I have two teen sons in the house, and it is an adventure. I actually began reading another bloggers article about 5 ways to spend time with or connect with your teenager, but after about her third tip I started to drift and all of these thoughts about healthy teen and parent relationships starting pouring out of my head. Lucky for you I caught them…haha, or at least I hope that this blesses anyone with teens or anyone who deals with that age group on a regular basis. Strong home and family relationships are an extremely important part of your own health and wellness. Creating as much balance as you can at home will help you to be a healthier individual. Keep in mind always that you are only responsible for your own actions and words. So MOM, don’t beat yourself up if that teen won’t meet you even half way, it happens.
My teens are pretty sweet guys most of the time, and homeschooling them is a bonus. Connecting with them can still be a challenge at times. Although even with our homeschool, I feel like our days are rushed and go by so quickly. I have to fight through the battle of the almighty check list. I really love finding ways to be with each of them on an individual basis; I find it is vital. Each is growing to be a young man with his own thoughts, ideas, and dreams. One on one time creates an atmosphere for me to figure out what is inside that head and heart.
As they grow I really want to choose to respect how to communicate with each one the best way he receives it. Each one has different learning styles and love languages. I really try to speak with them the way I'd like to be spoken to as well as taking into consideration their personality type, so he receives it. As men, I realize they were created differently. Most tend to be more linear, left brained, and less likely to communicate verbally. I don't find that is an excuse to not find ways to help them communicate better though. I refuse to believe that men cannot or will not talk or execute their thoughts effectively. Knowing that one day may come when my guys may have wives of their own really drives this point home for me. For them, and each one’s future wife, I must facilitate healthy communication. One of mine is actually more right brained, so he's quite the talker. This can be fun and sometimes not since his extreme intelligence can get the best of him and often have him towing the line of disrespect. I am often reeling him in from the line before he sinks his ship.
Since these two were young I've attempted to ask both guys questions with various answers they can choose from so as to get mental juices flowing, like multiple choice. My hope is to train their brains to think freely through options and be able to truly visualize them as they come into adulthood. I like to ask them reflective questions as well especially if we are dealing with a discipline issue. It is necessary that they understand that their choices affect others. Making them stand in the other people's shoes around them allows them to be sensitive to the fact that the world doesn't revolve around them. This sometimes is even better achieved in a completely unrelated scene of events away from the scene of said crime. Connections are made better sometimes when emotions are light and the brain can think more clearly. I work hard not to miss those moments.
I really try to remember to lift them up during a session of discipline as well. I say discipline session because it really is a session or life lesson for all of us. Love cannot be absent here. This is especially important knowing timing of how I lift each one up as well. By lifting up I mean ensuring my love, perhaps I mention things that I've noticed that have gone well or right lately, and best efforts. I also make sure to end that lifting up with prayer. The Lord Yeshua is the softener of hearts, and during discipline sessions, hearts may be hard. Each guy needs it at different times as well. My oldest needs to be lifted up at the end of our conversation otherwise he only remembers his faults and turns into Eyeore from Winnie the Pooh. My youngest needs to be lifted up before the actual "getting down to it all" begins otherwise he is instantly on the offense and feels attacked.
The acknowledgement of feelings and his "why" behind the situation being handled the way that it was by that person even if it was done really poorly is key. Acknowledging this validates him as a person. This is not placating or beating around the bush or pandering. I want to extinguish that young man’s need to be on the offense as much as possible and make it a safe place for him to discuss the situation with me. A huge goal of mine is to effectively allow each one to be heard, if his brother is involved. Often to achieve this I ask straight off the top for him to calmly tell me what happened in your words. Make sure another person is not in ear shot, especially that other person involved, or other siblings that may be nosey and feel the need to give his or her two cents. I want to hear every emotion and thought in order to make correction properly. I acknowledge where he was emotionally at the time, usually by saying something like, "Oh I see, so you probably felt really....(insert emotion)." The one I'm speaking to usually knows where he went wrong, but sometimes he truly does not. Do not assume your teen knows or realizes where he messed up. Give them credit where credit is due of course, and use wisdom if manipulation is taking place, while realizing that he really may not get it. Ask him if he knows where better choices could’ve been made. If he cannot tell you, then do not get mad or tell him he's lying, just explain it. If you explain it, then there's no room for excuses or the famous, "I didn't know song next time" that my oldest LOVES to sing (he's not really singing there, I'm being a bit facetious, but see...I know my kid.)
At the end of the day we are raising adults, men and women, not boys and girls. Making sure to make that fact known to them, how loved they are first by the Lord, and then by us each and every single day. Let them know where their worth comes from (God) and that no matter what they do, their faults and sins cannot diminish their worth because it didn’t come from them in the first place. They were chosen to come into creation as Holy masterpieces of the Most High God. Reinforce this daily. This world in which they live is so transient and constantly messing with their identity.
Love and grace!
Helping you to be a good steward of your health!
Marie A. Brock, HHC