Category: Communication

Thinking and Feeling

In order to spend quality time with your teenager, you must develop the art of listening. Let me share five ideas:

  1. Maintain eye contact when your teenager is talking.
  2. When your teen starts talking, drop everything else.  If you continue watching, reading, or doing something else, the teen wonders if you really want to hear what they have to say.
  3. Listen for feelings.  Understanding the teens emotions is fully as important as understanding their ideas.
  4. Observe body language.  Clenched fists, trembling hands, and tears, may give you clues as to what the teen is feeling.
  5. Refuse to interrupt. Keep the teen talking until you understand what he is thinking and feeling.

Learn Their Thoughts

In my book, The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers, I make the point that parents of teens must learn a new pattern of communication. When our children were little, we issued instructions and commands, but if we continue this pattern during the teen years, the teenager will say, “You’re treating me like a child.” And, he will be correct.

The teen is developing independence and self-identity. It’s time to move to dialogue, rather than monologue. As children, they simply listened to you. Now, they have their own ideas, emotions, and dreams. It’s time for you to listen without condemnation. They already know your thoughts. Now it’s time for you to learn their thoughts.

Being With You

Loving teenagers can sometimes be challenging even when you know their love language. Let’s say your teen’s primary love language is quality time; so, you take the teen to see a ball game, or you watch a game on TV. Does the teen feel loved? Not necessarily. If the teen walks away from the experience feeling lonely and thinking, “Sports are move important to my father than I am,” you did not give him quality time.

On the other hand, if the teen gets the message, “The most important thing about this game is being with you. I love it when we do things together;” then the teen will walk away feeling loved. The key to speaking the love language of Quality Time is that the teen is the focus of your attention.

Collection of Things

In today’s busy world, many parents of teenagers find it difficult to spend quality time with their teen. Consequently, many teenagers live in houses filled with gadgets, but have love tanks that are empty. They often feel like they too are simply a part of their parent’s  collection of things.

Psychiatrist Ross Campbell said, “Without focused attention, a teenager experiences increased anxiety, because he feels everything else is more important than he is. He is consequently less secure and becomes impaired in his emotional and psychological growth.” Busy parents who want their teenagers to feel loved, must make time to give them focused attention.

As Christ Loves the Church

In Ephesians chapter 5, husbands are given two models as to how to love their wives. First, he is to love her as ‘Christ loves the church’. Which means that he takes the initiative to love her, even when she is not loving him. And, he is to love her even at the expense of his own life. He is to be looking out for her interests, seeking to meet her needs.

Secondly, he is to love her ‘as he loves his own body’. Most of the men I know are eating three meals a day, sleeping every night, and playing golf or other sports regularly. Yes, we take care of our bodies. What if, we invested as much time in meeting her needs as we do in meeting our needs? I think we would have wives who would respect us.

Less Dogma

If you have a silent spouse have you ever wondered why? One husband said, “it’s because every time I share an idea, she pounces on it and tells me how wrong I am.” His wife’s perspective was that she simply wanted the freedom to disagree when she thought he was wrong. What she did not realize was that she was striking at his self-esteem.

We discovered that if she would share her ideas in the form of a question rather than a pronouncement, he was less defensive. “What do you think about this perspective?” was very different from “I disagree with you. That’s simply not true.” Learning to share your ideas with less dogma may open the road to more meaningful conversations. It’s worth the effort. Give it a try.

Integrity Reborn

Can trust be re-born in a marriage? Yes, if integrity is re-born. Trust dies when deceit is born. When you lie to your spouse in order to cover-up some behavior, you have taken the first step in killing trust. A few more lies and trust will be destroyed. The only way to restore trust is to confess your sin, ask for mercy, and then re-commit yourself to telling the truth.

On the practical level this means that you must establish a new record of being trustworthy. Invite your spouse to investigate your behavior. Every time your mate discovers your actions matching your words, trust grows. It takes time, but you can become a person of integrity and your spouse can come again to trust you.

Love is Patient

Some people find it strange when I suggest that the greatest thing you can do for an estranged spouse is to love him or to love her. Yet, this is exactly what Jesus taught. We are to love even our enemies and we are to return good for evil. One of the ways in which you express love to a spouse who has walked out on you is by being patient.

The scriptures say, “love is patient”. Your marriage did not fall apart overnight and it will not be rebuilt today. Don’t set time limits for yourself or your spouse. Be patient with your spouse’s ambivalence. During separation people are often pulled in two directions:  On the one hand is the desire for reconciliation, on the other, there is the pain and hurt that says, ‘give up’. Patience is the first step toward love.

Love Our Enemies

Can you really love a spouse who has been unfaithful to you? One lady who was reading my book Hope for the Separated, told me that when she came to the chapter on “long distance love” that she threw the book on the floor and said to herself, “I’ll never love him again after all he’s done to me.”

“A few days later”, she said, “ I  picked up the book and continued reading. I discovered that Jesus said that we were to ‘love our enemies’. Well my husband certainly qualified. It took a few weeks, but I remember the day I baked him a pie and took it to his apartment. It was the beginning of our process of reconciliation.” Yes, with the help of God we can love those who hurt us deeply.

Blessed to Give

Adults and youth alike are attracted to the young man or woman who goes out of his or her way to serve others. Healthy families are producing this kind of young people. As parents we must seek to build an attitude of service into the hearts of our children. Start young by teaching children to be ‘helpers’. Then celebrate their ‘service’ with cheers and accolades. Make ‘service to others’ a big thing in your family.

When children see that serving others is important to you, it will become important to them. Take them with you when you deliver cookies to the elderly. Let them help you shovel snow from the neighbors drive. Children learn by experience that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”