The words communication and teenagers may cause you to feel stumped and frustrated. Has an alien invaded your child’s body and you are wondering where your happy kid has disappeared to? Did a miserable, moody, gangly person show up in their place? Every mother has been where you are now, with your teenager. With a few communication tips, you can build a relationship that will survive these often, stressful and confusing years. Parenting help is on the way!
Welcome to the teenage years
I raised five teens. Thankfully, I still have all my hair intact, although it did turn grey during this time. Mom, if you survive the next five years, bravo to you! When you get to heaven, there is a new Ford Mustang (sorry Chevy lovers), mounds of chocolate and a bubble bath waiting for you.
I enjoyed the teenage years, I really did, but now that my kids are adults, I love this stage even more. Parent’s worries increase during these crucial years. They often feel at odds about keeping the child/parent connection with their child.
Every teenager goes through the grumpy, hormonal stage. I mean EVERY. If parents tell you their children were cheerful through grades 8-12, they’re lying to you, or they drugged their kid. We all lose a bit of our sanity during these years. Quickly forgetting that we also put our own mother and father through this crash course in parenting.
Signs your child’s been kidnapped and replaced with a new weird teen
- They walk in the door from school and go directly to their room.
- They begin to smell and need a shower, and a new change of clothes each day.
- Their eyes roll back in their head whenever your mouth is moving.
- They grunt or give you one-word answers.
- They sleep in on Saturdays and cannot be woken unless you put a $20 bill under their nose.
- Their cell phone and eyeballs are never more than three feet from each other.
- Smiling is no longer cool.
- Their limbs strategically quit working, especially when asked to pick up socks, shoes, coats or school books.
All joking aside, these are attributes some of our kids had as teenagers. I am happy to say they have grown out of most of them, except ‘picking things up’ which their mother is also guilty of doing.
As a young adult, I found it easy to connect with teenagers and led a youth group of 40-50 teens on my own. I had two children at the time who were under the age of three. I assumed the teenage years were going to be a breeze and I was really looking forward to the day my kids hit this ‘fun’ age.
Boy, was I nieve!
Somehow, my husband Vance and I made it through with God’s grace and a whole lot of praying and sleepless nights. But we learned some valuable lessons along the way while raising four teenagers at once. I would love to share them with you.
How you can build a healthy relationship with your child
- Be their sounding board – After school have a “you can tell me anything session” and let them jabber without correcting them. Have lots of cookies on hand as they confide in you, and just listen. Talk to them about your concerns later when you’ve had time to think clearly.
- Respect their privacy – Never read your child’s diary or journal. Always knock before entering their bedroom. These both show you respect your child and it will be reciprocated.
- Trust your teen – Give your child your full trust, and tell them you trust them unless they prove otherwise. If they mess up, wipe the slate clean and try again. Everyone deserves a second chance.
- Be their cheerleader – As much as possible attend their sports, musical events or high school functions, and cheer them on. I learned a valuable lesson: I was angry with one of my kids after they mistreated their teammates and that child didn’t want me to watch their games anymore. A simple, “Treat your teammates with respect would have been sufficient.” I learned to be their cheerleader instead of their critique.
- Give up the nagging – Kids don’t like being nagged, and it causes them to pull away from us. If we train our kids to only respond when we have nagged them ten times, it’s our own fault. Let their choices and the consequences of them be their discipline whenever it’s possible. Ask once, then always have a result you implement if they don’t comply.
- Private discipline only – Correcting your teen in front of their friends is humiliating and will cause them to stop bringing friends home. Wait till you have them alone, then gently point out what they could do the next time differently. Never punish or manipulate your child by posting their indiscretions on social media( I promise you this will cause your kids to resent you.)
- Remain calm, cool and collected –If your child confesses something to you like cheating on a test and you go off the deep end, they will not come to you over the BIG stuff like drugs, alcohol, and sex. Offer forgiveness and understanding, quickly. That doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences to their actions. A parent who doesn’t explode like a lunatic will become their cherished counselor.
- Give up the guilt tripping – Nobody likes a lecture, ever. Keep your advice short and to the point without guilt. Explain your concern and then help them see how their decision affected them or someone else. Encourage your teen to always chose a better path the next time they face temptation.
- Apologize often – When you are wrong, say you are sorry EVERY TIME! I promise you this is humbling, but a relationship-building-tool you will not regret.
- Have fun with your teen – This is probably the most important one. Building a fun and loving relationship with your child is crucial to your future connection with them. It also counterbalances all the times we have to discipline them. (Watch movies together. Play their favorite sport together. Let them talk to you about the boys/girl they like. Listen to their music, even if it gives you a headache.) Having fun counterbalances the times you need to discipline your teen and softens the words of correction when spoken.
Communication and teenagers can go hand in hand. You need to have patience and a few tools in your back pocket to help you succeed. We failed in our parenting many times, and you will fail also. Give yourself grace and try again when you mess up.
When I was nagging my teens about cleaning their rooms, my husband and I had a chat due to my frustration. Read Battle of a Lifetime and learn how we solved a communication problem, CLICK HERE.
You may be thinking your teenager is going to be laying on the side of the road one day with no job, no goals and no vision. The teen years are ruled by their hormones, peer pressure and media. The grumpy person they are today is far from who they will be when they are thirty. Your child will build character, strength, and empathy between now and then by watching your example. Don’t focus too much on their current attitude and faults, since it will change with maturity and life experience.
Teenagers will model after the people they admire the most. If you are compassionate, hardworking, and have a close relationship with them, there is a good possibility they will want to be just like you. Be the person they inspire to become one day.
Pray for your child daily and ask God to help you build a healthy, trusting, fun, and balanced relationship with your teenager…
God might surprise you and cause you to cherish the teen-years💗
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3: 12-14
Believing and hoping,
Would you like some additional help with communication and teenagers? CLICK HERE to take a free parenting assessment
*Our four younger children no longer live at home and are working, paying bills, and are responsible citizens who love Jesus. We are still working on the ‘picking up the socks’ part, mom included. Our oldest son, Kyle, has autism and we are permanently in a mix of toddler/teen stage with him, but love him to pieces.