Wrestling with Teens: It’s Not What You Think


We parents could easily cite a few hundred analogies to describe our approach to raising teens. Here’s a few:

  • “Keep them on a tight leash.”
  • “I want to be their best friend.”
  • “Wake me up when it’s over.”

Which one works for you?

Before you decide, let me offer another possibility: I’m wrestling with my teens.


Teens are wrestling with their hormones. Who on the planet’s not?! For them it’s sprouting hair and cracking voices. For us it’s thinning hair and cracking faces. Why be hard on teen girls for PMS when we suffer the same mood swings? Why chide sons for risky behavior when we’d love a bottle of testosterone right about now? We all wrestle helplessly with bodies that confuse and fail us. Let’s lighten up and sympathize.

Teens are wrestling with peer pressure and sin. Addictions, fads, and sin don’t fight fair and we hate it when our teens get pinned. But we battle insecurity and weaknesses too. How often do we secretly copy a stellar mom we admire? How many dads make purchases to impress some other dude who’s 40? How many times have you let the sun go down on your wrath? The battle for approval doesn’t end at age 20. We all wrestle with insecurity, fitting in and relating well to others. Why do we make our teens feel stupid for struggling in the same ways we do?

Teens are wrestling with God. Tell me that you’ve never doubted God in your adult life and I’ll tell you that you’re lying. If we have our doubts, then certainly teens will question God’s existence, the Bible, and the value of a pure life. If Jacob wrestled with God and he came out stronger for it, then by faith, can’t we encourage our teens to believe that they can too?

  • Keeping teens on a tight leash may seem powerful.
  • Acting like a friend may seem cool.
  • Snoozing through it all may seem easy.

But teens don’t need animal control officers, permissive friends, or lazy parents. I’ve been all of these off and on for the past 18 years. Now, with only seven months left to parent a teen, I want her to hear me cheer more and jeer less. I want to tussle with her, not against her… in this wrestling match called life.

Colossians 3:21

Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits. The Message (MSG)

Fathers, don’t scold your children so much that they become discouraged and quit trying. Living Bible (TLB)


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