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How To Win Your Reluctant Teen’s Heart

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?! 😉

"What happens when a good parent seems to lose a grip on the child they played with, loved and cared for as a youngster?" "How do I handle it when the bonds that seemed strong and secure appear to dissolve with the advent of adolescence? When parent and child don't seem to have anything at all in common anymore...is all lost? All good question! When adolescence strikes, there's only one thing a parent CAN do...

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?”

What is a parent to do during the teen years? Hold on! Click To Tweet

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!)

Shepherding A Child's HeartShepherding A Child’s HeartThe 5 Love Languages of TeenagersThe 5 Love Languages of Teenagers

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 still 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! 🙂


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Pat is a Yankee city-girl who has been adopted by the sleepy, sunny south. Married for 30 years and the mother of 5, she woke up one day recently to discover she reached the stage of life where she is the “older woman” described in Titus 2:3-5. A coffee lover, the purchase of a coffee shop a few years ago was her personal foray into the small, family-owned business arena.Today, PatAndCandy.com is her outlet for packaging up and sharing the nuggets of wisdom God and life experiences have taught her.
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6 Responses to How To Win Your Reluctant Teen’s Heart

  1. Sarah Geringer August 16, 2017 at 11:08 am #

    Hello, I just found your blog today through the #messymarriage linkup. I have three children, and the oldest is 13. I’m looking for ways to engage him and bless him, and since his primary love language is quality time, I try to focus on that. Thanks for the encouragement here and in your linked “8 Ways to Bless” post!

    • Pat August 16, 2017 at 12:20 pm #

      You’re most welcome, Sarah! Always happy to meet new friends 🙂 I’m really fortunate to have good relationships with my teens…despite the inevitable rough patches. I’ve learned a lot about slowing down over the years for my wonderful son who also has a love language of quality time. I’ve never been disappointed, and am always glad I learned how to stay focused.
      I’m sure you’ll be blessed, too!!

  2. Beth August 9, 2017 at 10:25 am #

    I’ve heard good things about Tripp’s book and of course, Gary Chapman knows his stuff! So I think these are great resources, Pat. I love your humor and humility in responding to this woman’s concerns too. With teenagers it’s always so hard to know how to handle it. My oldest pushed back when I tried to pursue more times of connecting with him when he was at college. But then told me just last year that he wanted me to keep on pursuing–even though he was saying, “Back off, mom!” Lol!

    • Pat August 9, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

      They sure are Beth…lots of wisdom that got me out of more than one “sticky situation” over the years! That’s funny-not-funny about your son. But interestingly enough, I totally get it!

      Happy to see you’re “back”…looking forward to a great year!
      Pat recently posted…Homeschool Freedom Friday – …while moving to a new homeMy Profile

  3. GoMama247 August 1, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

    I agree managing teens is much harder. We have to understand that they are grown up now and we should treat them right. Nice article.
    GoMama247 recently posted…Unique Baby Names According to RashiMy Profile

    • Pat August 1, 2017 at 9:07 pm #

      Thanks! I think the best way to teach them how to teach others is to model it… I’ve heard – and it’s been my experience – that more is caught than taught…

      Have a great week!
      Pat recently posted…How To Win Your Reluctant Teen’s HeartMy Profile

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