Here’s the thing.
Kids will make their own mistakes.
They will falter and flounder through this painful thing called growing up. The best we can do for them, after all the teaching and preaching is done, is to continue to be a listening ear, an encouraging coach…and yes, of course at times that will involve doling out some consequences.
But there is one thing I have learned through parenting the five teenagers I have had so far…
If we do not appear to have an empathetic understanding of the real struggles they face, the sincere challenges they are dealing with, and a caring ear towards other families and their challenges, our teen will wrongly assume they can not come to us with their deepest struggles.
This happens, most times, accidentally.
In our casual, everyday conversations around the dinner table, if we do not try and consistently see things from another person’s viewpoint, if we do not try and understand how someone else who is struggling has gotten to the point of trouble that they are in, our teen will see us as judgmental. They will hear things completely differently than how we intended them.
And teenagers face some very real struggles. When someone is hurting, especially a teenager, they really don’t hear things the way we intended them.
Their pain can sometimes amplify the things we say way beyond our intention. Their struggle can sometimes make everything we say seem as a personal dig, even when and especially when we have no idea the struggles they are facing! Sounds completely unfair to the parent…as I have had to remind my children on many occasions:
“I may be a pretty good mom but I am a lousy psychic. If you think I can read your mind, think again. I can only know what you tell me and share with me…otherwise you are making some pretty big assumptions that I may be completely clueless to.”
So take the lessons I am learning and see if they help you in your challenges with your own young adult. If they are taking everything you say way too personal, not hearing what you said in the way you intended, or shutting you out all together, there may be more going on than just some teenage hormones or poor peer influences. Take the time to start asking questions and just listening to their answers. It may be some time before they really open up to you about the struggle, but with enough empathetic discussion about friends and families you know that are facing challenges and praying for them, taking the time to ask questions and really listen without preaching or teaching in response, they will come around and begin to open up.
Remember the hurting heart often has a tough time really HEARING you correctly.
Remember to take time to ask questions without jumping into preaching or teaching.
Remember to demonstrate empathy and love to the families around you that are hurting, praying for them with your teens so that they may see your heart of grace and understanding.
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