A worried parent of a stressed-out teen asked me this: How can I help my daughter to relax at home when she is becoming increasingly overwhelmed by fear and anxiety at the state of the world? I hear this all the time from parents. Kids today face pressure, discouragement, and more. And whether they’re doing homework or just hanging out on social media, they need a peaceful place to relax and recharge. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” I wonder if your teen would say she feels that kind of peace in your home. In this article, you’ll discover some ways you can make your home that restful place.
A Welcoming and Imperfect Setting
Your home doesn’t have to be perfectly put together all the time in order to be a welcoming environment. In fact, your teen needs to know it’s okay to be a mess and fall apart sometimes. Ask yourself: If my home is an extension of who I am, then what is it communicating to my kids? Are you sending a message that they have to have their lives, and their rooms, tidied up in order to spend time with you? Or do you signal that you, and your home, are a safe harbor where kids be less than perfect?
If ever teenagers needed a place of rest, it is now. To avoid creating an anxious and depressed generation, we need to offer our kids respite from the world. Start by creating a space where your teen feels wanted and hopeful. Care about the condition of your teen’s heart, more than the condition of his room!
Build an Inviting Atmosphere With Your Attitude
There’s more that goes into creating a place of rest, beyond the four walls of your home. While the setting is all about your home’s physical space, the atmosphere is about you. You control the atmosphere of your home and the way you treat your teen matters. I guarantee, it won’t be long before your teen leaves home to head out into the world. So, use this precious time to create an atmosphere where your teens know they are safe, they can be themselves, and they can make mistakes without being shamed. Let your teen know he can share any concern or frustration he’s facing with you, by developing a real relationship with your teen.
Stick to Your Rules
You’ve probably heard it said that rules without relationship create rebellion; and it’s also true that relationship without rules causes chaos. No one wants that! Creating a restful place doesn’t mean there are no rules. I believe you can create boundaries and limits that allow every member of the family to function within a relational environment. Your teens needs to understand what is allowed and not allowed in your home. When expectations are clearly stated, they can be correctly met.
Try to Spark Good Conversations
Finally, allow your home to be a place where you and your teen have authentic conversations that reveal the messiness of life—yours and theirs. I encourage you to share your personal stories of struggle, failure, disappointment, and hardship. Don’t hide these from your teen. Your imperfect conversations open the door for your teen to talk about her own imperfections. The stories of your challenges and how you have dealt with and overcome them, affirms that there is hope for your teen to achieve success. And remember when you talk to your teen, be ready to laugh, have fun, listen, and put the focus on them.
Hey moms and dads … your teens are looking for a safe harbor amidst the storms where they can refuel and be understood. They’re looking for a place of rest, a place where they can recharge, and a place where they can be genuine and authentic, a place where they can take a break from the craziness of a culture that seems bent on destroying the very principles and values that we embrace. I hope they can find it in your home.
The rules and expectations that you have set in their pre-teen years worked well and got you to where you are now, but if you don’t relax on the rules and expectations, then your teens will never be able to relax. And if they can’t relax at home, then they’ll find other ways to get away from it all and unwind. Everyone needs a break—and maybe it’s time you give your teens one.