Strong-Willed Teens

Written by Mark Gregston. Posted in Parenting, teen culture


President Theodore Roosevelt said, “I can be President of the United States, or I can control my daughter, Alice. I cannot do both.”

Parents of strong-willed kids understand that raising them requires a lot of time, attention, and effort. It’s not easy to harness their energy and put it to good use. These kids will always put boundaries to the test … and challenge the system.

So, if you have a strong-willed teen at home, remember these few keys…

  • Get on the same page discipline-wise with your spouse.
  • Communicate your boundaries clearly …
  • And make sure consequences are explained well in advance!

It may take extra time and energy … but there are ways to make the most of your interactions with a strong-willed teen. Soon, he’ll become a strong, principled young adult!

Clashing Viewpoints

Written by Mark Gregston. Posted in Parenting, teen culture


When your teen spits out some contentious remark about legalizing marijuana or abortion rights … how should you respond?

You might feel concerned about your child’s thinking now. But you do have the power to influence it. Here are some principles I think will help:

  1. Take your child out once a week to help establish a good point of communication.
  2. Ask open-ended questions that challenge them to think for themselves.
  3. Always treat them with respect.
  4. And don’t share your own opinion unless they ask for it.

Sure, these are sometimes easier said than done. But with time and patience, you can build a meaningful relationship with your teen that affirms you still—and will always—love him … even if you disagree.

Over- Responsible Parents

Written by Mark Gregston. Posted in Parenting, teen culture


Have you ever noticed that teens who are irresponsible and unmotivated often have parents who are just the opposite?

Hardworking moms and dads often have a tendency to be over- responsible for their children’s lives. Rather than letting their kids take care of their own problems, mom and dad immediately volunteer to step in and help.

But there’s one thing these parents don’t realize. The more that mom and dad do for their child … the less their child has to do for himself!

So has your teen figured out that he can be immature and irresponsible as long as mom and dad are there to rescue him? It’s time to let go, step back … and give him the space he needs to foster independence.

The Three C’s

Written by Mark Gregston. Posted in Parenting, teen culture


There are three “C’s” in every teenager’s home: change, conflict … and chaos!

After living with teens and working with their families for three decades … I am well acquainted with each of these “C’s”! But let me say this: one of them is avoidable!

When kids grow, change is necessary. Mom and Dad need to flex in order to keep connecting with and training their kids. Then, in every family there will be conflict. Sometimes it comes because a teen is changing. Sometime it comes simply because we’re human.

But chaos … that’s the “C” that doesn’t have to rule your home. Change is scary. And conflict is even worse. But running from change and conflict will only lead to chaos!

Crushing Discoveries

Written by Mark Gregston. Posted in Parenting, teen culture


No parent ever dreams that their child might experiment with drugs, alcohol or some other dangerous activity. But the reality is … it happens every day. So how can we see past the crushing feelings of grief or betrayal … and help our teens get to a better place?

Once you’ve discovered the truth about your child’s behavior, let it sink in for a few days … and give yourself time to pray and seek counsel.

Then, as soon as you’re ready, confront the issue with your teen. I recommend setting up three separate meetings to expose problems, express feelings, and discuss expectations.

Finally, trust that God will give direction as you walk along the path of this conflict. He promises to stay by your side every step of the way.