolved. So don’t expect or demand perfect behavior from your teen. Just like you, they won’t react perfectly all the time.

Encouragement for Stepparents

No one likes conflict, but you can choose to embrace the conflicts that arise and use these moments as opportunities to strengthen your bond. If you approach it correctly, the conflict can be the opportunity you need to draw closer. Remember in those moments when your teen is directing his anger and frustration at you, that it doesn’t mean that you are the problem. Your teen is going through a painful loss. Do not to take your teen’s behavior personally. If stepparents allow their teens to work through their loss, while requiring teens to accept responsibility for their feelings and behavior, a relationship will eventually develop. But it’s going to take a lot of time and patience.


Hey moms, dads, and those of you who are stepmoms and stepdads … the position that you find yourself in, in a blended family can be a tough spot. The challenges you’ll face are unique to the new family that you’ve put together. So let me encourage you with a couple of thoughts that might help. First, if you believe that all that comes to you has first passed through the hands of God, then the challenges before you are going to be a wonderful (but not always fun) opportunity to learn how to accept that which is before you—and lean on Him for your strength and guidance. Secondly, the challenges of being stepparent will soon pass as you and your spouse grow closer. The challenges presented by blending your family will soon be in the rearview mirror. So hold on to each other. Trust that God is present and take advantage of the opportunity before you.

A Teen’s Pressure to Be Perfect

No one is perfect. But sometimes, moms and dads think their kids should be the exception! The problem is that trying to appear flawless can prevent your teen from authentically and genuinely becoming who they were created to be. In this article, I’ll help parents avoid pushing their teens to chase after unattainable standards and warn parents against the dangers of pressuring teens to be perfect.

Where Does the Pressure to be Perfect Come From?

The pressure to perform well is aimed at teens from all directions––at home, at school and at church! But there’s no doubt that parents have an unmatched influence in their teens’ lives. Even parents who don’t think they’re being tough, can unknowingly communicate their desire for perfection. When parents only affirm their kid’s value when that kid is doing what the parents want or expect, kids grow up to believe that they must be perfect in order to be loved. By the time they reach the teenaged years, the pressure causes some kids to fear that if they make a mistake or do badly, they will lose the love of Mom and Dad.

Your teen spends a large portion of their life being trained and graded for their performance. There is intense pressure to perform well academically coming from school, the culture, and their peers. Many well-meaning parents want to see their teens get into a good college. They’re afraid that if they don’t put pressure on their teens, their student will miss out on opportunities as an adult. As a result, some teens become overly anxious about schoolwork and grades. Teens often think they need to have perfect grades to get into the best college or else their life is ruined.

Your church can be a wonderful source of wisdom, guidance, and connection for your teen. But there are spoken and unspoken pressures that teens face at church. Christian circles can be brutal to the one who makes a mistake. While teens need to hear about God’s standards, they often miss the pathway to forgives and transformation.

Does YOUR Teen Feel the Pressure of Perfection?

How do parents find out if their teens are struggling with perfection? Teens may respond differently to the pressure. Some teens will strive and struggle to live up to the world’s expectations and then implode, or live with bitterness into adulthood. Others may respond to the pressure by doing the opposite––giving up and escaping the stress. Watch your teen closely and stay connected by making regular time to talk.

What To Do to Ease the Pressure at Home

Help your teen get a big-picture view of life beyond academics, sports, and performance. Make it okay to mess up. You may remember that you made some of your own mistakes as a teen. It’s not only okay, but it’s also helpful to admit your own faults. Sharing your stories and how you overcame your failures is a golden opportunity to communicate the wisdom you gained and help your teen face his own problems.

Your teen is going to make mistakes whether or not you press on them to be perfect. What they need to know is that your love for them won’t change. Resist the temptation to tie your love to your teen’s behavior. Don’t withdraw your affection when your teen is not living up to your expectations. Give him grace. Most importantly, continually communicate God’s love for your teen. God doesn’t attach his love to any accolades or achievements. He loved your teen, even more than you do, before your teen achieved anything. The Bible says, “God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That means you and your teen!


Hey moms, dads, and grandparents … you’re not perfect. You never have been and you never will be this side of heaven. So quit trying to appear to be something you’re not. Release your teen from the pressures of having to get it all together and thinking that they can never make a mistake. This perfect world and perfect family doesn’t exist, and your attempts to appear that way won’t allow your teen to see that being authentically and genuinely who you were created to be is a far greater an accomplishment than appearing perfect by what you do. Bottom line is this—your teen needs an atmosphere where the demand for perfection is low and the encouragement to be honest is high. That authenticity creates a connection and a deeper relationship that helps your teen become who he was designed to be.