How Families Raise their Teens: Interview with the Nguyen Family

Nguyen1Are you looking for ways to raise your teenagers? Would it help to read about what other Christian families are doing successfully to raise their teenagers? I hope this interview with the Nguyen family from Texas will help inspire hope, motivation and some ideas!

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How many children do you have, and how old are the ones that are currently adolescents? (10-19)

We have 6 children (4 boys, 2 girls), and 3 of them are adolescents.

What have been some changes you noticed in your children as they became adolescents? Did you feel shocked, worried, surprised, etc?

In general, they want to become more independent.  They want to spend a lot of time alone in their rooms doing their own things.  The most dramatic changes are the ones I observe in our teen daughter.  She questions her faith at times, and it seems that we have to spend a lot of time explaining to her why our family has certain rules and values that may differ from her friends’ families.

I am somewhat surprised at the drastic change in my daughter.  I think a lot of it has to do with her going through puberty and the physical changes that are taking place and how they affect her emotionally.

Did you notice a difference between your boys and girls?

Yes, my boys are much easier than my teen daughter.  They don’t question us too much.

What’s your main concern and goal for your children (I’m referring mostly to your teens)?

Our biggest concern is that they may make bad choices that could have consequences for the rest of their lives.   To us, it is important that we are able to pass our Catholic faith to our children because we believe if they maintain their faith, then they will be able to deal with whatever comes their way.  They will then have a firm foundation on which to base their life.

What are some things you do as a family that help your family live out the Christian faith?

We truly believe in the sacraments as the gifts that Jesus provides for us so that we can live out our Christian faith.  Below are some of the things we are currently doing:

  • Attend Mass every Sunday and all Holy Days of obligations.  Even if we are on vacation or travelling, we make sure to arrange our traveling schedule so that we can attend Mass at the closest church available.
  • During the summer, we also attend Mass on Wednesday nights and go out to dinner as a family afterwards.
  • We pray the rosary (a decade) every night as a family.
  • During the school year on Wednesday nights, we read the Gospel for the coming Sunday to our children and then we discuss the Gospel with them.
  • We try to go to confession on a quarterly basis.

[ Click here to learn about my book series on the Adolescent Jesus]

What has helped you as a parent transmit your faith and also Christian values?

We strive to live out our faith and values on a daily basis.  We believe that our actions speak louder than our words so we must be the man and woman that we want our children to become. We believe the following has helped our family:

  • A great marriage between my wife and me.   We show great love, affection, and respect for one another in front of our children – most of the time.
  • We often discuss our faith with our children when the opportunity arises.  This can take place at the dinner table or when we are all in the car together.

You once showed me your family mission statement. How did that come about, and what’s its purpose?

I work for a company and my company has a mission statement that states the purpose of the company’s existence.  I think that most companies have a mission statement.  This then gave me the idea that we must have a purpose for our family.  God did not put our family here on earth to wander aimlessly.  Why do we exist and what is God calling our family to do?  My hope is that my family will be able to focus on this mission statement and strive to fulfill it.

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What is your family mission statement?

The Nguyen Family Mission Statement

The mission of the Nguyen Family is to glorify God with our lives and to experience God’s love through our family.  We will strive to be strong, competent, and responsible men and women who habitually live by Christian virtues.  The seven Christian virtues are faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.  By living out these virtues and with God’s grace and guidance, our Family will be Christian witnesses to the community in which we live.  Jesus Christ is the foundation on which our Family is built, and we will serve Him.  May God help our Family in fulfilling this mission.  Live, Jesus, live within our home and our hearts forever and ever.  Amen!!!

Do you find it helpful to send your teens and children to a Catholic/private school, and also to youth groups and clubs, retreats and camps? How have these been helpful to you as a parent? What do you expect of these?

Our children attend public schools.

My sons and I are involved in Conquest, and we attend the campouts on a regular basis.  We recently attended the Midwest Catholic Conference as a family and we hope to attend this conference on an annual basis.

We believe that these activities have been very helpful in the formation of our children.  Our children get to see that many kids their own age have the same goals and values as they do.  They also get to hear some great speakers – people who love the Lord and speak with conviction.  I think that children can sense authentic faith when they encounter it and they are usually open to it.

How do you balance your teens’ desire for independence and freedom with your concerns for their safety and well-being, as well as your desires for them?

We strive to provide a loving and a happy family for our children so that they do not need to seek fun and happiness anywhere else.  As an example, we have a swimming pool, a ping pong table, a pool table, a foosball table, and electronic devices so that they can enjoy fun activities right at home.  My wife and I spend a lot of time with our children playing tennis, golf, various games, and other activities.

We are very careful about our children’s friends and who they associate with.   We encourage them to have friends who hold the same values as we do.  We often tell them that God’s commandments and the teachings of the Catholic Church are not meant to take fun away from their lives, but to protect them.

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How do you balance being a mentor and disciplinarian with being a friend and companion to your teens? When are you empathetic, and when do you challenge them?

We see ourselves as parents first and a friend/companion second.  If we are to err, we rather err on the side of being a parent rather than a friend.

What tips would you offer other parents whose children are entering adolescence?

Be the man or woman that you want your children to become.  The greatest influence that you can have on them is by your actions.  Your children will see right through your hypocrisy if you do not live out your faith and values on a daily basis.

  • Spend time with them.  Love equals time.
  • Pray for them often.  Ask for the intercession of our Blessed Mother.
  • Set guidelines based on principles and stick to them.  The children will whine, moan, and beg but you have to be firm and not acquiesce.  The rule we follow is this: in matters of style, go with the flow.  In matters of principles, stand firm like a rock.

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If you liked this article, you might also like:

Book Review: Have a New Teenager by Friday!
Must Read for Young Adult Ministry: You Lost Me

6 thoughts on “How Families Raise their Teens: Interview with the Nguyen Family

  1. Hello Lucio,
    Thank you for sharing the Nguyen Family story. It is inspiring and exemplary in many ways. We do need to be cognizant of the many youngsters who are being exposed to excellent parenting even though they may or may not have both parents/caregivers present.

    Janet

  2. Thanks Janet for the compliment and feedback. Yes, single parents unfortunately have a tough job, so perhaps one of these days I can interview one of these exemplary parents so they can give encouragement and advice to others.

  3. Really lovely to hear about a family that are doing so well, however i dont agree with how these children are being bought up. But thats what parenting is all about, all families are unique and the way i bring up my children will be different to how someone else brings up theirs, it does not make me a bad parent, i just have different attitudes and beliefs. The Nguyen family seem to be affluent (swimming pool etc) a lot of parents have to bring up their children in very harsh environments, their parenting skills and boundaries may be very different.

  4. Hi Alison,
    Thank you very much for your feedback. Yes, I have also noticed that families have different ways of raising their children because there are so many circumstances that need to be taken into account. I think the principles still remain the same, and we can´t forget God´s own work and the teenagers´ own independence as they grow up. There are more examples I am hoping to post in the future. I want to write these because I see that what these families have been doing work, and because they may inspire others with new ideas, fresh perspectives, et cetera. Raising teens is always a challenge! Thank you also for the idea of posting good examples of families in difficult, and very hard, circumstances, whether in their neighborhood, or because of some tragedy, or et cetera. I am only posting an article once every 3 weeks to 1 month, so eventually I´ll get to it! God bless, and thanks for the feedback and reading!

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