When my husband does a seminar called “Ten Commandments for Parents of Teens,” I have often heard him say that what your teens want and what you, their parents, want for them is not the same thing. What your teens want more than anything else is independence—that is, the right to make their own decisions. On the other hand, what you want for your teens is maturity—the ability to make the right decisions.
God says to His people in the book of Deuteronomy, “If only they were wise and would understand…and discern what their end will be!” (32:29). That verse is a great description of maturity—the ability to discern what will be the end results of decisions that a person makes. If a young person—or anyone else, for that matter—can weigh a situation and look down the road and see what will be the future result of each of his choices—and then make the best choice, he or she has true wisdom and understanding. His life decisions will result in what is best for him in the long run.
Robert Frost's poem “The Road Not Taken” pictures the author coming to a point in life where the road divides into two. After studying both ways he could go, he makes a decision and chooses one on which to continue traveling. He ends his poem with these words:
two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
No doubt we parents talk too much and don’t listen enough. May I make a suggestion? When your teens have decisions to make that will affect their future, spend plenty of time listening to their thinking. Ask pertinent questions. Resist the urge to tell them what to do. Get them to think about what the end results will be for each of their choices. And then pray for them. You may be thankfully surprised at the mature choices they will make.