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Teen Communications

I was talking with a young man with two early teens. He and his wife have built a stable family with God at its center. He shared that, for a while now, almost every night, the kids come downstairs for a drink or a snack. Inevitably, they wander over to where he's watching TV or reading and end up conversing about their day and asking questions relevant to their situations. They hang out for 10 to 15 minutes and then return to their rooms.

How amazing is that? How many parents do you know who have that relationship with their early teens?

The level of trust I see in this family is truly remarkable. My boys didn't come to me in the evenings like that. They were smart enough not to wake the sleeping ogre, even though I wasn't actually sleeping. Feeling accepted and loved opens many doors to parent-teen communications, and trust is the key that unlocks them.

I loved my boys to the max, but I don't think they trusted that I would accept what was troubling them or provide helpful feedback. My harshness kept them at bay. I was not equipped to create the inviting atmosphere they needed so greatly. [Blind Spot]

This dad created a safe environment for communication. Below are a few key elements I observed with this dad and his teens:

  • Showing genuine interest in their lives, avoiding distractions, and validating their feelings.

  • Avoiding criticism and judgment fosters a sense of safety and shows enthusiasm for their interests.

  • Understanding and managing emotions to respond thoughtfully and model respectful, honest, and open communication.

  • Being reliable in responses and encouraging deeper conversations with open-ended questions. 

  • Giving them time to express themselves without rushing.

Building this kind of a relationship requires time, early connection and relationship development. The good news is that we can always create new beginnings.

How about you? Reflecting on your parenting, can you learn from this dad's example? I certainly can.

Watch for the blind spots.

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