My daughter and I were sitting on the sofa talking-I think she was about thirteen at the time. She said to me a bit defiantly, “You know, you really can’t stop me from doing anything I want to do.”
“I know, you’re exactly right about that,” I replied more calmly than I was actually feeling. She looked a bit shocked that I agreed with her. But I think this acknowledgement increased her sense of responsibility.
When youngsters become teens, you can’t lock them in their room and throw away the key. Nor would you want to. The teen years are the period when kids need to try their wings, hopefully in an appropriate way, while they’re still living at home-and you’re there to pick up the pieces if they should crash-land.
Listening is such an important tool with teens. We think we’re most effective when we’re talking. But listening without criticism helps you see inside their thinking. Of course, you can’t schedule listening-and teens usually want to communicate at the most inconvenient times. But one day you’ll be glad did.
When your kids were small, you held their hand for safety and to assure them you were there. During the teen years your job is to help transfer their hand from yours to God’s hand, for going through life with their hand in God’s is the best way to live. God Himself says, “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13).
Let your teens know that you have confidence God will direct them, guide and discipline them-that their lives may conform to His. And above all, never underestimate the power of prayer. Remember, God loves them even more than you do.
Ruth Bell Graham gives a word of encouragement in her prayer for parents when she writes, Remind them gently, Lord, how You have trouble with Your children, too.
Taken from: Ruth Bell Graham, Sitting By My Laughing Fire (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1977).
How about you? What is your greatest challenge when talking with your teen?