Category: Teenagers

Q&A: I've observed that Christian parents aren't reinforcing the truth that women ought to dress modestly. Do you have an opinion?

Well I must confess that I sometimes have the same feeling when I simply walk around in public places and see young ladies or teenagers dressed in ways that are very provocative. I want to take this question as an opportunity to say to parents: Please understand the difference between males and females. Men are sexually attracted by sight and the way a woman dresses draws the attention of a man toward her or he simply sees her and respects her as a woman. How she dresses makes a huge difference in how he responds. So I hope parents will hear what we’re saying and will take this seriously and have honest conversations with their young daughters about this.


Conversations with Your Teen Child

When your child becomes a teenager you must stop preaching and start teaching.

I grew up in a generation where preachers and teachers were highly respected, but very different in delivery. The preacher was forceful, always passionate and dogmatic. The teacher was more conversational in tone, never overtly passionate, and allowed questions.

Raise your voice with your teenager and he will turn elsewhere for advice. Learn the art of asking questions. For example, “How do you think most students reacted to the burning of the American flag last week?” Affirm their ideas before sharing yours. “That’s an interesting way of looking at it. Let me share my perception.” With teenagers, conversations are more effective than sermons.

Open to Advice

In most cases, parents are older than their teenagers. With increased age there is increased wisdom. Teens desperately need the wisdom of adults. But why is it that they often reject our advice? I think it is because they feel unloved. They are not sure that we are really interested in them. When we don’t express interest in their events or condemn them for their dress or music, we come across as judgmental. They tune us out.

If you want your teen to receive your wisdom, then speak all five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time and physical touch. Give heavy doses of their primary language and when they are secure in your love, they will be open to your advice.



Affirmation Before Information

The most important building block of parent-teen relationships is love! Most parents sincerely love their teenagers but thousands of teens do not feel loved. For most parents, it is not a matter of sincerity but rather lack of information on how to effectively communicate love. We are so concerned about the teens behavior, that we often come across as condemning and the teen feels rejected.

When you need to instruct a teenager, make sure you speak love before you give the instructions. Give affirmation before you give information. For example, “I really appreciate the energy you spent in washing your car. It looks nice. Now, let’s be sure to keep that shiny car below the speed limit; otherwise, it will be my car for the next two days.”


Feeling Unloved

When I wrote my book, The Five Love Languages of Teenagers, I was surprised to learn how many teens feel unloved by their parents. It’s not that the parents don’t love them. The problem is that the teen does not feel loved. When teenagers feel unloved, they are far more likely to become sexually active, start using drugs and get involved in trouble with the law.

The answer? Learn to speak the love language of your teenager. What are the five love languages? Words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time and physical touch. Out of these five, your teen has a primary love language. If you speak it your teen will feel loved, if you don’t the love tank will be empty. Much of the teens miss-behavior comes from an empty love tank.


Learn to Talk Softly

The most significant influence on the life of a teenager comes from parents. It may surprise you, but it’s true. Oh, teens are influenced by their peers but they are far more influenced by their parents.  That is why we must be certain that we are having a positive influence. One teen said, “My father yells and screams at me; telling me to stop yelling and screaming at him.” Do you understand what the teen is saying? The father’s model is far more important than the father’s words.

If you want teens to stop yelling and screaming, then stop yelling and screaming at them. The Scriptures say, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” Learn to talk softly with your teen and your teen will learn to speak softly to you.


Panic Mode

I think it is safe to say that in no generation has the task of parenting teenagers been more perplexing than at the present time. Teenage violence is no longer limited to the fictional world of movies. Many of the parents I meet are in the panic mode. Especially if their own teen is sexually active or using drugs. So what’s a parent to do?

It may surprise you, but I think you should start by apologizing to your teenager for your own failures. None of us are perfect. We have all failed to be kind, loving and encouraging to our teens from time to time. When you apologize, you open the door to the possibility of building a better relationship with your teen. It’s the place to start.