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Why Is There a Barrier Between My Teenager and I?

Written by Zach Cochran on

Have you had deep, impactful conversations with other teenagers, but struggle to have those same meaningful interactions with your own student? You aren’t alone. Many parents have shared with me that they struggle to connect with their student on a deeper level. Like many Christian parents, your heart’s desire is for your teenager to know and love God—and to play a role in that spiritual growth. But it seems like there’s a barrier between you and your child.

Are you parenting a teenager and facing that relational barrier? There are two reasons I believe this happens:

1. Satan Hates the Family

Satan has sought to destroy the family since the Garden of Eden, and he continues to do so today. He caused strife between Adam and Eve that created a generational rippling effect. As God’s people multiplied, so did the painful impact of sin—on individuals and families. Cain murdered Abel, Abraham and Sarah were childless, David stole a wife—and those are just a few examples.

Why is this important? Because it reminds us: the barrier between parent and child is not just sociological—it is supernatural. Discipleship in the home is spiritual warfare; therefore, you must lean into it. You must not give up when you aren’t getting anywhere, and you must pray. Prayer is your most strategic tool in the formation of your teenager’s faith. 

2. You Are Exposed

Another reason it is hard for you to connect with your teenager is because your sin is exposed. As you’re parenting a teenager, you’re also showing them many of your strengths and weaknesses. In those everyday moments, your sinful nature is revealed and you can’t hide it. And when we are exposed, the human tendency is to become insecure and defensive. 

One possible reaction to this exposure is to bear down or to avoid it. Many parents do this—they simply act like their children don’t see their weaknesses. Yet, this is detrimental in many ways. If your teenager only sees you acknowledge your strengths, they will have one of two reactions: they’ll gravitate toward perfectionism in their own life or they will start to disconnect from you because your life feels ingenuine.

I encourage you to choose vulnerability over strength. 

Let your teenagers see your scars. Using godly wisdom and discernment, let your teenager in on your struggles and insecurities. And as you choose vulnerability, take it one step further by being willing to admit when you are wrong, to ask forgiveness from others when you sin against them. Simply put: model for your teenager what Paul means when he says he will boast of the things his weakness (2 Cor. 11:30). When you do this, you shine the glory of Christ brightly in your teenager’s life. 

Zach Cochran

Zach received a B.A. focused in Philosophy from the University of Tennessee at Martin and received his M.Div. from Southern Seminary in Louisville. A former pastor at College Park Church, Zach now serves as an associate pastor at Sojourn Church J-Town in Louisville, KY.

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