Wisdom for the Teen Years: Day Seven
building relationships with your teens
By Sheila Cowell
Read Proverbs 3:5-6
Being a mom doesn’t always come naturally to me - maybe you can you relate? I remember placing my newborn daughter in her carrier on the floor of a friend’s house and whispering “I don’t even like her,” as tears streamed down my face. I heard moms talk about the connection they had with their babies and how being with them were the most precious moments they had ever experienced. For me, there wasn’t this moment we instantly bonded, it was more like learning a rhythm, so I knew building strong relationships with my children throughout their life was going to have to be very intentional. Relationships are hard enough aren’t they? Some days it’s complicated and doesn’t look the way we imagined.
When parenting teens, we discover that there is a shift in our approach and expectations in building relationships with them. It used to be that we could anticipate some of their needs and personally help fill in the gaps which built trust between us. But, as they begin moving towards independence and the rhythm of holding close and letting go gets trickier, a majority of trust building comes from whether or not we can believe the best about them and who they are when we don’t understand them, and listening to hear them instead of to correct them.
When we make ourselves available and work hard to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry, strong bonds continue to grow and training them includes more conversations about their hearts than their behaviors. We can seek God and learn to let them make some of their own decisions and remind them we believe in who they are even if we don’t always agree with what they do. We can pray through letting some things that have been strict rules become dialogue instead. We can give them safe places to make their own path and discover their own way of doing things and build a relationship that will last a lifetime.
Walking alongside our teens can be difficult but it can also be one of the sweetest seasons of getting to be a part of watching them grow into confident and purposed young adults. God promises that as we trust in Him with all our heart and seek Him, He will show us the right paths. Because of Jesus, we can parent from a place of faith rather than fear and believe we can trust God to do things in and around them beyond what we can see or imagine as He guides them into becoming fully the masterpiece He created. We can loosen our grasp, finger by finger, still holding them, but with open hands and great joy.
Scripture Meditation: James 1:19-20 My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.
1. What is one rule or boundary you could ask your teen for their input on and possibly adjust to honor their opinion? Letting our children know that they are heard and that their voice matters builds a relationship of trust.
2. When a tense conversation or mood exists, what is one way you could remember to pay attention to their heart instead of their behavior and give them a space to know you believe in them? Being slow to react lets our children know we believe in who they are even when we don’t love what they do.
3. What is one fun thing you could do with your teen this week that would create an environment of trust and open conversation? Don’t forget to have fun with them, laugh with them and do some things that you enjoy together.
Thank You, Jesus, for my teenager. He/she is a gift from You and I am so grateful that You have chosen me to be their mom. Remind me daily that as I seek You, You will show me how to best love, train and encourage him/her.