As a youth pastor I believe one of the biggest issue facing the parent and teenager relationship is communication. More specifically a lack of communication coming from parents. It is said that advertisers communicate messages to our students anywhere from 500-1000 times a day. One study I looked at from cbsnews.com said that one in three kids between 12-17 years old send over 100 text messages a day. Looking at these numbers I believe one thing stands out. Our teenagers are communicating, or at least being communicated to ALOT.
With hundreds, maybe thousands, of messages being communicated to and at our teenagers every day, I believe as parents this should cause us to think about what we are communicating to our children. What messages are they hearing from us about their identity, belonging, support of the family, self worth, empathy, faith and love? These topics may seem heavy to some and daunting for parents who feel they don’t know how to communicate or where to start with their teenagers. The reality is that these conversations don’t have some fool proof formula or someone selling a sham-wow-like solution to communicating with your teenager. The reality is if the parent and teen communications have broken down it will take many awkward attempts at conversation. Also required will be be time; time with your teen. Invite them to join with you and share your life with them. At the least it will keep them from playing video games.
Sometimes we need a kickstart, something to help us begin conversation that will lead to more communication. One of the best ways I remember this happening when I was a teenager was with sticky notes or just a simple handwritten note. Below I have created a fun little activity that I believe will help you as a parent kickstart the conversation between you and your teenager. If you are a parent who has a great relationship with your teen and you’re communicating in a way that would make Dr. Phil proud, this activity will only serve to strengthen your relationship and add lasting value to their very being.
As I bring this in for a closing I want to give you my personal secret for relational success. On any given middle school event we could have anywhere between 70-200 students in our building. I am someone who believes in relational ministry; that God has put these students in our lives to have a Christ Centered relationship that points people toward His Hope. Communication is a big deal to help as many students as possible feel like they belong. I like to think of beginning those relationships as building on Common Ground. The more ground you have the more you can build. I believe this is the same idea when it comes to parenting and beginning to build back communication that has been lost. Common Ground as simple as “Your upset at me, I get that, I remember when I used to be upset with my parents” but “I remember when we started talking again, I wished we never stopped”. In building Common Ground the goal is that your teenager knows that you are listening to them and that they are a valuable part of your family.
As we have all survived the ending of the Mayans calendar, I pray that we would use this year to focus on our communication between people in our “God given small group” – our family. Maybe you have read this and you don’t have teenagers anymore, I would invite you to call or meet with someone who does and encourage them as they are leading and guiding their children through this world of communication.
Stick It To Your Teenager Activity:
– A Sharpie
– A Stack Of Sticky Notes
What to do:
While your teenager is out of the house, take the supplies mentioned and go to the bathroom your child uses the most…
Fill the mirror with positive words speaking Gods Truth into them and how beautiful they are and how much you value them as apart of your family!!!