The Power of Yes There is power in saying “Yes” in our relationship with God. Releasing our strangle hold on relationships and plans forces us to confront the inner control freak hidden deep in our hearts that keeps us saying “no” to change and in effect to being able to embrace the reality of who Read More
The new year brings with it new beginnings and new possibilities. In our house, the new year also means one last college football game– the National Championship! Yes, I am a football fan. Last night, as I and other fans watched a great game played between the University of Alabama and University of Georgia (Go Read More
“A friend is someone that knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words.” This is one of my favorite reminders about the power of friendship. It points to the passage in proverbs that says, “A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Prov. 27:9. I have been thinking on the aspect of friendship in the last few weeks as I have seen the ending of one season and the beginning of a new season in my life. With the changing of life’s seasons there can be the question of which friends will come with you into the new season (the new chapter), what new friends await you, and what friends will not go with you in the new season and remain a part of the season that has passed away.
Walking away last night from time spent with a friend where the food was good and the conversation even better, I was reminded of how true and authentic friendship can be a force for inspiration, refreshment and a soft place to land in difficult days. In it we can find a place to sort through our deepest fears, biggest dreams and experience the transformational power of really “knowing” another and being known by them. A true and authentic friend is committed to going beyond mere “likes” on Instagram or “liking” your latest post on Facebook. They free time to spend with you rather than just give you their free time—which in this day and age “free time” is a scarcity.
In growing healthy friendships, here are 5 things to consider:
- They are based in truth. Friends tell each other the truth—personal truths and godly truth– and not just what they think the other wants to hear.
- The deeper and more authentic the friendship, the greater the vulnerability shared. To be a true and authentic friend takes risk and it takes courage—courage to face conflict and rejection, courage to continue to invest in relationship despite what life may bring for either friend. It takes courage to love with a love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things yet not lose one’s sense of self in that process.
- They take TIME. Time spent talking, laughing, crying, playing. It takes time for others to learn the “song” in your heart and time for you to learn theirs. It also takes time to stay current on revisions to the tune, as well.
- Healthy friendships enrich, challenge and encourage but they cannot complete us. There needs to be freedom in friendship to pursue our individuality. We need to be careful that friend relationships not become an incubator for codependency and insecurities.
- They embolden us to be all we can be in our other important relationships—spouses, children, co-worker and most importantly, God.
The relational distance between parent and child in the teen years can take a nose –dive in a such a short amount of time. Things working against the relationship can be developmental limitations in the teens’ brains, the battle of wills, hectic schedules and lack of balance in between home, work and social life for families. With all of the physical, emotional and social changes going on for them, teens can be emotionally explosive one minute and then very perceptive, level-headed, matter-of-fact the next. It’s no wonder that parents might find it a little scary to interact with their teen(s) from day to day. Here are some tips to improving communication with teens.
- Don’t lecture your teen, have a conversation. When parents complain “my teenager doesn’t want to talk to me,” what they’re really complaining about is “my teenager doesn’t want to listen to me.” Conversation involves at least two people listening AND talking.
- Show respect for your teen’s opinions.Teens are more open to communication when they feel valued.
- Keep it short and simple. Teens will tune you out if they feel you don’t value their perspective or feelings. If the habit on lengthy conversations (lectures) takes root, teens will begin to avoid and not want to engage with parents.
- Be yourself.Don’t try to talk like your teens or their friends.
- Ask curious questions…not loaded questions. Don’t ask loaded questions that put your child on the defensive like, “Why can’t you get up on time?” “What’s wrong with you?”Rather, curious questions like “So show me how you got to that decision” “Help me understand what you were feeling.”
- Clarify. Paraphrasing back to your teen what you think they said will allow the teen to say that they’ve been misunderstood
- Be collaborative in your problem-solving. “How can we work on this?” “What are some of your ideas for making things better?” ”WE can figure this out…”
- Listen, listen…and listen more! Teens actually have a lot to say but they have to trust you with the small stuff before they’ll trust you with the big stuff. If you think you might need to listen more…you do! Listen for understanding
- Listen with the goal of understanding—not just to assess right or wrong, guilt or innocence. As a parent, we will face times when those assessments need to be made but that shouldn’t be the only goal of listening
- Seize the moment. With kids and teens, it’s important to be around enough–and available enough (Note: Parents–being on electronic devices does not send the message that you are available)–to capitalize on moments of connection that invariably come up when you least expect them to. With teens, their “prime time” is often later in the evenings…I know, parents—just when we are shutting down. This means you may need to make some adjustments in order to have the energy for those talks.
- No matter how much you think you know your child, be willing to let your child teach you about themselves.
- You are the adult– be the adult. Even in the most heated situations, do not engage in name-calling or teasing. Comments like “Your stupid!” or “Don’t be an idiot!” can have a huge impact on kids when it’s coming from their parents.
Parenting teens is not for the faint of heart but there are so many joys that can come in this crucial part of their growing up process. Don’t give up now! They still need you (they just don’t know it much of the time).