Being a teenager can’t be easy. I vaguely remember being there and it wasn’t always a walk in the park. However being the parent of a teen isn’t a breeze either, and this is completely new territory for me. There are days when we’re all laughing and having a blast. Then there are other days when nothing I say can bring a smile to their face and all I get are grumbles. Today is one of the hard ones. For whatever reason, my child isn’t talking to me.
I know what you’re probably thinking. In theory, this seems a simple problem to solve. We sit down, talk with our kid, they answer our questions, and we move forward together after a quick pep talk and a hug. In reality, this can be quite a challenge. Often, our child doesn’t wish to talk. Talking is out of the question. This makes figuring out the issue significantly more difficult. In fact, sometimes trying to force our children to talk can create even bigger issues. Our children become more grumpy, mean, and feel pressured. They just want space and we’re invading. What then? How do we deal with their lack of desire to communicate or even be pleasant?
Prayer – You’ve heard it before. You’ll hear it again. From now till kingdom come. Prayer first. I can do nothing. I cannot change this little person’s heart. But God can. I need prayer. Prayer for me; prayer for my child; prayer for the situation. I pray and keep on praying until the Lord resolves the issue. And then pray He help us continue on in peace.
Set Aside Emotion – This hurts, I’m not going to lie. I haven’t done anything wrong. We’ve even made a point of reaching out to our child. Their harsh words and actions slice us to the core, bringing pain. As much as this cuts, we need to push our feelings to the side and handle the situation maturely. This isn’t about how our child makes us feel; this is about our children being separated from us and probably God. This is about much-needed restoration.
Evaluate – So let’s be honest with ourselves. I might not think I’ve done something wrong, but perhaps I’ve done something which unknowingly bothered my child. This doesn’t justify their actions, but might contribute to the current situation. On the other hand, maybe this has nothing to do with me and my child has a physical need. This might be a spiritual battle. Here’s a tough one… It might be that my child’s personal choices during free time are affecting them. What are they watching, listening to, and reading? To the best of my ability, I need to evaluate what’s been going on and try to get to the bottom of it.
Reach Out – Even if my child responds unfavorably, I need to make an attempt at showing love and letting them know I’m here for them. It might be a hug, a kind word, a smile, or a note to say I care. I will continue to act gently towards them so the doors of communication are left open. I’m here, ready when they are.
Keep Trying – It would be grand if my child immediately apologized and everything was restored after a smile from me and a few well-placed words. How I wish this happened more often. Instead, we try. We try again. And we keep trying. We ask the Lord to show us when to speak and when to remain silent; allowing Him to reach their hearts. No matter what, we don’t give up.
Allow for Space – As just mentioned, sometimes the Lord needs us to remain silent. We let our child know we’re here for them. We smile often and ask them to join in. Then, we step back and let the Lord work. God wants this relationship restored even more than I do. I need to trust He is doing the work and be open to His leading.
Be Chill – When our child finally does wish to talk, or of their own accord involves themselves in an activity, we need to not make a big deal of it. For my kids, this tends to draw attention to the child who simply wishes to fly under the radar. Instead we act calmly and, afterwards, gently – privately – thank them for joining in or let them know how much we had fun with them. Inwardly, I’m soaring and feel like dancing. But on the outside I’m chill.
By nature I’m a people-pleaser. So when my child isn’t happy I take it personally. I evaluate and re-evaluate what I did wrong. Then I get angry when I come to the conclusion I haven’t done anything wrong and my child is just unhappy with me. These are natural reactions, but neither are helpful or healing. Through the leading of Christ, I am reminded to pray, set aside my personal feelings, and focus on the needs of my child. In Him will this relationship be restored and my kiddo once again made whole.
Being a teen isn’t easy. They have a lot going on both mentally and physically. Being the parent of a teen can feel like a struggle. It helps to remember this is just one day of many. By the grace of God we will see this through and come out to the other side.
“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”
~ Isaiah 54:13
Your Turn!: Sometimes I feel alone in this struggle. How do you handle difficult parenting days?