Thoughts on Raising Teenagers

Got up early this morning, and spent the first half of the day at the Minnesota Church Ministries Association’s annual conference.  After late evenings almost every evening this week, I’m now very tired.  I’m really glad that I made the decision to get up and go, this morning though.  I attended three very good, well organized presentations – and have spent most of the rest of this afternoon refle…

cting on a speech that Mark Gold (Global Link Partners) made regarding staying connected with our children as they grow, and age.  As a youth pastor for some twenty plus years, Mark had valuable and timely advice to share on the subject of keeping communication open between our teenagers, and ourselves.    Mark’s most important point – and the one that he spent most of his 1-Hour presentation developing – was that communication takes time, and effort.  As I was driving home after the end of the third – and last – presentation hour, and for most of the rest of the day since then – I’ve been reflecting on that.  As a parent of young teenagers now, it is my opinion that Mark is absolutely, and unequivocally correct about that!  Between about eleven and eighteen years of age, there are more than simply physical changes that take place within them.  There are psychological changes that take place, also – and those changes result from several different factors.  Two of the primary contributing factors (and these are things that psychologists have been saying for years) are the seemingly ever-present influence of their peers, at school – and poor parenting by us, as parents.  There have been about three different times within the last year, that I can recall my husband and I having gotten so heavily involved with social – and church – activities of our own, that for almost a month we failed to create any time to just be with our children.  When my children were preschoolers, I had a few close friends who would tell me to be careful how I began to relate to them – as people.  They said that as I spent time raising my children, that they would learn (and internalize) much more from my actions, then they ever would from my words!  Now that they’re teenagers, it has become apparent to me how sage those admonishments were!    In recent efforts to begin developing a quality relationship with our teenagers as young adults, my husband and I have not been as quick to start getting involved in activities this year.  Further, we’re trying to be much more discriminating about how much we get involved with – and when we do start thinking about committing time to something, we discuss it with our children first.  In addition, on weekends we try to ensure that as well as time spent assisting with homework – and supervising chores – that we spend time just being with our children, regardless of what we do together.  It has been our experience that it is in those times – when we listen attentively to our children, and validate their feelings – that trust is built, and relationship develops.  I believe that helping our children to understand that they are important to us, and that we want to have a relationship with them – is one of the single most important decisions that we can make in our lives as parents.                This has been my reflection for today.  Blessings to you, friends!