Connecting with Your Teen or Young Adult

There’s no one way to raise children. Discipline that works magic with one child may be completely ineffective with another.

At the bottom of every effective parenting strategy lies a universal foundation to good parenting: relationship.

Author Josh McDowell says, “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.” That means your child’s primary concern in life is not your rules.

What matters most to your teen or young adult is knowing that you love them.

That sense of intimate connection won’t come through your instruction, lectures, or rules. It’ll come through relationship with you. When children know they’re important, their hearts open to their parents’ perspectives and values.

How to connect with your child depends, in part, on their stage of development.

Children between 13 and 18 are experiencing unprecedented emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual growth. They’re curious and have all sorts of questions about life, love, and God.

Between ages 18 and 23, they become young adults who move away from home and home-oriented routines and explore the world.

Between 23 and 29, young people become focused. They make vocational, spiritual, and relational choices that close some doors and open others.

Dr. Kara Powell says, “We don’t have to grow apart from our children. We can grow with them.” She defines growing with your children as a mutual journey of intentional growth for both yourselves and your kids, trusting God to transform all of you along the journey.

She divides that journey into three categories:

  • Withing is a young person’s interaction with their family as they grow from dependence to independence.
  • Adulting is a young person’s interaction with the world and their future.
  • Faithing is the way that we as parents walk alongside our kids in the midst of their evolving, stretching, and growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

How can parents join with their children on that journey?

I recently talked about that with Dr. Powell on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Connecting with Your Teen or Young Adult.” She’s the executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. She shares a wealth of practical advice that’ll equip you to help your son or daughter launch well into adulthood.

We discussed ideas from her book Growing With: Every Parent’s Guide to Helping Teenagers and Young Adults Thrive in Their Faith, Family and Future. Listen on your local radio station, online, on Apple Podcasts, via Google Podcasts, or take us with you on our free phone app.

We are listener-supported. I’d like to offer you a copy of Dr. Kara Powell’s book for a gift of any amount. Visit our website or give us a call at 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459). If you can’t afford it, we’ll find a way to get it to you.

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Jim Daly

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