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Guest Column

Why Your Teenager Doesn't Respect You - And what you can do to fix it
By Michael Wright
Dec 1, 2013 - 12:20:02 AM

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When we go to the doctor's office, we inevitably hear the words, "This may hurt a little." You are about to read some things may hurt a little, but I'm hopeful that like a tetanus shot, it will hurt initially and leave you better off in the end.

Every person with whom we interact is a type of relationship. Think of your relationships like a building--they all have a foundation. In any given relationship, the foundation consists of two distinctly different but equally important materials--the two individuals. Half the foundation of the relationship a parent has with his or her child is who that parent is himself or herself.

The way we see ourselves determines how we react to the people around us. Every one of us has some kind of deficiency--the Bible calls this sin. Romans 3:23 says we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There is hope, however, in Romans 6:23, which says the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.

If parents want to improve the relationships they have with their children, they have to start with themselves.

First, figure out where your relationship with God stands. No matter how far you have walked away from God, you are only one step away from returning to him. He is always going to be right there the moment you turn around. Don't misunderstand--the fact that you may have done some things that need to be rectified may still be true, but God will be with you every step of the way.

The next step is identifying the most beneficial type of relationship to have with your child. Your first obligation is not to be their best friend. It just doesn't work. Your job is to be their guide. Set for them the boundaries of behavior. Correct them when they are wrong, and don't give up.

So many parents wait to do this until their child is a teenager, but the best place to start is from birth. It is always easier to let up a little than it is to get tougher. Most teens will respect this because they will see that you really did love them enough to do what was hard.

They also want to be treated like you care enough to tell them no. Few, if any, will ever admit this as a teen, but they do want it. It gives them a sense of safety that you will not intentionally let them fail.

This part may hurt a little more--your habits. If you smoke, drink, swear, do drugs, have a tendency to be violent when angry, discriminate inappropriately--need I go on? Well, guess what--your child will too.

You cannot ask them to do something or be something you are not willing to demonstrate yourself. You must lead by example.

When you do something wrong, fix it the right way. The book of James says that if you know to do the right thing and do not do it, it is sin. Your child is watching and they understand more than you give them credit for. They may not be able to verbalize it correctly, but you know they know.

When you are right with God, you can find the strength to do these things right. This is the beginning of building a right relationship with your teen.

I am sure there are some reading this that have been doing this from day one. I am also aware that the teen that is rebelling by using drugs, addicted to sex, or always getting into legal trouble may have been brought up the right way. Once a person reaches the age of accountability, they have to answer to their own conscience. That age differs for everyone, but the majority reach it by their teen years.

All teens are going through their own hormonal challenges. However, most are now seeing the inconsistencies their parents are living and only know how to respond to this by acting out. That is why it is so important that you begin to change things by changing your own life.

I'm not saying anything I've written here is easy. All I am saying is that a healthy relationship with your child is not only possible, but outright guaranteed by the Word of God.

What God doesn't promise is that it will all be instantaneous. Rebuilding lives takes time and effort. Start with prayer and sincerely searching your heart for the truth about yourself and what it is you have to change. Ask God and he will show you where to start.

Michael Wright

A short story by Michael Wright: Lost in Teen - Part 1
Michael Wright
Dec 4, 2013

After putting his books back in his locker, Mark found his way to the exit doors where Jeff and Matt were waiting for him. They walked quietly from school to Jeff's house. It was good to feel the warmth of the sun on them this unusually warm fall day. The color of the leaves was growing bright. This made it more enjoyable to all of them as they walked through the historic small town.

Lost in Teen: Part 2
by Michael Wright
Dec 15, 2013

Mark had decided to head back to his campsite. He'd been living in the woods, but hadn't told anyone. It wasn't easy living like he was. Mark could remember reading Mark Twain's book "Huckleberry Finn." It had always seemed so inviting to live with no parents and no cares. It was a lot different living it for real.

Life Lessons from Sir Isaac Newton
by Michael Wright
Dec 13, 2013

It has been proven over and over that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Think about car accidents: it seems drivers are always trying to prove this theory false. Sometimes the result of testing this theory is very traumatic and sometimes it's almost comical. Sadly, too many times it ends tragically.

Michael Wright is a resident of Albuquerque, N.M. After an honorable discharge from the United States Army, Michael Wright earned his master's degree in Secondary Counseling and worked with troubled teens for more than 20 years.

He has recently published a 374 page book called Death of a Green Soldier which was released on June 20th and about which a short comment was published at Magic City on November 16, 2013

Death of a Green Soldier by Michael Wright.

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