Learning to reconnect with today's adolescents.
you know how they are
By Fred Stoeker
Recently an acquaintance at church told us, “My son is a senior in high school this year. He never listens anymore. You know how they are at that age!”
We smiled kindly, but do you know what? We really don’t “know how they are,” even after raising four teenagers. All of our children have always listened, and they still do. How did we manage that? Did we lock them away in a cave, safe from all outside influences?
Not at all, they attended public school throughout their lives. We did it by actively building and keeping a deep connection with them during their teen years through a process we detailed in the parent’s section of my book, Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle. Here are three of the necessary steps:
You must believe it’s possible to keep connection.
In Deuteronomy 21:18-21, the Lord clearly implies that a good connection with our kids is not only quite possible, but it should be common, and quite normal. One of God’s signature promises in Psalm 91:7 provided great hope to me as a parent, and enabled me to believe for things with confidence and without fear: “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” You see, it doesn’t matter what is plaguing the society around you, whether it be a disease or the plague of rebellion in teens that just won’t listen. Though ten thousand high schoolers around you may shut their ears to their parents, it needn’t touch you.
When it comes to connection, you need to go first.
Building and keeping connection with your teens is your job, not theirs. Your kids likely see you the same way my kids saw me, as Superman. As their parent, I was the strong, handsome guy who had been setting all the boundaries for years, and the guy who never seems to have trouble living with the rules himself. They’d seen little weakness in me, just like your kids have seen little weakness in you.
How easy would it have been for my kids to walk up to me and say, “Dad, it’s been hard lately to stand up to my friends and all the peer pressure. Can you help me?” They’re thinking, “How could my strong parents possibly understand, and how could they do anything but be embarrassed by my weakness? I’m embarrassed myself!”
With these thoughts on their mind, we shouldn’t expect them to step out first to build this connection with us. You’re the parent. You’re the one responsible to build a place that makes this kind of connection easier, and to open the door to them. You must go first. As their parent and their friend, you need to show them that you know where they live. To do that, you need to spend more time talking with them, and you need to be open and transparently share your life and your walk with God.
Do book with them.
In my experience, the best way to build this connection is by going through books with your junior high and high school-aged children, a process I explain in detail in Preparing Your Son. Reading books together provides a platform for sharing many of your own stories from your past, both the mistakes and the victories. It is in swapping stories from our youth that we can convince our children that we know where they live, and that our friendship and connection is very relevant to their lives.
I can’t wait to share more about this process at the upcoming D6 Conference in September. I hope to see you there!
About the Writer: Fred Stoeker is president and founder of Living True Ministries. In 2000, he co-authored the best-selling book, Every Man's Battle. He has published other best-selling titles, including, Every Man's Marriage, Preparing Your Son for Every Man's Battle, and the entire Every Man's Series.