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How to Raise YOUR Parents!

Have you considered how you as a teen could positively influence your relationship with your parents (or parent)? Read this article for some great tips on how to accomplish this important feat.

As young people mature into their teenage years, their cognitive abilities increase. Some of the greatest joys of life can occur as young people and parents come to deeper understanding of each other and through sharing their feelings, dreams, desires and even fears.

Family discussion Now about the title of this article . . . Most of us undoubtedly realize that God gives parents the responsibility of raising their children. After all, they are the parents. Sometimes, however, it is helpful to think outside the box to better understand important principles. Bear with our use of this tongue-in-cheek approach. In this article, we use this term "raise" in the sense of influencing parents.

Let's begin with the obvious. As young people, you probably understand that your parents have already gone through their terrible two's, puberty, adolescence and seven difficult teen years in order to finally reach adulthood. And along with each of these growing phases, your parents experienced ups and downs, highs and lows, fear and rejection, love and hate, including a vast assortment of problems, heartaches and joys which, when knit together, provided the kind of knowledge and wisdom they needed to survive and succeed in life. As such, they have more experience than you—experience they can share with you for your good.

When you work, study or play, each new day brings some unique discovery that captures your attention, and it's no different with your mom and dad except they've been doing it longer. And just like you, they also learn new things every day. But because they have been at it a little longer than you have, the odds are that they will usually have a better understanding of issues than you.

Perhaps you've also noticed that your parents occasionally make mistakes. No one is perfect. Do you ever say anything you wish you could take back? You do? Welcome to the club; we all make mistakes. Just like you, there are times Mom and Dad wish they could take back something they have said or done. While we all make mistakes, the challenge is to narrow down these mistakes.

In terms of how young people should treat their parents, the Bible is very clear. Exodus 20:12 says, "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you" (NIV throughout).

All parents want their children to live long and have fruitful lives. But how can children do this? By heeding the following: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1). Continuing, God repeats, through His apostle Paul, "'Honor your father and mother'—which is the first commandment with a promise—'that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth'" (verses 2-3, emphasis added). Here, God promises us long and fruitful lives if we honor and obey our parents.

Now that we have a little background, what can you do to better raise your mom and dad? Following are several points that can be a great help. And it makes no difference if your parents are together or if one of them is raising you as a single parent. What does matter is that you learn how to respond to your parent or parents. If you do, you can positively influence them to have a better relationship with you.

Point 1: Encourage your parents through good behavior! One of the best ways to encourage Mom and Dad (and so positively influence them) is by showing them how much you are growing up in the way you behave. Your good behavior is displayed by the way you study and what you do at school, how truthful and polite you are, the care you give when you do your house work, how you handle money and other people's property, the way you appreciate what you have been given, the way you take care of your things and clothes and the way you carry out and manage your responsibilities. Your effort makes a difference!

Whenever you demonstrate by your actions that you're overcoming a difficulty or major problem, you also encourage your parents. Whenever you try as hard as you can to do something—even if you don't succeed at the moment—you encourage your parents. When you say "please" and "thank you," you encourage them. When they hear a good report from your teachers, you encourage them. When you do what you're told without stomping off and pouting, you encourage them. When you say, "I love you," and mean it, you encourage them!

Point 2: Be considerate of Mom and Dad! Don't demand that everything be done your way. Let your parents listen to what they want to hear on the radio or watch on television once in a while.

Pick and choose the right time to talk with your folks about those things that annoy you, cause you to suffer or that you simply want to get off your mind. You'll find that it works a whole lot better and that you'll get more accomplished if they see your good attitude. Also, it's always better to handle any problem situation with elegance, style and grace.

Family activityPoint 3: Tell Mom and Dad "thanks" at least once a day! This is an extremely important point. "Thanks for what?" you ask? If you really think about it, you'll find a lot you can be thankful for. How about simply, "Thanks for being my mom and dad?" Or, "Thanks for providing my clothes, food, shelter, school supplies, entertainment, spending money, support, protection—your very love!" When you tell your parents "thanks," and really mean it, you'll find your life will suddenly become a whole lot easier.

Don't take your parents for granted. In today's world, Mom or Dad's health can deteriorate very quickly. Dad can lose his job overnight, Mom can end up having to take on another job just to make ends meet, and this could cause you to be affected in a way you probably wouldn't appreciate all that much.

No matter what your present circumstance might be, never think for a moment that your parents owe you a living simply because they brought you into this world. Yes, they do owe you their love, guidance, direction, instruction, time and protection, but they don't owe you a living. You owe yourself a living! You are the one responsible, as a young person, to learn how to make do with what you have; to appreciate what you have been given and make the most of it.

