Parents whose kids are older than yours often play the "Just Wait" game. When you show these folks your darling infant, they reply, "Justwaitforthoseterribletwos." When your darling reaches 3, it's "Justwaittilltheygotoschool." And when it's full speed into preadolescence, they play the ultimate trump card: "Justwaittilltheybecometeens."
It's assumed you're incapable of preparing for that next stage of parenting. But we can train and strengthen ourselves for whatever adventures lie ahead. As a parent of three daughters—all grown up—I know this firsthand. And based on research I completed, I have 23 experts to back me up. Key church and parachurch leaders provided practical insights on how to parent teens. Their comments were diverse, but they agreed on this single, significant truth: Successful parenting of teens requires successful parenting of young children. And very young children, at that.
Several practical suggestions—embracing three key concepts—emerged from our talks.
Key Concept 1: Honor Thy Kid
Repeatedly, leaders I spoke with focused on the Fifth Commandment: "Honor thy father and mother." But they also declared, "Honor thy child." So how do we honor our children?
We honor our kids by taking them seriously. Wayne Rice, president of Understanding Your Teenager, recalls, "One of my favorite memories of my dad is that he always laughed at my jokes. They were probably terrible. But he honored me by laughing at them."1