Parenting Teenagers

Question

We have two wonderful teenagers but at times they really frustrate me.  I just don’t understand their world.  My wife tells me I’m a great dad, but sometimes my buttons get pushed and I move into my critical lecture mode, and that never helps.  Any suggestions?

Answer

Welcome to the Frustrated Parents of Teenagers Club.  I’m a charter member. Your kids live in a different world than you do and, as the adult, it’s your job to understand them.  In the book of Proverbs we’re told that understanding is more valuable than gold and silver, and it’s a wise person who seeks after it.

At the outset, pretend you are a missionary to a foreign country called Millennial Land, and your job is to learn the language and culture of this confusing civilization.

Discover what they’re interested in—the music they listen to, the movies they see, the friends they hang out with, and what makes them laugh.  You don’t have to like it, but you do need to understand it.

What are their sources of fear, what causes them to worry, what pushes their anger buttons, what discourages them?

Discover more about their world and the stress and pressures they face by talking with their teachers and other parents.  When my boys were teenagers, I met with some dads a couple times a year to talk about and to pray for our kids and it was invaluable

It’s a wise dad that trains himself to stop, look , listen, discover, and learn.  Don’t dominate the conversation.  Again, do not dominate the conversation.  Listen.  Ask questions.  The more you talk the less you are learning about them, their world, their mind, and their heart.

When you’re tempted to lecture, ask the Holy Spirit to help you listen.  Maybe you and your wife can have a secret sign that means “Close you mouth honey and just listen.”

Proverbs 18:13 teaches us that, “The one who gives an answer before he listens—this is foolishness and disgrace for him.”  James 1:19-20 reminds us that,  “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger,for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”

Seek wisdom, seek understanding, become a listener.  You’ll be amazed at the results.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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