6 Things Your Teen Really Needs From You
If this word strikes fear into your heart, you would be in good company. The teen years are often likened to toddlerhood all over again. As a parent of a teen and two tweens, I can see the parallels, but I haven’t had the experience that some speak of, which hasn’t just happened to occur. I am far from through these years, but I feel confident that taking an active role in the lives of my teens can only breed good things.
Establishing connections, traditions, and open lines of communication are all essential while they are growing up because when they become teens, these things are already in place. When they become teens, this often means you are staying up late…sometimes way late in order to make these connections. My teens and tweens tend to be up later just because their workload is heavier. Schoolwork, responsibilities around the house, sports, friends, and outside work keep them very busy.
Teenager-hood is such an important time, however, and your presence has never been more important. Just as you are so intentional when your kids are little, you need to be intentional with your teens, too.
So, what do our teens need from us? I have found the following six tips to be so very helpful:
- We need to pay attention. Pay attention to their moods and to the things they say as well as the things they don’t say. We have to read between the lines and be able to interpret the “morse code” of teenager speak as well as teenager moodiness…and yes, teen boys can be moody, too. We often need to be detectives in trying to piece together what our teens are up to, and an important ingredient to this is asking questions. Sometimes when they intend to deceive, they may be honest if specifically given the opportunity. Perhaps they were intending on withholding some “sketchy” behavior, but yet aren’t wanting to lie about it if directly asked. Therefore, ask lots of questions.
- Our teens need us to be persistent, especially when they are trying to push us away. Oftentimes this pushing means they want us to work harder…almost testing our love. “If you love me, how hard will you work to love me?” Or, “Will you still love me if I do this?!” Perhaps you have heard of being a student of your spouse? This applies here, too. Be a student of your teen. Learn, observe, and then learn some more.
- Our teens need us to be their unwavering support system. They need to know we believe in them. No matter what. We don’t have to agree with them nor do we have to accept their behavior in order to believe in who they are as a person. We all know these years are so hard from their perspective. They will question who they are, where they are going, and how their past fits in on what could be a daily basis. We need to be their constant, their anchor, and their window into the future. They need to be assured that we will love them no matter what. No.matter.what. How do we do this? We tell them. And then we tell them some more. Then, we show them by pursuing them. Date night, pedicures, baseball games…whatever it takes, we do as often as we can.
- Everyone is unique, and our teens need us to help them discover who they are. What are their talents? What are their passions? What are their weaknesses? Then, we need to encourage them in where they need to be going while steering them away from where they don’t belong. Whether they want to admit it or not, most times, our teens value our opinions.
- Teens need us to help them establish rules and boundaries. What should they and what should they not accept from others. I wrote a post about this here. Sometimes we need to talk through things behind the scenes and send them on their way to carve their own path, and at times, our teens need us to go to battle for them when the stakes are too high. For instance, defending our teens, or our children of any age, against an adult. Other parents or adults who misjudge, misinterpret, or misunderstand our kids need to be dealt with by us, their parent. Kids of any age need to know that we have their back…always. Again, we are not going to defend or condone misbehavior of any kind, but in terms of wrong treatment and mistreatment, they must know we will always be on their side.
- I saved the best for last. We need to cover our teens in prayer, and they need to know that we do. We need to tell them specifically when we pray for them, we need to pray with them, and we need to pray over them. I pray over my kids when they have an audition or some sort of activity or event that is important to them or is something that has caused them stress or worry. Then, they need to know that when their big event is occurring, we will be praying them through. Does it guarantee an outcome? No. In doing these things, can we say we have done everything we can possibly do to set them up to succeed? Yes. This always calms my kids, whether or not they even realize it.
Teens need special care, which can be so counterintuitive at times as they can sometimes be so hard to love. But, being intentional with your teens can make all the difference in their lives now, and in their lives in the future. Don’t let the teen years scare you or overwhelm you. Just take one step at a time, grab some of these tips or all of these tips, and enjoy your teen.
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