There isn’t a parent out there who doesn’t want to have a deeper relationship with their teen. But many parents don’t know how. Every day, it feels the same. “How was school?” “Do you have any homework?” With an occasional, “How was your test?” sprinkled in. But how do you take the conversation with your teen to the next level? In this article, I’ll ask you to consider a few questions to help you figure out what’s preventing you from going deeper with your teen.
What Can Take the Place of Depth in Our Relationships?
Do you ask you teen, “how was your day?” … only to get the answer “fine”? It’s easy to slip into the habit of relating to your teen on the basis of performance and behavior, and miss out on what’s happening in his heart. If you habitually ask your teen about grades, sports, or chores, you’ll only achieve a surface-level connection. You may even get stuck in a rut where shallow conversations are expected and normal. To change it up, and break out of this rut, and spend more time listening to your teen. Your relationship with your teen needs to grow and mature.
What Might Prevent Us from Going Deep with Our Teen?
Do you walk away from your teen when they’ve done wrong? In my experience with families and teens here at Heartlight, the number one thing that prevents moms and dads from drawing closer to their teens, is unforgiveness. When hurts at home go unresolved, it’s common for both teens and parents to want to push back from the relationship. But if you hold onto past hurts, you’ll never have a future. I guarantee your teen will disappoint you. So, get a fresh start by forgiving him. Do you best to take your focus off his flaws and find his heart! Remember, your grace shines brightest when you move towards a child who doesn’t deserve it.
How Do We Go Deep in Our Relationship with Our Teen?
Creating and maintaining an atmosphere of open communication, as your child gets older takes efforts and intentionality. Your teen is different at age 14, than he was at age 5. But if you keep parenting your teen in the same way, you will lose your connection with your teen when he gets older and needs something different. Be willing to makes changes, as your teen changes.
Start by taking an inventory of the time you spend with your teen. Do you spend time connecting about the deeper issues of life or are you simply attending events and sitting on the sidelines? Are you willing to have your schedule inconvenienced in order to make time to be together? Make time to share a meal, take a trip, and talk without smart phones.
Here’s a tough question: Do you really love your teen? I don’t ask this flippantly––I mean it! Too often, we grow accustomed to being in the same house with our teens. We spend time together, but we don’t interact in a meaningful way. If you aren’t expressing authentic love to your teen, she will go outside of the home to get that need fulfilled.
Do you appreciate your teen as a unique person or are you only interested in spending time with your teen when he shares your interests or is behaving the way you want him to behave? It’s important for parents to take an interest in the things their teens enjoy. Believe it or not, you can appreciate a teen who is different from you, and even one who is pushing against the things you value the most. Instead of focusing on the bad behavior, talk with your teen, listen to his heart, and ask questions about what they care about. Then listen to them talk!
Hey moms and dads …. your teens want to go deeper with you, but they just don’t know how. You have the opportunity to teach them and show them how to engage at a deeper level. The first decision you have to make is whether you want to go deeper in conversation and relationship. Drawing closer will push you to go deeper in your own life, as you examine areas that may not have ever been addressed. But your teen will love you for it. As they get older, if they want to have deeper relationships, the best chance of that happening is with you. So strip away the old and bring in the new! Let them know that you want to have deeper conversations and desire to move away from the shallow end of the conversation pool. It’s a longing that they have, and a hope that will be fulfilled, when you take your teen to a new place of relationship.