Ahh, the teenage years…traditionally, the time when that once cute and cuddly and sweet child that you birthed turns into a….well, turns into a…well, you probably know what I mean, right?! 😉
Now, I’m gonna give a bit of disclosure here that I’m NOT a PhD. I’m not in clinical practice, and other than some psychology classes I had in college while studying to be a Music Therapist (woot woot!!) way back in the dark ages, I’m not a “trained professional” of any sort!
We have 5 children: 2 adults, 2 teens and 1 standing on the precipice of the teenage years. And when I add Candy’s experience (whom I consulted for this article) you can add 2 more adult children and 2 more teens! 😉
So today I’ll be sharing from our experience, friends!
This post actually originated from an inquiry we received and posted on FB:
Whew – let me tell you, replying to that one is a little scary, but my heart goes out to her.
Rather than make this a “one approach vs the other”…
let me just share my thoughts.
Nobody can argue that the teen years aren’t turbulent. Changing emotions, crazy hormones and newly-developing body parts all contribute to personalities who don’t know whether they’re coming or going…and that’s just the parents!
Added to that, our culture doesn’t entirely provide clear milestones to adulthood, or should I say healthy ones, for our teens. Although one’s first beer, first dance, newly-acquired license, first car, first date, etc. may provide opportunities to behave responsibly, the settings in which they often occur neither emphasize nor encourage the same.
With all those mixed messages, no wonder our teens check out!
I think engaging with our teens is something that happens when they’re children. Think about it… If mom or dad isn’t really willing to pay much attention to a board game or time on the swing set…if the child’s questions are deemed silly or, worse, not addressed at all…if parents are not a safe haven for information and encouragement from the get-go, why should they start running to us when the going really gets rough?
But I don’t think that’s the scenario this reader is describing. It’s more a question of “What happens when a good parent seems to lose a grip on the child they played with, loved and cared for as a youngster?” Or, “How do I handle it when the bonds that seemed strong and secure appear to dissolve with the advent of adolescence?” Or even, “When parent and child don’t seem to have anything at all in common anymore…is all lost?”
And holding on during these turbulent times is something that parents, including myself, often find difficult! But yes, you CAN!
Try to look for practical ways to bless your teen. And though they may be a bit awkward or uncomfortable to you, make sure they’re ways that speak to him or her. I’m often telling our children when they have a difficult situation to deal with, or going through a rough time, to remember that “this, too, shall pass.” Yes, it may sometimes be heard as trite and superficial, but it is also a time-tested truth that has gotten me through some pretty dark moments.
It’s important, however, to remember that what we’re talking about here is not an outrightly rebellious teen, not someone who is seriously into dangerous and/or illegal activity. We’re referring to teens who may have temporarily lost their way; teens who are searching and seeking to discover what kind of adult they will be…what kind of man or woman is developing emotionally and psychologically inside, as they’re also growing up physically outside.
Two books that I have found especially helpful for this topic are Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Ted Tripp, and The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers New Edition: The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively, by Gary Chapman. Full of practical advice and easy-to-read, I had either one of these books on my bedside table for years. (Disclaimer: I didn’t read the New Edition of the Love Languages book…I read this edition, which was fantastic in and of itself, so I’d imagine the new one is even better!)
Of course, everyone and every situation is different, but I do know one thing: God covers it all... Click To Tweet
Nevertheless, if you find yourself dealing with a more-than-reluctant teen, or there are serious issues going on at home, I’d encourage you to find serious help. We were not made to live alone, and often good, Christian counseling can help us get through difficult situations.
I often joke about how the teen years helped keep me on my knees (which, by the way, isn’t a horrible place to be!). As my older 2 have left this season, I have 3 others already there or headed there… Guess you know where I’ll be in the foreseeable future…
So those are my thoughts…and some from a few wise Facebook friends…
What about your experience? How have you created connections with the teen/s in your life? We’d love to hear from you! 🙂