engaging teens in devotional time


I have a thirteen year old which means my husband and I have just entered the years of learning to parent a teenager. It also means that we have moved pretty much to the bottom of the list on the cool chart. I mean way down. I realize this is a phase that every child goes through as they transition from child to adult, but it’s not easy. The hardest part for me is knowing how to handle my teen’s “too cool for me” attitude. It’s especially hard when it comes to engaging him in devotional times and talking about Jesus. Though I’m still very much in the midst of navigating the water on this, this is what I’ve learned thus far.

1. Don’t freak out. Even though your teen seems too cool to talk all things spiritual, now more than ever, it’s necessary to keep those conversations going. The teen years are so awkward and just weird. It’s a pivotal time to continue to instill Truth into them. They may not seem responsive, but they are listening. The beginning of this year I had a slight freak out over my son not being interested in talking about the things Jesus is doing in his life. God, being the gentleman that He is, reminded me that it simply isn’t the case. This season will pass. My job in the meantime is to continue to weave Jesus into our conversations and let my knees get a little calloused as I fall on them to pray for him.

2. Don’t push; be patient. This is a hard one for me. When my son acts too cool and uninterested, I tend to want to push him to be interested. It has the opposite effect. It drives him further away. Patience is key.

3. Let your child read at his/her own pace and then discuss. One thing that I have found is helpful is to read a devotion or a book separately and then discuss them together. Books like Jesus Is… or Max Lucado’s newest devotional book, One God, One Plan, One Life, are great places to start. Though it’s not the traditional sit down and read a devotion together, we’ve had some great conversations because he’s been able to read something, and then think about it before we discuss.

4. Remember your teen is turning into an adult, so frame your questions like he or she is one. We want our babies to stay our babies. It’s not easy to watch our kids grow up, but I’ve found that if I speak to my son like he’s an adult, then he rises up to that role with some maturity. I can’t ask him the same questions that I asked him even a couple of years ago.

5. Let him ask you questions, and get personal. I used to think I had to look strong in front of my kids. The reality is that our kids need to know our struggles and how we walk them out so that they can learn. It’s a grave mistake to not share those struggles we face. As you ask your teen questions about devotionals they are reading, let them ask you, and when appropriate, share the struggles you’ve faced along the way. Not only will it create a safe place for them to share, but it will make you more relatable, something I think all parents of teens long for.

Do you have a teen in your house? Do you find that your teen takes on that “too cool for me” attitude? How do you handle that, especially when it comes to engaging your teen in devotional times and talks about Jesus?

This post was written as part of my monthly Tommy Nelson contribution offering words of encouragement and lessons I’ve learned so far on parenting and children. A short teaser of this post as well as many more posts on parenting and children can be found at Tommy Nelson.

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  • MaryAnne
    January 7, 2016 at 6:44 am

    Great advice here!

  • Elisa | blissfulE
    February 1, 2016 at 3:53 am

    My kids love it when I share my mistakes, especially from the time of life they are currently in. 🙂 (Un)fortunately, I have plenty… !!!