Fighting Over Control with Your Teen

When a child is born, parents assume a position of complete control as they raise this helpless little human being. But over the years, moms and dads must loosen the reins as their dependent child turns into an independent adult! In this article, I’ll walk you through four essential stages of giving up control and training your teen for life.  

During Stages of Parenting

Parents begin with ALL the control. Children are completely dependent on mom and dad for everything. The goal is to move that child from dependance to complete independence by the time they’re adults. Here’s the ideal path:

  • Stage One: Pleasing your child (birth through preschool years)
  • Stage Two: Protecting your child (toddler through elementary years)
  • Stage Three: Providing for your child (begins in junior high years)
  • Stage Four: Preparing your child (begins in early high school years)!

Getting Stuck in the Stages of Parenting

There are several reasons that some well-meaning parents get stuck in certain stages of parenting. Some parents, especially first-time parents, simply do not know what lies ahead for their teens. Others may not recognize the signs that their child is ready to move from one stage to the next, until tensions arise. Then, there are parents who resist change; they do not understand that the decisions and habits developed during one stage of development must shift and change when their child is moving to the next phase of life. Failing to move forward from one stage to the next means both parents and their teens will not function well.

Every stage has challenges. For example, parents who get stuck in the habit of always pleasing their young children, will get in trouble when their kids move to the seventh and eighth grades. Likewise, parents who fail to let go of the protective stage never let their kids experience the world outside their home, and will face trouble by the time their teen reaches high school and is naturally wanting more independence. During the high school years, Mom and Dad should be preparing teens for the real world ahead. But if they miss this important stage, disorder and confusion will surround these young adults in their college years.

What Happens When Parents Don’t Move Forward Appropriately?

Parents who refuse to or fail to move forward appropriately create a muddled, mixed-up, chaotic atmosphere at home. Their teens will act out because they feel insecure and unprepared to enter the world. These teens are often immature and irresponsible because they have not been given the opportunity to make decisions and take responsibility for their choices. Avoiding these sometimes uncomfortable but necessary changes doesn’t prevent problems; it simply puts off trouble for later. Ultimately, these teenagers will fight their parents for control over their own lives.

How to Transfer Control to Your Kids When the Time is Right

I’m not suggesting that you should dump all life’s decisions and responsibilities into your child’s lap all at once. It takes time and intentionality to train your child so that she is ready to take control when the time is right. Start by giving your teen control over smaller things. After all the Bible says, “he who is faithful in little will be faithful in much”. Remember that giving your child control is what your child needs, not necessarily what he deserves. It may feel uncomfortable and risky, but you must let your kids fail appropriately—and the sooner the better. Let them fail while they are in your home, where you can watch, train, and help them try again.

Encourage your teen to make decisions and accept responsibility for the rewards or consequences. Avoid the urge to step in and fix all their problems. Instead, let your teen flex his decision-making “muscles” as much as possible while they’re still home with you. Experience and practice are a critical part of the training process that they need to be prepared for life as an adult. In the long run, messing up during the teen years can be just the opportunity you and your teen need to prepare them for what’s next. That way, you can be there to help and guide, when necessary. 


Hey moms, dads, and grandparents … start saying this early in your teen’s life: “You need to be in control of your life.” Too often we want to control our teens. But for every instance that we’re in control, we’re missing the opportunity for our kids to learn control—of course, at appropriate age levels. Control is what parents have in the preteen years. Them being in control is what we’re hoping for in their teen years. Many times because of our desire to have one more momentary feeling of control, we lose a lifetime of influence. Teens want to be in control. Let them have it. And communicate––to those whom much is given, much is required. Your teens will love the freedom and begin to learn what it is to become an adult.

How to Rebuild Trust With Your Teen

You’ve been hurt. Your teen has lied, disrespected, or distanced himself from you—even gone against the values you hold dear. And you’re not alone. Parents reach out to me all the time, wondering how they can possibly rebuild trust with a teen who has disappointed them so many times. It’s exhausting, painful, and totally predictable.

You should expect that your teen will disappoint you. Jeremiah 17:5 says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh, and whose heart turns away from the LORD.” So, I don’t trust teens. Instead, I trust they’re going to make mistakes, poor choices, and bad decisions. That’s what I trust. In this article, I’ll tell you what you can do to rebuild your relationship and train up your teen to maturity.

Step Back and Refocus on What’s Really Important

You were chosen by God to have the children you have. God placed you in your teen’s life to help him mature. So, step back and remember the critical role you play in your teen’s development. You’re training your teen about how to make good decisions and that training comes from negative experiences and consequences, as well as good choices and rewards. Parenting is about creating a relationship that gives you a platform to speak into their lives.

Your wisdom and influence are important at all times in your teen’s life––the ups and the downs. It’s a relationship that is meant for a lifetime, and it is worth working on. So no matter how your teen is behaving, remember your teen is a precious son or daughter of God. Resist the urge to distance yourself when they break your trust. Instead, embrace these challenging times as an opportunity to guide them towards maturity, through experience.

Begin Treating Your Teen With Respect Again

Many parents get angry when their teens don’t behave the way they hoped they would. Respecting someone who has broken your trust, is hard. But respecting your teen doesn’t have to wait until you’ve fixed the trust issue. Respecting your teen doesn’t mean you agree or condone their inappropriate behavior. Instead, respecting your teen communicates that you love and value your teen, no matter what. Your teen is more likely to open up to you, to trust you, and to offer respect in return if you respect him first. So don’t let your teen’s choices change how you feel. Giving your teen love and respect when they don’t deserve it is called grace. It’s how God treats all his kids!

