5 Responses to a Teen Who Pushes You Away

You and your teen may sleep under the same roof. But some days, it feels like you’re living worlds apart. So, how can you reconnect with a distant teen? In this article, I’ll outline five healthy responses to teens who constantly push their parents away.

1. Work Hard to Understand What They’re Going Through

Your teen is pushing you away for a reason. So to start understanding why, you might just want to ask the obvious question: “What’s behind your anger/distance?” Understanding your teen’s world and having empathy will help soften his heart and draw you closer together. Keep in mind that your teen is geared toward independence, so some space is normal. Or it could be that your teen is tired of being around you all the time and just needs a break. Or maybe he is making poor choices and doesn’t want to be judged by you. Whatever is creating the gap, it’s your role as the parent to find out and stay connected.

2. Check How Much You Correct Your Teen… You Might Need to Back Off

Do you demand perfection? Are you correcting your teen all the time? If so, it’s no surprise that they don’t want to be in the same space as you. Your teen needs to hear encouraging words from you in order to feel safe and valued. Constant correction only causes teens to check out. There are also serious opportunity costs to spending all your time correcting your teen: it leaves no time to get to know each other, spend time together, or build a stronger relationship. So back off, show some grace, and get to know your teen again.

3. Speak Your Love to Them in a Way They Understand

Your teens needs to know that you love them in order to connect with you. It’s possible that you’re telling your teen you love her, but she doesn’t hear it, because she’s wired differently. Learn her language and speak it. Be creative and try different ways to let her know how much you love her. And when your teen does finally come around, don’t brush him off or make him wait for a more convenient time to talk to you. Pay attention to the one who’s right there, before they are gone for good. 

4. Ask Tough Questions and Really Pay Attention to the Answers

Most parents are afraid to ask the hard and uncomfortable questions because they may not like the answers. But ask anyway. Be direct and ask your teen: “What am I doing that is keeping us from connecting?” If your teen gives you an answer you don’t like, or don’t agree with, that’s okay. You don’t have to immediately fix your teen, just LISTEN! You don’t need to correct his response. Instead ask more questions and listen carefully to the answers, and learn why he thinks the way he does. Then deal with the heart of the matter.

5. Keep Pursuing Your Teen, Even When They Act Like They Want Nothing to Do With You

You need to be willing to invest your time and make changes in your schedule in order to build back trust. Your relationship with your child is worth the time and effort to chase after him. Don’t wait for your teen to pursue you! That’s not his role. That’s your job. Your teen needs to know that no matter what they do, you will still love him. There may be consequences for his behavior and challenges ahead, but don’t stop loving your teen. Pursue your teen, just like God goes after the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost child.

If your teen doesn’t respond to these actions and what you’re doing isn’t working, you may need outside help––someone to bridge the gap and intervene between you and your child. Remember at all times to take your cares to the Lord, who says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”


Hey moms and dads … if your teen is pushing you away, they’re doing so for a reason. One of the greatest challenges of parenting is trying to understand why that teen who has been given so much, is walking away from the ones that love them the most. You want to know the truth? It’s probably something you’re doing that doesn’t settle well with them. Or it’s something that you’re not doing that they would love to have as a part of your relationship. Your job is to figure out which one it is, to put them first, and make the change in the only one that you can really change––and that’s you! It’s saying this: “Lord, search me. Give me a test. Know my anxious thoughts. See if there’s any hurtful way in me.” This is about connecting and reconnecting, and you have to take the first step toward your teen. It’s called grace.

When Your Teen Disrespects Authority

Disrespect is one of the biggest issues plaguing families with teens today. Yet many parents struggle to figure out how to nip this destructive behavior in the bud. In this article, I’ll identify helpful ways to correct disrespect at home—and harmful reactions that only make it worse!

What Might Your Teen Be Communicating with His Disrespect?

Why is my child acting disrespectfully? It may be that your teen is getting older and naturally wants to make more of his own decisions. Your teen may simply be letting you know: “I want more control over my life.” However, it may also be that your teen feels judged; and in response to that feeling of being disrespected themselves, your teen is responding in kind. Or it may be that because they see YOU disrespecting others, your teen is following your example. But there are also times when teens are hurting. They may be lonely or in pain, but are not yet equipped with the appropriate way to handle these feelings. As you study your teen and look at what’s motivating their disrespect, you’ll know how to respond and train them to become a respectful, mature adult.

UNHELPFUL Ways to Respond to Disrespect

You should not ignore disrespectful behavior. But you do need to be careful about how you respond. If you act in a disrespectful way by shaming your teen, calling him names, or yelling in anger, you are simply training your teen how to be disrespectful in return. If you are angry, you need to stop and figure out what you’re not getting and find a better way to deal with your frustration. You may not like it, but the reality is that sometimes you’ve got to win the right to be heard, even with your own kids.

HELPFUL Ways to Respond to Disrespect

First, you need to decide what you believe about disrespect. What is the difference between teasing, sarcasm, and disrespectful behavior? What is it that you dislike about disrespect? Take time to clearly communicate the expectations and the consequences for disrespect to your teens. Then, when your teen is disrespectful, wait until you’re calm to sit down and talk to your teen. It’s okay to call out the disrespect that you see. Talk about what that communicates and why you won’t tolerate it. Ask questions to find out why your child is treating others poorly. This might happen by just asking a few thoughtful questions. But sometimes it takes more effort to get to your teen’s heart. In fact, your teen may not immediately know why they’re acting this way.

