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It must be one of the hardest scenarios a parent faces today—wanting to be the right influence over your young person, yet not having total control over the forces that influence them, even in the context of your own home.

You have been through the battle of the divorce, the hurt and pain of separation from your spouse, and the hurt and pain of separation between you and your teen.

Now they are in the heat of their teenage years when they need you the most. Some of the toughest situations they will ever face are on the horizon and they need your guidance and counsel.

You are not afforded much of an opportunity to speak into those situations, which is complicated by the fact that most ex-spouses do not get along very well.

Teens all over the nation are feeling the effects of divorce:
"I wish that when my mom talked to me she would say 'dad' like she used to when they were together. Instead she says, 'your dad' which makes it seems like she has nothing to do with him."

"When my parents got divorced they never explained to me why. I'm in custody of my mom and now my dad is giving me guilt trips about not staying at his house more often. I wish he would understand that I just like staying with my mom better."

"My mom talked bad about my dad through the divorce. They treated each other with no respect around their children."

"They yelled about the other parent when they were just as much to blame and made me choose who to live with."

"I moved in with my dad because I fought with my mom. I wish they would have learned to communicate with each other better and therefore prevent this."
Maybe you have partial custody of your teenager—part of the time they are with you and part of the time they are with their father or mother.

Maybe you see them on weekends, every other week, or every six months. You can see that no matter how many letters you write or how many phone calls you make, it doesn't seem to do much good, so you are tempted to just cut everything off.

What exactly is a parent to do in this particularly difficult situation?
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother"—which is the first commandment with a promise—"that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
(Eph. 6:1-3)
Now obviously this is a commandment to young people from the Lord to honor their mother and their father, to esteem them highly, to look up to them, to listen to them, and to treat them with respect.

Sometimes, as a result of the divorce, we make it difficult for our teen to respect and honor the other parent through things we say, comments we make, or stories we tell.

The best situation for your teen to be in is for them to be honoring their mother and father. The problem, however, is that we get jealous.

We don't want our teen to honor and respect the other parent more than they honor and respect us, so we tear the other one down, thinking they will like us more. We see our own interests as more important than the interests of the young person.

Your teen needs to honor their parents. You can help by not telling them every story of hurt that happened or everything your spouse did or said. You need to protect your ex-spouse and make them look good even when they may not deserve it.

Why? Because you are protecting your teen.

Like it or not, your ex-spouse is still the mother or father of your child. When divorced persons play the childish game of being jealous for the attention and respect of their young person, it ends up doing the young person a lot more harm.

It rips their heart apart. It rips their allegiance apart. Sometimes they believe you, sometimes they believe the other one.

That is one reason God hates divorce. (See Malachi 2:16.) He knows it rips apart the hearts of those getting divorced as well as the hearts of the children. Making the best out of a terrible situation helps them respect both parents.

It's bad enough there has been a divorce, but you further drag their heart down a bumpy road of pain, remorse, and regret, continually reminding them their parents are not married, by constantly slamming your ex-spouse.

If you have said or done anything like that, as I'm sure all divorced persons have done from time to time (I know my parents did it all the time), ask your young person to forgive you.

"I'm sorry for what I said about your dad. Even though I may not like him and we had our own reasons for divorce, I had no right to drag down your estimation of him."

This takes humility. It takes a man or woman who is big on the inside to humble themselves and choose not to be threatened if the other parent looks good.

In the long run, you are the one who will look good, because your young person will look back on the fact that you did not try to tear their heart away from the other parent. That says you are mature and secure and not intimidated by someone else's success or respect.

Source: Rescue Manual For Parents by Ron Luce.
Excerpt permission granted by Albury Publishing

Author Biography

Ron Luce
Web site: Ron Luce
Ron Luce was the co-founder's and president of Teen Mania Ministries from 1986-2015. Ron and his wife Katie dreamed to raise up young people who would change the world.

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