Keeping the Heart of My Teenager
Updated: Dec 5, 2019
The teen years are often very difficult relationally both for the parent as well as the teen. Hormones make brains very illogical (think PMS and you’ll know what I mean). In fact, I say teens have “teenmentia”, a form of early Alzheimer’s. In fact, I believe if scientists would study teen brain chemistry as it changes back into adult sanity and logic they would find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Nevertheless keeping the heart not the brain of your teen is essential for their life and your lifelong relationship.
Listening is your foremost tool. When your child is haranguing you sit with pen and paper and write the points they are trying to make. Ask if these are the points and if you understand correctly. That may shock them to silence. They may even sit down themselves. Ask yourself what are the principles of life I am concerned about here such as safety, purity, health, enduring happiness, pleasing Jesus, etc. Point out the ones that apply and ask if the teen thinks these are important. Then how can we ensure these for you together? That will start negotiations for the same goal without a strong argument. Make sure you are hearing their heart desire and needs. And ask if you got it right. Going to a party may not be as much of the need as is feeling that they belong. Can you find a better way together to meet that need?
Another tool is setting a habit of praying at bedtime with them. Go into their room, turn out the light, sit near them at a closeness they are comfortable with and talk and pray in whispers. Ask about what’s on their heart that you can be praying for each day. I have found that teens who won’t share any other time of the day will soon open up their hearts in this type of atmosphere. Be sure to keep their secrets safe from everyone but your spouse. Pray about concerns with your spouse. Build a team there for the sake of your child.
A third issue is establishing authority and boundaries but also respecting your growing adult. This is a tough dance with many steps. Involving your teen with planning their growth in adult responsibilities is vital. The use of my book, “The Four Seasons of Fruitful Parenting” can be beneficial. Go through the checklist at the end of seasons 1,2, and 3 and have them grade themselves in each area. Then develop projects together that they can do to pass the seasons so they are prepared for adulthood. If they see you trying to get them to adulthood instead of thinking you are keeping them your “little baby” they will be willing to get on the team and work together. Teach them that children make decisions that only benefit themselves. Adults make decisions that benefit everyone in the family. Adulthood can be attained at any age this way. Now the teen years actually become fun as your teen matures into an adult that makes you proud.