Question: Dr. Dobson, my children are still young, and they are doing fine now, but I worry a lot about the adolescent years that lie ahead. I've seen other parents go through some pretty terrible things when their teenagers began to rebel. How can I help my sons avoid that turmoil ten years from now?
Answer: The apprehension that you describe is well founded, and many parents feel something similar today. The most important suggestion I can make is for you to redouble your efforts to build good relationships with your kids while they are young. That is the key to surviving the adolescent years. If they emerge from childhood with doubts about whether you really love and care for them, anything is possible during the turbulent teens. Boundaries, restrictions, and threats will be no match for adolescent anger, frustration, and resentment. As author Josh McDowell said, "Rules without relationship lead to rebellion." He is right. That's why parents can't afford to get preoccupied with business and other pursuits that interfere with the task of raising children. Kids are young for such a brief period. During that window of opportunity, they must be given priority.
Once you've done what you can to lay the proper foundation, I urge you to approach your parenting duties with confidence. Anxiety about the future is risky in itself. It can make parents tentative and insecure in dealing with their youngsters. They don't dare cross them or deny their wishes for fear of being hated in the teen years. Teenagers pick up those vibes intuitively, which often generates disrespect in return. Don't make that mistake. God has placed you in a position of authority over your young children. Lead them with confidence—and then stay on your knees for help from above.
From Dr. James Dobson’s book Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide.