Think a minute… Do you live with strangers in your house? It can feel that way when our kids change into teenagers and the generation gap between us gets even wider. Now more than ever, we need to stay close to our kids during these crucial, changing years of their life. Here are some tips to overcoming this communication breakdown, and enjoying good times of talking with your teenagers.
First, set rules. For example, make it OK in your family to disagree with each other. But be sure to always be kind and never criticize each other’s ideas, feelings or personal preferences. If you make fun of your teenager’s taste in music or clothes, then they probably will not want to talk to you about anything else.
Second, don’t correct your teenager’s grammar and way of talking every single time they make a mistake; because you are telling them that you care more about their grammar then what they are feeling and trying to tell you.
Third, pull the plug. For short car drives and family meals together, try not to allow your teens to use their smart phone, watch TV or listen to their music. That way you can use this time together to talk, laugh, and enjoy being together. Plus, during your family meal choose to ignore the phone, since this time with your kids is more important.
Number four: Tell your kids about your own experiences, both the fun ones and the difficult ones you had when you were their age. This will make them feel closer to you and freer to tell you what they are going through in their childhood and youth. Furthermore, when our children hear stories about their family, it gives them a feeling of security and healthy pride in their family history. So tell them how you and your spouse met, or what their grandparents were like when they were younger.
Finally, let your kids talk and share their real feelings without you preaching at them. Remember, feelings themselves are not right or wrong, but they are real to your kids. Their problems and pain may not seem the most important thing in the world, but they are extremely important in your child’s world! So they should be important in yours also! Your teenagers need to know that you care about what they care about and are experiencing without you lecturing and correcting them every time. Instead, try to help them understand what their feelings mean and how to handle them. Then they can become confident, happy and hopeful about their life and future.
Remember, the One Who fully knows and understands your teenagers is their own Maker. So won’t you ask Jesus to help you learn how to talk and listen to your kids? That is the way you can stay close to them both now and always. Just think a minute…