Parents in trouble with their teen call me when they are in pain and need help, but I’ve learned that many are just looking for an affirmation or justification of their own plan or ideas. Sadly, most people only accept advice when they agree with it, when it fits into their own time schedule, and when the outcome is what they predicted.
Confession time; I love my smart phone. I check my e-mail, read books, listen to music, store my photos, and navigate directions. I can also use this handy device to talk to people, but that is almost a secondary function on this type of phone. The technology in this tool can be wonderfully useful. With all the information and functionality at our fingertips, we live in a world far different than the one we grew up in.
If pain were knocking on your door, you wouldn’t welcome him, invite him in, or help him in any way. You would send him to the next neighborhood, reassuring him that he was at the wrong address.
Every parent of a teenager wants to build a strong line of communication with his or her teen. But sadly, the opposite is most often true. I’d like to share with you some simple tips to improve your communications with your teen.
When a teenager’s behavior is way out of line, when he or she crosses established boundaries and offends us and makes us angry, it is easy to think he or she doesn’t deserve grace. But that may be exactly the right time to give it.
It’s been said that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. And teens? Well, they seem to be from a completely different universe! Sure, teenagers look human, but the way they speak, the way they dress, and the things they value all seem to point to an origin in a galaxy far, far away.
I have never heard a mom publicly announce, “I want my daughter to be perfect,” and I have never heard a dad audibly declare, “I want to force my authority on my son.” And, I’ve never heard parents say, “We want to be judgmental parents.” For I’ve heard hundreds of daughters say, “My mom wants me to be perfect.” And I’ve heard an equal number of sons say, “My dad rules our home with an iron fist.” And I’ve heard thousands of kids say, “My parents are the most judgmental people I know.” Somewhere between our intent and our execution, those can be the very desires we communicate to our kids.
Trust is a valuable and fragile commodity. In the economy of family relationships, trust is both given and received as parents and teens gingerly pass it back and forth. When these trust transactions are handled properly, relationships grow and thrive. But Mom and Dad—don’t hold on to that commodity too tightly, because your teenage son or daughter will break it. It’s really not a question of “if,” it’s a question of “when.” At some point, you’ll place your trust in the hands of your teenage child, and they’ll drop it and shatter it into pieces.