My husband and I have the best relationships with our teenagers – at least we do at this very moment . . . mainly because my husband is at the store and I am in the office and the teenagers are doing what teenagers will do.
It has been a challenge living in a house with teenage boys again. It was bad enough when it was my brothers, but these menboys are bigger than me and I am supposed to be guiding them and teaching them. I was able to just torcher and torment my brothers.
But, for the most part, we do have good relationships with the boys. Yes, they get moody – and so do we. Yes, they get snarky – and so do we. Yes, they get rude – and so do we. I am beginning to flesh out a pattern here.
Despite the snark, the moods, and the rude attitudes, the boys do chores around the house, offer hugs and share insightful opinions about our family and our journey together. Maybe not every day, but many of them. And the more that my husband and I invest in the boys, the more days it becomes.
Top Survival Tips for Tackling Teens
- Make time to play as a family. We like to go bowling, or hiking together, but we also love to play board games. We laugh together. We compete against each other and sometimes in partnerships. We learn to lose with respect. Game time is more than just game time.
- Take time to learn about their activities. This is my struggle point. I have NEVER been a gamer and have no interest in the concept much less the details. But I try to listen a little and do listen if they specifically offer. Other points of interest, like scouting and ballroom dancing, now those I will listen to with delight. But when the boys see me give them (and their interests) attention, it elevates those interests.
- Talk WITH them. This is very different from talking AT them. Believe me, I have done both – today. A conversation with the boys, usually held best on a one to one basis, makes way for all sorts of interesting diversions. It is through casual conversations that life changing topics have been approached – by the son and not by the mom. Once they know that it is a conversation, they feel free to talk about what is on their hearts.
- Pray daily for your own growth. You are the first example that your teen knows and often the default example. What kind of example are you setting? I know that my children see me study the Word in the morning and at night, and that seeing that has impacted them even if in just a small way. They are watching, and so I pray daily to be a reflection of my Father.
- Pray daily for God’s Will to take root in their lives. This can be a tough prayer for a parent – after all, he is your child. But I long ago gave my children to God. I see myself as a steward of HIS children, and I believe they are HIS children. So each day I am praying that I will understand His will for their lives so that I can best help them begin the pursuit of that path.
- Let it go. (That was for all you folks snowed in and sick of it – and because I have yet to see the movie or get the song lyrics caught anywhere near my mind). It is true. I have to release the need to direct the path of my boys if I want them to be able to discover and walk their own path. It is easier, now that I accept my role as steward, but there are still days when I want to hold them upside down and shake them until some sense falls into place.
The key to being a great parent of teens is to recognize that teens are no longer children. They are adults. They are responsible. They are capable. See them in this new light and you will begin to see the relationships flourish. We are learning that the more we grow in our own walk and the more we release the boys to God, the more we can take up that position of support and encouragement.