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Communicating With Teenagers

By bro Lee Tian Seng

One common challenge that parents have with their teenagers is that they tend to talk back and do not want to follow your rules. This can be exasperating for parents because they think that their children are challenging their authority and fear that they are “getting out of hand.” What most teenagers want is to have more freedom, more autonomy and more privacy. Perhaps they do not know how to ask for these and so have manifested their needs in their behaviour. If parents can understand that their teenagers just need more space to grow up as an adult but still need their parents’ guidance, it will be easier to relate to them.

Parents often misunderstand their teenagers. Joseph and Mary did not understand Jesus when He told them that He was doing the work of God in the temple. Also, from Mary’s exclamation when she found Jesus, it appears that she thought that her son was disobedient and careless.

Luke 2:48-50 - So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

To understand our teenagers better, parents need to have open communication with them. “Open” means non-judgmental and empathetic communication. If parents were to pre-judge their teenagers by what they say or even in the tone they use, their teenagers will close up and will not want to continue with the conversation. But if parents were to listen to understand what their teenagers are saying, both informationally and emotionally, then they can establish a trusting and close relationship with them. This is crucial because our teenagers are growing up and facing many challenges at this point in their lives. They need us to be there to guide and support them.

We want our teenagers to be able to make wise decision and be more prepared for the difficulties they will face on their own – failures, disappointments, temptations, and conflicts in relationship. With our guidance, they will navigate life with wisdom and understanding.

Proverbs 2:10-11 - When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you.

Therefore, parents should continue to provide appropriate guidance and discipline to their teenagers, though it is tempting to please them by giving in to them.

Proverbs 1:8-10 - My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck. My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.

We need to appreciate that adolescent is not the easiest period of growing up for our children. Therefore, we should be show more empathy, be there for them and always pray for them.

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