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How Do I Help My Teenager Make the Right Choices?

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. Life is full of choices. When your child was young you made all the decisions for them and while you still influence them greatly, you no doubt have wished to help them make better choices from time to time. As our kids grow up and move toward adulthood, we must want more than simply seeing them make the right choices.  We need to equip them with a process. In other words, do they know how to seek God’s purposes for their life in their decisions.  I’m not saying they have to stop and have a time of intense prayer before they choose their sock color in the morning, but in any decision that can have an impact on them or someone else they need to turn first to God for wisdom.

When counseling students about making decisions I typically ask them 3 basic questions:

Is it biblical? – Does the bible have a clear word for what they are deciding? If so, it makes the choice a lot easier!  We need to help our children immediately think “What does God’s word say here?” Beyond that, we need to get them reading God’s word to hide it in their hearts so that the Holy Spirit can recall it to their minds every time it is needed.  Think of it this way, your teenager may learn something in their time in God’s word that will help them through a decision a year from now.  We must get God’s word in our heads and hearts!

Is it wise? – To determine if a decision is wise, we must think beyond just “what makes sense to me” or a knowledge based factor (although that matters too).  We get wisdom by asking God (James 1) and we find wisdom in a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22).  In other words, to make difficult decisions your teenager needs biblically grounded people in their lives.  They may not always get the best advice from their friends, but do they know which friends and adults in their life will give them godly advice?  Their willingness to hear wisdom and perspective from others will go a long way in helping them walk in wisdom themselves.

Is it desired? – What do you want to do or believe you should do in this situation? Our desires can no doubt be flawed which is why this is the third question rather than the first or second. In all steps of the process, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us. We pray about things that we are given biblical freedom and wise counsel on, then make a decision and move forward with it. Sometimes if the Bible does not give a command in the area of what to do and it isn’t something that requires input from others, the smaller decisions come down to… well… choosing. This will be an important message to hear, especially if your teenager struggles with indecision.

if they think through decisions with a process, they will make more confident decisions and be less stressed thinking that it is going to wreck their life if they choose wrong.  Choices matter, but the processes for choices at this age matter the most.  One day they won’t have you just around the corner to weigh in on a choice.  Have we equipped them to choose wisely?

One final thought here… don’t forget to keep the relational connection between you and your son or daughter alive and well during the stress of making choices. The decisions they make are important opportunities for them to deepen their relationship with you as their parent and with God as their heavenly Father.  No choice great or small should lessen your desire and approach in pursuing an ongoing relationship with them.  Most of all, we want them to know the same is true of God.  In II Samuel 22, David writes a song to the Lord about His deliverance. Verse 7 says, “In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came to His ears!” Let’s teach our teens that in every matter we can go to Him. Let’s show them that when they are in distress, He truly cares. When they have a choice to make, He wants to guide them.

You can pray for, guide, and model godly decision making for your teenager. Look for opportunities to think through the process of decision making and begin guiding them to know and treasure God’s wisdom.