If you are a parent of a preteen or teenager… congratulations! Parenting the teenage years are some of the most challenging, yet potentially promising years of your kids’ childhood. Of our four children, we currently have two teenagers and one preteen in the house, which results in finding and facing new challenges almost daily. Can you relate? And if you haven’t already noticed, your kids are going to be changing more in these few, short years of their lives both physically and mentally than any of the others. Character will be shaped. Beliefs will be solidified. And life-altering decisions will be made.
This means that these years hold the potential to shape and steer the rest of their lives for either the good or the bad. During these preteen/teen years, it is crucial that parents don’t lessen their involvement in their child’s life, but intentionally maintain, and even sometimes, increase it. Here are 5 ideas that every parent of a teen should do more often to help you successfully navigate these in-between years.
1. Go into your kid’s room.
Look around. See what they’re interested in. Soak in the memories you have of them. Pray for their future. Stop and ask yourself, “How long has it been since I spent a few minutes walking through my child’s room and just looking around, seeing what they are passionate about, and being thankful for them?”
2. Inspect their device(s).
See who and what they’re texting. Look at their social media accounts (assuming you have all their passwords and full access, as you should). Check out the types of apps and games they’re downloading. Ignorance of technology is not an excuse. Your child’s media consumption is shaping their identity. As their parent, you have an obligation to monitor, filter, and even control it.
3. Get to know their friends.
Have them over to your house. Spend time with them. Take your child and their friends out to eat just to get to know them better. Your child’s friends will shape your child’s future. So take the time to get to invest in them and get to know them.
4. Ask lots of questions.
Your preteen or teen is going through a time of their life where they have tons of questions, whether they’re asking them or not. They are likely even questioning what they believe about life and truth. Asking them questions regularly gives them an opportunity to talk about things that they might not otherwise mention or ever open up to you about. Simple questions like “How are you doing…” “ What are your thoughts about this…” “How does that make you feel…” “What do you think is right or wrong in this situation…” are great questions to ask. Download our Q & U app for all types of questions.
5. Pray with them and for them.
Navigate these important years by praying together often. Seek wisdom for the decisions you have to make, and encourage your child to do the same. I believe regular conversations with each other and with God are vital to their success and yours during these crucial, yet valuable years. They also help remind you that you’re both on the same team.
If you’re a parent of a teen or tween, don’t rush through these years of your child’s life and development. Be intentional. Stay engaged. Invest wisely. Because these are years you will never get back.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is going well in your life right now and what is one thing you would change?”