If you are going to parent your teens biblically you have to teach to the heart. Heart centered discipline is Gospel based discipline. Even if your teen is unregenerate, you should still teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness at the heart level (2 Tim 3:16).
Teach them what it means to glorify God by how they live their lives. The only place you will learn this is in God’s Word, so you will have to spend plenty of time there yourself to learn what to teach them.
When you have to rebuke your teen, be sure you are rebuking at the heart level. Very often we rebuke our children because their behavior irritates us, or because they have displeased us. Even worse, we tell them things like, “God is so disappointed in you” or “You have hurt God by that action.” That is nothing more than piling on the guilt and is not a biblical rebuke. Realize that when you lay on the guilt this does very little to bring about sorrow unto repentance.
Rebuking them biblically involves accountability. The teen must be accountable for their sin in whatever the matter is. It also involves asking questions intended to provoke thinking not emoting or feelings. If you don’t know what to ask or how to ask questions that reach the heart I suggest you follow the Genesis 3 model. Do what God did, ask questions for the purpose of accountability.
When God asked Adam, “Where are you?” He didn’t ask because He didn’t know where Adam was. God is omniscient and was fully aware of where Adam and Eve were hiding. God asked Adam where he was because He was looking for accountability. When God asked, “Did you….?” with respect to eating from the tree, He didn’t follow up with “Why did you do that?” In fact, as you read through the questions that Jesus asked in the New Testament, how many of them were “why” questions? (I will let you discover that answer on your own.)
Just like God did with Adam, you can call your teen to account for his or her actions and affect them on the heart level. Heart level questions affect beyond the emotions and may bring conviction into a person’s life.
Then you must move to correction which is a central part of discipleship as is the next point, training in righteousness. Too often parents issue edicts of “stop that” without addressing the biblical principle or training the teen in what to do.
Remember to tell your teen that biblical discipline is not punishment. While some form of discipline such as loss of privileges like driving the car, having a cell phone, or using the computer is painful and may feel like punishment it is not intended to be. It is also worthy of saying that at this point in life, any form of physical discipline won’t be very effective and will humiliate and embitter the teen.
A biblical rebuke and correction approaches the sin from a spiritual perspective and shows the teen God’s message about their sin. It is intended to bring them to godly repentance, not worldly repentance.
Training in righteousness requires the element of TIME and the place parents really, really struggle in engaging their teen. This is usually because they have not previously built much of a relationship with their child through the years. If you have very little relationship with your child going into the teen years it is not realistic to expect them to want to spend time with you, they are in the process of further detaching and moving forward in life.
If you want to speak into their lives you have to have their hearts. You also have to enter into their world to train them. You must take an interest in them as people and speak to the heart. Training them is an investment- and you will fail if you make it an “add on” in life. This has to become a priority and may demand sacrifice on your part in giving up activities or even your job. I have seen too many parents set their kids on autopilot and expect them to just “know.” It won’t work! You have to be a daily part of the kids’ lives, (which is why I am such a strong advocate for homeschooling) if you are going to see the heart attitudes that have to be addressed.
This is not easy, but hey, no one ever said parenting was going to be easy. It is not for the faint of heart and maybe there are times you really regret parenthood because it is just so hard! I understand, but I must say, the biblical responsibility remains with us. No one else is responsible for raising our kids. Whether we like it or not, God instructs parents to be the primary influence in the lives of the children He entrusts to them.