Always treat your teen with kindness and respect. You do not have to act disrespectfully to someone who is disrespecting you. It’s called grace. Instead, move toward your teen and help her think through the reasons for her behavior. As you show respect, your teens will “catch” your respectful attitude and eventually it will become part of the atmosphere of your home. Remember, you’re playing the “long game.” Your teen might not turn around immediately. Resist the urge to react immediately and punish too harshly. Overcorrecting your teen can push your teen into further disrespect if they can’t see a way to move forward or any hope for change. Instead, look for the gradual improvement that shows growth.

Things to Remember Concerning Disrespect and Authority

You may have grown up at a time when respecting authority was normal. But that isn’t the case today. Your teens live in a disrespectful world. Think about how people in authority are portrayed and talked about today. It’s no surprise that your teen has picked up on some of this disrespect and brought it home. Your teen will start acting like everybody else if he’s not intentionally taught how to be respectful. Rules, consequences, boundaries, high standards, and discipline at home are important, but they must be cushioned by relationship. Appealing to your relationship with your teen, to gain respect, is the most effective means of earning respect. You cannot force your teen to respect you. It won’t work.


Hey moms and dads … your teens are growing up in a tough world. The negative comments about those in authority along with the atmosphere of criticism and ridicule is a pretty easy mindset to get caught up in—and your teens are no exception. Disrespect is everywhere around every corner and is unavoidable. So the fact that some rubs off on your teens, shouldn’t really be that much of a surprise. Your role is to give them a reason to respect and to be an example of someone to be respected. Your response to the world, along with the way that you engage with those that disagree with you, are opportunities to shine in the midst of the sometimes-critical contempt swirling all around us. You must be a light in the darkness, a gentle voice in the chaos, and an assurance that your mindset doesn’t have to be affected by those who act and portray something opposite.

Reconnecting with an Isolated Teen

Does your teen hang a “Go Away!” sign on his or her bedroom door? Does he or she consistently refuse to participate in family activities? Does he or she remain silent when you ask questions? In this article, I’ll advise parents on how to get reconnected with isolated teens and conquer your teen’s loneliness in a world that pulls parents and teens apart.

First, What Does Teen Isolation Look Like?

It’s normal for teens to want some space from parents or siblings. It’s normal for teens to want to try things on their own, seek out independence, attempt to make their own decisions. But the “new normal” is an unhealthy trend for teens to isolate themselves for long periods of time, engulfed by entertainment on a device consumed by themselves, avoiding contact with their family. When a teen suddenly stops doing what they once enjoyed, abandons their friends, skips school, or refuses to get out of bed, your teen needs help. All teens long for meaningful relationships and companionship, but they need to learn how to make those connections.

There Are Dangers to Ignoring Teen Isolation

While some time communicating online with friends is okay, your teen also needs to put the phone down in order to have a well-balanced life––to experience communication face-to-face. Allowing unhealthy isolation to continue in your home will not only damage your relationship with your teen, it will also negatively impact your teen’s future life, career, and relationships.

Find out what’s motivating your teen’s isolation. The reasons will determine how you can help. For example, some isolation is a teen’s response to bullying. Some isolation is a reaction to tension at home. Some isolation is because of laziness. Some isolation is a teen “giving up” due to anxiety, fear of the unknown, or seemingly unreachable expectations. If your teen is shutting down, you need to push open the door and help your child to better understand the core issues behind their retreat. And if your teen is struggling with depression or trauma, you need to get help from someone who is trained to help teens struggling with these heavy issues.

Reconnecting with an Isolated Teen

Getting reconnected takes time. You need to spend time together, even if your teen has been silent for a long time. It’s your job to clearly communicate your desire to spend time together. Schedule a time to get a bite to eat and leave the phones at home, even if at first you need to require his participation. And be consistent. Make time together at least once a week. Then, when you’re together, ask engaging questions––questions that seek to find out the heart of your teen. If you could change one thing at school or at home, what would it be? What can I do to help you and I have a closer relationship? Remember, it’s not an interrogation, so don’t ask: How much time did you spent online? What are you doing in here? Your goal is to get your teen to open up. You can give your perspective, but be careful not to spend all your time sharing your opinion. It’ll shut down your teen’s words. And if your attempts at conversation routinely lead to arguments, then stop constantly correcting your teen and pointing out where he went wrong.  Instead, you ask questions and listen. That way you will better understand what he believes and why he believes it. These conversations are the key to drawing your teen into a more meaningful relationship where you will have the opportunity to offer your wisdom.

If your teen is giving you one-word answers, then it’s time to get creative! Consider a reward for better communication. Tell your teen you’ll continue to pay his cell phone bill, as long as he gives you answers that are at least 20 words long. Then count the words! You’re training your teen to move out of childish conversations and engage in adult communication. The reason they don’t do it now, is that they’ve either never been taught how to, haven’t been required to do so, or Mom and Dad do all the talking and they’ve never been pushed to exercise this life skill. So if your teen is avoiding conversations, then it’s your job to train them to engage well. 


Hey moms and dads … your teen more than likely believes that this world is the worst it could ever be because that’s what they hear and it’s the only life that they’ve been exposed to. Their inadequacy of being prepared to live and function in their world quickly turns to worry–– which is misuse of one’s imagination––then to fear, then on to anxiety, which turns to panic––a terror that they are certain they cannot overcome. It’s a tough spot to be, where your teen feels the world is crushing down on them. So, they find a retreat from those pressures and disconnect and isolate to find peace amidst the conflict. It’s your opportunity to share perspectives of the world that help them understand that much of their fears will pass, that you were there to walk with them, and then this turmoil they feel will soon be over. It’s not a time just to share opinions. It’s an opportunity to give perspective.