I sat my 15 year old daughter down a few weeks ago and asked her what she thought teens might want their parents to know. It was a very insightful conversation so I asked her if I could jot down her thoughts and share them with other parents of teens. She agreed and so without further ado, here is her take on what a teenager wants their parents to know.
What your teen wants you to know
- Be open to talking with us about anything otherwise we will look to friends or the internet to get our answers. This means we need to feel like we can talk to you without you judging us, asking us a ton of questions or putting our questions off for another time.
- Please remember that how we turn out is not a direct reflection of your parenting. If we fail at something, make a huge mistake or fall down we want you to be there for us. What we don’t need is to have you feel guilty for failing us as a parent. Support us, encourage us, give us guidance on how to right our wrong but please don’t take our failures personally.
- Don’t put so much pressure on us… for academics or for our future! The more pressure you put on us, the more stressed out we get. Think of this analogy. Coal needs pressure to turn it into a diamond. A diamond in the rough needs a little help cutting away the rough edges and shining up the good points. Think of us as diamonds in the rough and not as coal…. too much pressure will crush us but some help cutting away our rough qualities and shining up and encouraging us in our good qualities will help us become the diamond God intended us to be.
- Do not force us to be good Christians. We need to discover God on our own and the best way for that to happen is for us to see a good example of faith in Christ modeled for us by you. If you force us to be good Christians (outward obedience) then we will be good to please you and keep you off of our backs and then we’ll walk away once we are on our own.
What this mom of a teen has learned
- Prayer is so important! I quickly forget, in the busyness of life, how important praying for my teenager and praying with her really is. An area I need to keep working on!
- Admitting to my teenager my own faults and failures helps her see me as a real, sinful person in need of a Savior just like her. It opens up the playing field and makes it easier for her to talk with me about issues she is struggling with. She knows I won’t judge her because I struggle with sin as well.
- It is important to make sure I have time to listen to my teen. I can fill my life up with lots of activities and easily neglect making time to listen to my kids. Talking with them while making dinner or watching television is great but it isn’t enough. My teen needs my undivided attention on a regular basis. I try to make myself available in the evenings (after the younger kids are in bed) for her to talk with me if she needs to.
- I try to distinguish between God’s laws and our own house rules. God’s laws are non-negotiable and apply even when my teen leaves home. Our family rules are negotiable and while we ask that she abide by them while at home, she is free to prayerfully make her own rules when she moves out. (Example of God’s law: Sex outside of marriage is wrong. Example of a family rule: no tattoos.)
- Resting in the knowledge that God is the one who gives salvation and works in my kids to make them more like Christ….not me! It is wonderful to be a part of what God is doing in my teen’s life but I must not bare the weight of my teen’s soul on my own shoulders. God is in control!
Do you have a teenager? Do you remember being a teenager yourself? Any other ideas of what a parent should keep in mind when raising their teen? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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