Tuesday Talk: Let the Pruning Begin!

One of the first things I noticed when I moved to the South was the Kudzu vine. I grew up driving through the Atlanta area at night to avoid the traffic, so I had never really noticed it before moving here.  I probably saw it but I didn’t know how threatening it was and how it grew. I now understand that given the right climate a Kudzu vine can grow sixty to one hundred feet per year. The vine can take over yards, fields, swallow trees, and wrap around houses. Kudzu vines thrive most when their neglected and once they entrench their surroundings, it can take years to kill the unhealthy yet flourishing vine.

How does the Kudzu vine compare to the teen community? Can a teen get entangled in peer pressure? Do some teens allow their surroundings to determine their future?

Foolishness can easily and quickly entangle a teens thinking, feelings, and acting. Unhealthy choices and peer pressure seem to swallow our teens and before we know it, the consequential climate permeating throughout our home is pretty intense.  Is it possible that the teen community needs some solid pruning in reference to friends and relationships, like the Kudzu vine?

Let’s consider the following pruning points to determine how we’re doing:

  1. Friend check:  Do your teen’s friends treat your teen with respect? Do your teen’s friends treat you, the parent, with respect? What type of reputation does your teen have? What type of reputation do your teen’s friends have? What types of activities are they involved in? Is your teens friends outlook for the future similar to the future you are wanting for your teen son or daughter? Are they consistently making foolish choices?
  2. Role Model check: Who does your teen look up to? What shows are they watching on TV? Have you listened to the words of their favorite songs? Is there someone older than your teen that really influences the choices your teen makes (in a positive or negative way)?
  3. Environment check: Where does your teen hang? What is the one location they are always asking to go to? Is it a friend’s house-what makes that house the hang out house? Is it the local movie theatre-what is so popular about the movie theatre?
  4. Habit check: How is your teen doing with self-indulgences? Does your teen have some obvious unhealthy habits that need to be discussed? Have you thought about the fact that drinking and drug problems often stem from the commonly accepted teen drinking and drug scene? What is your teen looking at while he or she is on the computer? Have you discussed the garbage in garbage out concept with your teen?
  5. Heart check:  Is their complaining out of control? Are they cynical or always looking for the chance to criticize someone? Is impatience an issue? Do they get angry easily? Is there a sense of appreciation within the home or a sense of entitlement? Does your teen value him/herself?

Raising a teen son or daughter in today’s world is tricky. It’s a daily balancing act of releasing freedom and providing structure. Especially since, the older our teens get the less we know about their daily life (unless they choose to share it with us).

For the last few years I’ve raised teens, taught sexual health in 7th, 8th, and 9th grade, equipped parents through trainings, and met with young girls dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.  In these settings I’ve noticed two distinctly different parenting tendencies.

  1. One tendency is for parents to truly believe they can control everything.  This parenting approach often includes some enabling which leads to the teen not seeing any reason for taking responsibility.  Many times these parents have their heads buried in the sand believing they will always be able to determine what their son or daughter does, says, who they hang with, etc. Helicopter parenting is extremely common in our current culture.
  2. The second tendency is for parents to assume there is no way to implement any guidelines -considering the worldly competition so they select “best friend” parenting or no parenting.  Many times this parenting style leads to the home being controlled by the teens rather than the home being led by the parents.

To be honest, as I look at our own home and our parenting approach, I can identify times when we have done a little bit of both of these. Parenting is hard stuff, especially parenting teens in today’s world.

If I were to ask you which one of the pruning checks mentioned above is the most important, what would your response be? Personally, I would select the heart check. The more I interact with teens the more I’m able to identify how much the heart plays a role in their everyday living. The heart impacts your teen’s friendships, the role models they look up to, where they spend their time, and their daily habits.

As your kids get older it’s easier to identify where their heart is. Are you looking for clues? Are you having heart conversations with your teen son or daughter?

Let the Pruning begin.

I hope you don’t read the questions above and allow negative self-talk to lead you to believe you’re a terrible parent. We all have areas that need improvement and areas that we do rather well. Instead, hone in on a few specific questions that stirred your thinking when you read them and identify some simple ways to intentionally address your thoughts with your teen son or daughter.

If you believe in prayer, pray for an opportunity to share your concerns with your son or daughter. As a parent we often underestimate God in relationship to our children. God has a special plan for your child’s life. Yes! Your teen son or daughter has free will and can make their own choices, but God is still active and impacting everything that is happening around them.

Try not to give in to the lie that God doesn’t care about the little stuff. God doesn’t necessarily sweat the small stuff but He creatively allows the small stuff to develop what becomes powerful chapters along the way – He is writing your teens story.  As your teen grows older and eventually goes off to college you will start to see glimpses of the story that God has been lovingly writing all along.

God loves our teens even more than we do!  He will provide specific parenting opportunities for us to address what needs to be addressed. Lean into the truth that He (God), who began a good work within your son or daughter, will continue His work until it is finally finished.

Remember the earlier comparison? Kudzu vines and the teen community.  Research has proven that simple maintenance and regular pruning can control the problem that Kudzu vines create. Is it possible that the same is true for our teens? Let the pruning begin!

Philippians 1:6

New Living Translation (NLT)

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.


Tuesday Talk: Raising our teens in an R-rated world. Tuesday Talk: When one moment outwieghs what could have been.
Tuesday Talk: Raising our teens in an R-rated world.
Tuesday Talk: When one moment outwieghs what could have been.