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Want a bad relationship with your teens? Hope they want to leave the house as soon as possible? Is it your goal to make sure they resent you? Well, I have 5 sure-fire ways to make it happen 😉
5 Ways to Hurt Your Relationship With Your Teens
1. Interrupt them when they talk.
This lets them know that you aren’t really listening to them. What you have to say is more important, obviously. So spend more time thinking about what you are about to say, or how you will respond to them, than actually hearing what they are saying.
2. Demand mastery in every subject.
Make sure that they master every subject. It doesn’t really matter if they are interested in that particular subject. It doesn’t matter if it fits with their personality or bent. What is important is that they make A’s in every subject, get high scores on every standardized test. Don’t worry about their stress level—at least they will get scholarships.
3. Dismiss their ideas.
Remind them often that they are young and inexperienced, unlike you. When they are sharing their ideas, be sure to interrupt them (see #1). Add an eye-roll or expressive sigh to really punctuate your feelings.
But, you can give your advice freely and often. Be sure to get mad if they don’t take it. Remember your ideas are the right ones. There is no such thing as different. Everything is simply right or wrong. And your way is right.
4. Criticize them constantly.
How else will they know what they need to fix about themselves if you don’t let them know? Be sure to point out what they are doing wrong, how they can look better, and where their character is lacking—repeatedly and often. Bonus if you can add a lecture to the criticism. Teens always listen better to lectures than when you talk through things.
5. Keep them from their peers.
You are homeschooling them for a reason right? And people in the “real world” have been asking about socialization since homeschooling began, so prove to them that kids don’t need anyone else. Just their parents and siblings.
Add a dose of “angry tone of voice” to any of the above. Maybe even yell a bit to make your point. And go ahead and vent on Social Media about them, just to seal the deal.
I know these things will work! But if for some reason you want a different kind of relationship…
5 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Teens
1. Start listening to your teen.
I mean really listening. Stop talking or thinking about what you want to say next. Talk when they are comfortable—late at night or side-by-side in the car (especially with teen boys). Listen. Ask questions. Bite your tongue (I know it isn’t easy!).
We all long to know that we are truly heard. Let’s give that gift to our teens. The more we listen the more they will want to talk to us.
2. Recognize that high expectations and demanding mastery in every subject are two different things—two different mindsets.
High expectations teach kids to strive to do their best. Demanding mastery is more concerned with grades and accomplishments than effort. And your teens can tell the difference.
Really our kids are just like us in this area. So even though we tend to rise to high expectations, the opposite is true when more is demanded of us that is reasonable. Instead we shut down or become frustrated, stressed, and angry.
3. Validate their ideas.
They actually have some really good ones. And even if they are wrong at times, let them figure it out in a supportive and loving environment. It is amazing how their perspective can help us see things completely different when we look at it from their viewpoint. Yes, we may just learn something from them.
4. Encourage them and build them up.
Help them to learn to rise to the occasion because they know you believe in them, and that they can do it. Be their biggest cheerleader in life and help them see what they can’t see in themselves.
5. Help them develop healthy peer relationships.
Teach them what to look for in a friend and how to be a good friend. And work to provide teens with opportunities to socialize in ways that honor God, your family, and their values. (Several moms in our city plan teen socials for each month to give them a chance to interact in a social setting.) They need community just like you.
There is Hope
I wish I could tell you that I never did any of the 5 Ways to Hurt Your Teen. True, it might not have been in such a harsh way as described above, but did I ever interrupt? Yes. Did I dismiss an idea or criticize? Yes. And even though they are in college now do I sometimes still do the same? Yes.
We are imperfect parents with imperfect teens. But there is grace and forgiveness from God. If you realize that your have hurt your teens in one of these ways, simply go to them. Ask for forgiveness.
Then keep talking and listening.
And if you need some more help, I recommend
Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel
Mother and Son: The Respect Effect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.
And of course, start with God’s Word. You CAN have a good relationship with your teens.
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