Point 4: Do something very special for your parents today! The key here is to do something very special for your parents before they ask. Why not do something special every day (or at least once a week)? What are some things you can do to positively impress your parents? Here are a few suggestions:

Let your parents know that you really love them by not only telling them that you do, but by doing something very special for them. When you do this, you are telling them by your actions that you respect them and love them.

Point 5: Apologize when you've done something wrong! Don't be afraid to tell your mom and dad that you're sorry when you have done something wrong. If you are sincere when you apologize, your parents will surely forgive you.

Making mistakes is part of being human, but it is wrong to make a mistake and then not apologize to the person or persons (classmates, teachers, best friends or parents) we have wronged!

Point 6: Never do anything to betray the love or trust of your parents or cause them to question your honesty! This is just about the most important thing you, as a young person, can do if you really want to positively influence your parents!

Your most valuable and precious possession is your name and what it represents. A name to be valued and desired is a name that stands for honesty and trust! If you ever lose the value of your name, you will have lost something that will be very hard to replace. Some say, it's almost impossible to replace a tarnished name or reputation.

Point 7: Don't think of yourself as being perfect! Keep in mind our previous discussion that everyone makes mistakes. Try never to become so upset at Mom and Dad's shortcomings that you fail to realize that you, too, have things you must overcome. Remember the Bible story about how we shouldn't worry about the speck of wood in the other person's eye, but rather, we should be very concerned about the large plank or beam of timber in our own eye? It's really no different with you and your folks, or anyone else. We all have some amount of "timber" caught in our eyes; we all have things we still need to overcome before we're able to judge the other person.

Whenever you see some of your parents' faults (shortcomings), remember, sometimes it's pretty difficult being a parent. In fact, sometimes it's pretty difficult just being an adult! As a young person living at home, you probably don't yet have the responsibility for raising a child. It's not up to you to provide the necessary clothes, food, shelter and many other essentials children need in order to survive (let alone succeed!). Think about it: Are you ready to take on the responsibility of raising and caring for a child the same age as you? Really?

Finally, if your parents make a small mistake, forgive whatever it is they may have done or said and move on with your life. In this situation, we are not talking about abuse. If you as a young person have been abused, you need to talk to an authority figure such as a minister or school counselor who can help you determine what steps you should take.

Point 8: Don't be afraid to ask Mom and Dad for advice! The next time you have the opportunity, ask your parents for advice regarding anything that is especially important to you. By doing this, you will not only gain their trust and a deeper concern about you and whatever it is that may be troubling you, you will likely discover that your parents have a lot of good solid advice they can share with you. Their wisdom may be just what you need to help solve one of your problems. And by going to Mom and Dad for advice, the chance of you sharing a deeper and more sensitive and considerate relationship with your parents is very good.

Point 9: Take Mom and Dad into your confidence! As hard as you think it might be to do, nevertheless, it's very important that you take your parents into your confidence. When you have problems, don't be afraid to tell your parents about them; let them know how you feel about whatever it is that's bothering you. You will find that by doing this, you will most likely resolve your problems with less difficulty and pain.

Talk with your parents like you would a friend. After all, you don't have any greater friends than your parents. Make it a point every day to treat your family, especially Mom and Dad, as you would your closest friend. And this means confiding in them about those things that are important to you; those things that frighten you, upset you, bother you or even please you.

Point 10: Don't be afraid of your parents! Don't be afraid to talk with them, work with them, joke with them and play with them.

Family at the beach Whenever you talk with your folks and suddenly things become a little tense, don't give up. In a gracious and polite manner, finish whatever it is you have to say. Whenever you work with Mom or Dad, finish what you have started. Don't leave your work half done. When you joke and laugh with them, don't be afraid to be the object of the joke. Be able to take kidding from others in the same way you give it out. And, when you play with your parents, have a ball. Let yourself go and really enjoy the moment because one day you'll realize that precious moments like these aren't lasting. They end all too soon.

It takes a lot of work and effort to properly raise (influence) your parents, just as it takes a lot of work and effort for them to raise you. But the rewards, as you grow into adulthood, are tremendous!

All human beings have been created with a desire to have great family relationships—a special love, trust and honor that only happens between children and their parents. "Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children" (Proverbs 17:6). However, in order to achieve this magnificent family experience, we must all do our part to make it happen. It takes a lot of hard work and effort, but in the end it's worth it. Young people reap a reward; parents reap a reward; and society, as a whole, reaps a reward. So, hang in there young people, and never give up your quest to help raise (influence) your parents! YU

About the author:
Adapted from the book, "The Joy of Raising Our Kids in the 21st Century," Gilbert H. Goethals and L. Raymond Hayes, 1994, pp. 283-301.

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