Are you spending enough time with your teens? I mean real quality time? Or are you passing each other in the house quietly or sitting in the same room and looking at your devices (iPad, iPhone, Galaxy, Samsung, etc.)? Are you missing opportunities to connect, even if it’s on a 5 minute drive to and from school? This lack of connection, moments that pass by day after day, will drive a wedge between you and your teen if you aren’t careful.
If you want to improve the quality of your relationships with your teens, focus on them when they are around and stop multi-tasking. Put down the phone, turn away from your laptop, turn the heat off on the stove, turn off the TV, and look them in the eyes. They need to know you are there and sometimes it’s in the moments of quite when they have your undivided attention that they finally open up. If you have a difficult relationship with your teen, it’s probably because you haven’t been connecting for quite some time.
A counselor once told me that the issue that most teens have boils down to three simple paradigms that they have about their parents.
- You don’t understand them.
- You don’t love them.
- They are smarter than you.
So, how do you break these paradigms? You must begin by being physically present. Not digitally. Not virtually. Stop texting each other and call instead. To help them understand that you do understand, you must listen to them (without judgment, just listen, ask questions, probe, diagnose what they say, pay attention to how they say it, and what they really mean). Make the time to love your teen face to face, express your love, take the high road, teach them God’s word. Be their parent. Give them your full attention. Eventually through this strengthen relationship, they will figure out that they aren’t smarter than you.
“Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.” 2 John 1:12 KJV