Tuesday August 17 2021

10 Essential Things Your Teenager Wished You Knew – Part 4

7. Learning to Listen and Guide (Lecturing is not the way to go!)

As parents, we need to learn to listen more than we speak, and have healthy discussion more than we lecture! It is essential that we learn the art of proactive versus reactive parenting. As parents, we should want to be the first people that they talk to about the issues going on in their lives. That will only happen if they feel that we will still love them regardless, won’t lose the plot (or throw our toys out the cot!), and will be ready to listen.

Being able to discern what is going on in their hearts and minds is so important if we are to help them flourish into the men and women they were created to be. If you are struggling to connect, encourage them to speak to someone else that you respect and trust.

Quick bit of wisdom:

From a young age, make it a priority that your children are in places that have great role models. This could be a regular holiday camp, weekly youth group, or young adults church service. The sacrifice of time, fuel and holiday juggling will be worth it!

Growth Steps: How have you reacted in the past when your child shared something that shocked you? How can you improve in the future? Are there important conversations that you need to have with your teenager? How are they doing when it comes to healthy role models in their lives the waters of our relationship with them as parents.

8. Letting Out The Freedom Line (Slowly Letting Wings Spread)

This is probably one of the most difficult areas for parents to navigate, and for this reason there are often large extremes. Parents can either be very strict, or not strict at all. Both of these run the risk of damaging the relationship with your teenager and healthy growth into maturity. Balance is needed, but what does that look like through the teenage years?

This can be done too early or too late, but we need to gradually let out this freedom line based on their emotional readiness and personal desire to live within the boundaries we set in place at each age. Boundaries are essential for proper development of our teenagers, and for us as parents I might add!

Initially these boundaries are set in stone by parents, but as our children grow older we can include them in the discussion on boundaries. We as parents however need to make the final decision and saying no can be the best possible thing for your child in certain situations.

So let’s explore a possible example when it comes to technology:

First step: We allow our children to watch a specific dvd or show for a specific period of time that is safe and relevant. They cannot choose what they watch.

Second step: We allow them to choose out of a selection of content that we approve of for a specific period of time.

Third step: They can choose the content that they watch (although we place age appropriate safeguards in place), but the time they can watch for is still limited.

Fourth step: They are allowed their own device with the same rules applied as above.

Fifth step: They have full use of a device and we trust them to use it appropriately. We can still have content related safeguards in place but in terms of usage of time we allow them to make a decision and we have regular feedback.

I understand the above is very broad, but it is important to have these sorts of stages when it comes to friendships, travel, money and more!

Don’t rush this process.

Don’t give your children too much freedom too soon. If you aren’t sure, speak to someone and research. There is absolutely no reason to hurry, even if your contemporaries are doing things differently. 

Don’t be afraid to go against the grain. 

This is where it is so important to build friendships with families who have a similar outlook on life, it makes things so much easier! 

Sometimes your child will push a boundary, or may fail when given responsibility. This is part of life. Learning how to navigate these situations (using many of the points above) can actually help to strengthen your relationship with your teenager and help them move towards maturity.

Growth Steps: Do you have healthy boundaries in place for your children? If not, you can create some right now. Take some time to assess if you have let out the freedom line too quickly or too slowly? Make some adjustments if necessary.

  • Craig Roberts