When I watch TV and see how teenagers relate to their parents it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
I cannot relate.
When I hear parents talk about how they don’t know their teenagers, I am shocked.
I cannot relate.
When I hear comments about parents having little or no usable influence over their kids, I am saddened.
I cannot relate.
I have an awesome relationship with both of my kids. I never let them “not” talk to me. Nope. I use EVERY opportunity I can to engage, teach and listen to them. I have parented very differently it seems. I am VERY involved. I believe when the Word tells us to “train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart from it”, the intention was to take it literally.
I went to Dictionary.com and found the meaning of the word “train” as it is used in the Scripture.
- to develop or form the habits, thoughts, or behavior of (a child or other person) by discipline and instruction.
- to make proficient by instruction and practice, as in some art, profession, or work.
I also found it interesting that the antonym (opposite) of train is forget and neglect. WOW!
Our time, effort, time, consistency, oh and TIME is required. You see, we are training them to be well rounded, disciplined adults who have learned respect, love, obedience and trust. If they are trained and taught those things, they will not only WANT to communicate with us, they will become our closest friends in adulthood. That should be our goal. To parent well so we and others can have healthy adult relationships with them later.
Even if you currently have a poor relationship with your teenager. Start now. Make effort. It is never too late. I REALLY believe you CAN have a great relationship with your teenager(s), and a rewarding adult one in the years to come.
Tips to Build a Healthy Relationship with your Teenager
1. Listen. If you never allow them to share their thoughts (even irrational ones), they will never develop trust. Listen to them and VALUE what they have to say. Use proper communication skills. Look them in the eye. Be a part of the conversation. This will require TIME.
2. Be HONEST. Do not hold back. TELL them your failures and bad choices! Why hide it? They will respect you for it and it will help them not make the same blunders.
3. Engage them in conversation. Ask them open ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer.
Example: instead of asking “Did you have a good day at school”, be specific. Ask, “What did you do at school today?” That simple wording adjustment will allow the opportunity for more than a yes or no “grunt” reply! LOL!
It is important that you ask them about their lives. It is important that you make them communicate with you. However, if you are not building a “relationship” with them, this will be difficult. Number 1 and 2 are great starts to build on.
4. Take every opportunity to train.
Example: After almost every movie I watch with my teenager we talk about the movie. It does not matter if it was a risky movie or clean cut. We always talk about it. However, I ALWAYS start with what SHE thought of the movie. Then, after I have heard her thoughts, I ask questions that make her look at the moral and ethical sides of the film, and then I listen. As I listen, I engage her in further conversation on the subject. I will ask thought provoking questions that make her think on a deeper level. Then, after she feels valued and knows I respect her and her views, I share mine. Now, she is more open to hear my thoughts.
This can be used in many aspects of your teenagers life. Both controversial type topics and every day life. EVERY aspect of life can be a training opportunity. Examples of training/engaging opportunities: school topics, sports, relationships, Biblical views, how they dress, views of others, etc.
5. Demand respect. This is tricky. You must first give a form of respect in order to gain it. Yes, theoretically, our children should respect us without question. However, as they grow closer to adulthood, they begin to have their own thoughts, convictions and feelings. It is impossible to expect a teenager to respect you from the HEART, if they do not also feel respected on some level. If they are disregarded, ignored, opinions ridiculed and unable to express themselves, they will not become adults that are able to GIVE respect. They will have NO respect for authority in their lives. They will be angry and unreliable adults.
Note on Respect: As Christian Mothers, we must walk the walk before them. They must SEE us make right choices, refrain from bad ones, pray and read the Word. If we tell them to live one way and we are living another, not only will we lose all respect, they will not be strong in their faith. Walk it out before them and when you fail, admit it, get up and try again. Allow them the privilege of SEEING it. Never assume they will become adults who follow God, if you are not a living example for them.
Consistent discipline is also vital in developing proper respect habits in your children.
6. Time Time Time. You MUST spend one on one quality time with your children. TIME is vital. It speaks volumes to our kids. We need to be at every game, function and event that is humanly possible. However, we also need to spend one on one time with them on a regular basis. After Daddy God and our husbands, there is NOTHING more important than our children. Time is a language that EVERYONE understands. It says; I love you, I value you and I enjoy being with you.
7. Get to know them. This goes hand in hand with time. Do what they enjoy. If they like sports, try and do something in that realm with them. If they enjoy reading, try reading a series together and then you will have something to talk about. My daughter LOVES to read. So, I read Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers with her, and we had many great conversations about it. We still refer to characters in the book from time to time. Of course, she whipped through each book faster. LOL! But, I made sure I read and got through it as quick as I could, so we were “together”.
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6
Take the TIME to train up your children and get to KNOW them. You will not regret it. If you are truly blessed, you will have well rounded adult children that become your closest friends in life and never lack in relationships with your future grandchildren! Who, if you did your job (to the best of your ability), are certain to be trained up properly as well!
Copyright © Lara Velez, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved
Gary Sinclair says
Thanks for a great article on spending time with your kids. As a dad I found a very memorable way to have teen time was to climb a mountain or two with each of my kids. It was challenging, unique and something they were likely never to forget. I ended up doing 4 with my son and three with my daughter. Now other parents might not choose mountains but I encourage both moms and dads to consider what “mountaintop” experiences they can include during the parenting years especially with their teens. Keep writing and keep climbing!
Liz Sacks says
This really made me think. I have a 4 year old who is already showing signs of disrespect, and this article really made me think about how I act, am I worthy of her respect? Am I setting a good example? It challenged me, and I do believe I could set a much better example. I hope and pray that God blesses my daughter and I with the relationship it seems you share with your children. I am so glad I read this article. Thank you for writing it.