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Making Your Relationship with Your Teen a Priority

by Mark Gregston

My foray into the world of teens came as a result of working for a ministry that focused primarily on teens—and having relationships with them.  It was interesting to me as I moved on to work with other ministries over the years, that complaints would come in that I was too heavily focused on developing relationships, and not heavy enough in developing spiritual rituals.  Fast-forward forty years later, and we’ve come to understand that relationships are the foundation for everything.  Recall what the apostle Paul said: We were ready to share with you not only the Gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.  And we’ve found out that one of the most important things we can do is to cultivate an authentic relationship with our kids. 

So, pause for a moment and take stock of your relationship with your teen right now.  Is it on the right track?  Or have you and your child wandered down a path leaving you unsure of how you got there, or even how you can get back?  It doesn’t matter whether your relationship is in crisis or calm, there’s always room for growth and improvement, and here are a few bits of wisdom that will help you and your teen as you travel down the road of life together. 

The Most Important Relationships 

In the pursuit of doing what we think is important we sometimes miss out on what’s most valuable—investing time in our kids’ lives.  It’s the same things that God wants with us because it’s through this relationship and our relationships with others that we have the opportunity to not only share the words of the Gospel with others, but also to show the Gospel being lived out in a comforting and safe way to a hurting and sometimes disbelieving world. 

God placed you in your child’s life because you have the opportunity to speak truth in their lives when they need it the most.  All too often, the tendency for us as parents is that as our children grow up and become more independent, we leave them alone.  So, they ultimately feel like loners, and they go off and start having other relationships, and doing other things that distract them from the good path they’ve been on in order to fill the void in their life. 

We all long for relationships, it’s how God made us, and teens are no different. But they are going to rebuff you, it’s just who they are at this age.  They will tell you they hate you, they will roll their eyes at you, they will talk back to you.  But you can’t give up.  We are children of the King, and He has transferred His capacity to love on to us, so if you give it enough time, the love of God will pour out of us and into their lives. 

It’s been said that rules without relationship will lead to rebellion.  But conversely the flip side of that coin is true, as well.  Relationship without rules leads to chaos.  Being a parent, or the one in authority, requires balance and maybe a bit of an engineering degree in building.  But you can do this because God has modeled the plan, and relationships with His children are important to Him. 

Who Needs to Change? 

When it comes to relationships, there’s only one person you can change—that’s right, you.  And to help facilitate change in your home, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Do I provoke my teen? 
  • Do I have an anger problem? 
  • Am I training my teen to be a successful adult? 
  • Have I communicated that anything and everything else in my life is more important than my relationship with my teen? 
  • Am I critical? Or sarcastic? 
  • Do I like to talk or do I like to listen to what my teen has to say? 

Today’s teens are getting shortchanged in the relationship department by social media and it’s becoming more difficult to develop good, long-lasting relationships.  And that’s why it’s so imperative that the positive changes start with you. 

It can be difficult to have those discussions about the issues plaguing your teens when you haven’t mastered the issues yourself, so if you find yourself struggling with any of these areas, seek wise, godly counsel from a trusted friend.  When you do, you’ll make the appropriate changes that will help you and your teen become the best that they can be! 


Mom, Dad … I can’t say this enough, you are the most important relationship that your teen will have in their life.  As they get busier and the demands on their life increase, you must work even harder to ensure your place in their life.  If you’re like me, it’s easy to get busy.  But if you’re too busy, you’ll ask yourself one day, where did the time go?  If you don’t spend time with your teen, it will pass before your eyes, and you’ll one day regret not pouring more of yourself into their life.  And if you’re not pouring yourself into them, someone else will.  Your teen will never get from someone else, what they can only get from you.  God has placed you in their life for a reason, and that reason can only be found in a relationship with them. 

Author: Mark Gregston

Mark Gregston began working with teens more than 40 years ago as a youth minister and Young Life director. He has authored nearly two dozen books, has written hundreds of articles, and is host of the nationally-acclaimed Parenting Today’s Teens podcast and radio broadcast.