Focus on Rebuilding the Relationship

Stop focusing solely on correcting your teen’s behavior and focus on rebuilding your relationship! No one is perfect. It may sound strange, but I want teens to make mistakes when they are with me, because it’s an opportunity for me to help them grow. So when it happens, be ready to talk. Remember it’s not a lecture. To build up the relationship you will need to listen, even when your teen says things you don’t like.

Make time to have regular conversations. Look for ways to do things together. Take your teen out to eat or on a walk. Listen to your teen, and then respond without judgment or bitterness. Talk about the broken trust and be honest about your hurt feelings. Don’t avoid the problem, instead ask about your teen about what’s motivating his behavior. Find out about her feelings and what’s behind her lack of trust in you too. Then be ready to give a second chance. Take the long view. Most importantly, communicate your love. No matter what, keep loving your teen!


Hey moms and dads … there is a risk to letting your teens make decisions in their life. The risk of them making choices might just include times when they don’t use their best judgment. But they are learning how to make decisions, and you must allow them to do it—even though they make mistakes. They blow it and they disappoint you. But courage is getting back up in the saddle and giving them another opportunity to exercise their decision-making muscles, so that they may begin to see the need for wisdom and good judgment. It means that you have to give them another chance to blow it again, for the sake of the lessons to come. Let them make choices, be responsible for their decisions, and trust that the process will develop a sense of maturity. That only comes with a parent who’s willing to rebuild trust with their teen.

10 Reasons Your Teen Might Try Drugs

Many parents believe that raising kids in a Christian environment will prevent them from experimenting with drugs. But with adolescents being exposed to drugs at younger ages, no family is immune. In this article, I’ll share what motivates teens to use drugs and how parents can combat the allure of drugs.

Here’s what parents are asking about teens and drugs …

There’ve been a lot of arguments at home lately and our son is spending less and less time here. We suspect he’s using drugs. How do we crack down on drugs AND rebuild our relationship at the same time?

I’m pretty sure my daughter is using drugs with her friends. Will changing schools help my kid stop drugs?

Our son knows we don’t allow drug use, but he’s tried pot once or twice. What are some practical consequences for teens who experiment with drugs? 

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you’ll want to start thinking about what motivated your teen in the first place. Here are 10 reasons your teen might try drugs.

  1. Curiosity. It’s a natural part of being a teen. They wonder how it will feel, but then they get hooked. Teens are prone to make dumb choices because of immaturity.
  2. Friends are doing it and look like they are having fun together. Your teen craves acceptance. What teen doesn’t want to have friends and have fun? 
  3. Pressure to fit in. National studies reveal that up to 60% of teens will smoke pot by the end of high school. Your teen has a strong desire to belong.
  4. To get relief from stress. 50% of kids today show signs anxiety or depression. Most lack healthy relationships, and don’t know where to find relief when they’re stressed out. Your relationship with your teen can be a much-need relief valve during stressful times.
  5. To calm anxiety. Anxiety centers around the things your teen is unsure about. They’re bombarded by “what ifs”. Normal anxiety motivates, but too much debilitates.
  6. To escape depression. Depression is a feeling your teen is sure about. He’s convinced he’s not good enough, not capable, or not loved. It’s a significant hurdle for teens and if they don’t know how to manage these feeling, some turn to drugs.
  7. To forget about the fighting with parents at home. When there’s tension at home, teens desperately seek relief. While parents can get in car and drive off, teens feel trapped and drugs look like a way out.
  8. To feel good about themselves. I hear from teens all the time that they long to feel “normal.” The pressure to look and act a certain way is magnified by social media. They want to be happy, but they don’t know how, and they’re being lied to by culture.
  9. To exercise control over their life, especially if Mom and Dad are too controlling. Drugs are a decision your teen gets to make, without Mom and Dad.
  10. Just because drugs are available! Legalization has opened up drugs to a wider group of teens. They’re easy to find. In fact they’re hard to avoid!

Does it matter WHY my teen is trying drugs? 

Your response needs to deal with what caused the behavior in the first place. How you respond will depend on what’s motivating your teen. For example, your response to a teen who tries drugs because he’s curious, will be different from a teen who is struggling with depression. Find out why your teen is using drugs. Reaching your child’s heart is more important than simply fixing the behavior.

How do I find out the motivation behind my teen using drugs?

Ask. You might be surprised to find they’ll answer when they’re asked! Observe. Be a student of your teen. How have they changed? What’s going on in their life that might lead them to seek relief in drug use? Get outside help. If your teen won’t open up to you, try going to a counselor.


Hey moms and dads … Your teen will have the opportunity to use some type of gateway drug in their life, unlike the social circles that you and I grew up in. That being said, it’s extremely important that all parents realize our teens’ choices may lead them down a deadly path and take your family on a path that no one wanted to walk. There are two things to watch for. One, look for the opportunity that will be there for your teen to access drugs. Drugs are accessible, permissible, and many times promoted by those who don’t care about your teen. So keep your eyes peeled. Second, if you suspect that your teen is using, get the help they need quickly. Don’t just try to change their behavior, but help them understand that the choices they make today will affect their life tomorrow. Encourage them to use their head, make good choices, and walk away from those desires that appear attractive, but ultimately are deadly.