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Your Teen's Scene
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With all the hormones racing through their bodies and the new ideas bubbling in their brains, teens can go from sullen to sociable, from contented to cantankerous…all in a relatively short period of time.

Is your teen frustrating you?  Do you often wonder where she’s coming from and what’s going on in her world? Does it seem like he’s from another planet and you’re wondering what happened to the son you thought you knew? Join the club! I’m the proud father of a beautiful teen daughter and I have to admit, it can be maddening at times. It’s kind of strange, because I used to be just like her.

I realize though that I don’t always grasp the teen point of view, which often warrants an emotionally charged situation between us. Discovering more about them can help guide us toward better understanding. Here are a few tips to help us interpret who they are, and where they’re headed:

1. Take a look at who they’re hanging out with.

In his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” John Maxwell makes a valid point; we attract who we are. If you aren’t particularly crazy about your child’s friends, chances are good that your child is probably just like them…they just don’t show that “face” to you. For some parents, this can be a cause for real concern.

2. Discover what media content your adolescent finds most appealing.

We’re a media saturated society, and our children are not immune to the advances of the greedy media “machine.”  What are they watching on television? Where do they travel on the Internet? Are they obsessed with video games of a violent nature? Answers to these and other questions can give you clues to where your child may be seeking meaning and value in this life.

3. Set a non-threatening environment for your teens to really talk.

No one wants to share their hidden secrets with someone who yells and threatens.Our kids want to have an open environment for dialogue with someone that they know truly cares about them.

4. Spend quality time with them.

Your teen enjoys having fun. And whether they tell you or not, they do care what you think. There is nothing more important than our children, and they’re gone much too soon for us not to make them a priority. A grunted “good morning” at the breakfast table, and a “good night, go to bed” in the evening does not constitute quality time. They want to be with you, and you can make the decision to work hard at reciprocating. If you lose your focus, go listen to Harry Chapin’s song, “Cat’s in the Cradle” and make another attempt at re-connecting.

Yes, teens are frustrating. Yes, they don’t always act and talk like we wish they would. But understanding them can move us forward toward influencing them in the future.

They’re worth it, and our time investment will be well spent!

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By Michael Temple. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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