Shaping Your Teen’s Character: Introduction

You will not find the word “teenager” in the Bible. However, the Bible does say everything relevant that teens and parents need to know. We are encouraged in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” We can also find comfort in the promise from James 1:5 as we guide our children through the shaping process into young adults: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”    

The typical struggle of teenagers is powerfully captured in the first eight chapters of Proverbs. Solomon initiates the calling and connection with his child by using the phrase “my son” over 20 times in the book. Proverbs 1:8 shares, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” Those calls are then followed by requests for action: “hear, consent not, walk, hide, forget not, keep, etc.” These chapters reveal that teens have to overcome many challenges such as no natural hunger for wisdom or correction, a tendency toward excessive “that isn’t fair” thinking, an unwise choice of companions, being susceptible to sexual temptations, a lack of insight into the world outside of their own, and a limited awareness of needs of the heart. Teens that grow with wisdom and parental/wise support can find success in the following relevant issues: searching for independence and identity, navigating physical and mental changes, confronting personal morality and values, pondering sexuality and marriage, and making decisions about the future.1

Author Paul Tripp refers to this amazing transitional stage as the “Age of Opportunity.” It is the parent’s blend of grace and truth that will help their teen see that fences or boundaries can be for safety and not just confinement. Parents get to lead the way in instructing their teen that wisdom is not a thing, but a process and a person. That person is Jesus Christ. Teens that are riding their rapidly changing mental, emotional and physical roller coaster usually give their parents many opportunities and moments to show Christ’s unconditional love. Not all of them will be planned, but often they will come in intense moments and test our reactions to their actions. The process part involves how we act and react and our ability to model Christ during those intense moments. Those opportunities provide a powerful testimony to our teens about the needs of a Savior for their heart and His grace working in our heart. This article will briefly highlight understanding teen development, talking with your teen, the role of boundaries, what teens want from parents, managing out of control teens, preparing teens for launch, and grace/truth basics.


  1. Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages of Teenagers (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2000).

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