Connecting with your teenager can feel really complicated and difficult. They’re busy and you’re busy and we often feel overwhelmed by all that we have to do.
Or, they make you feel they don’t want you around. Don’t believe it! Research continues to show that parents are the number one influence in a teenagers life.
Each of these ideas can help you make a connection and takes less than 15 minutes. Not all of these may feel right for you and your kids, but look over these suggestions and use or modify them to make the most of your time with your teenagers.
1. TEXT THE LOVE: Send your teen a text everyday of a truth about the way that Christ sees them. Follow it with a Bible Verse that backs it up. here’s how:
Download the Bible app “You Version” to your phone. This app allows you the ability to look up a verse and text it directly to someone. (Try the New Living Translation for easy understanding.) To make it more personal, look up the verses together over dinner.
Some ideas to get you started: • You belong to Christ. (1 Cor. 6:19-20) • God chose you to be His. (Ephesians 1:3-8) • With Christ he takes away fear. (2 Timothy 1:7) • Christ has plans for you that are bigger than you can think! (Jeremiah 29:11) • God sings about you! (Zephaniah 3:17) • God loves you more than you can even dream! (Ephesians 3:18-20)
2. DINNER OF LOVE: Make a favorite dish of everyone in the house for dinner. (Even if it is a strange mix of foods!) Make sure to make your favorite as well! When you sit down for dinner point out who you made each dish for. Use this as a chance to talk about how you did this because your family belongs to you and you love them. Over dinner, ask your children ways that Christ shows their love to them, in bigger ways. Do they see it?
3. THE FACE-TO-FACE CHALLENGE: Start a conversation about something that was great in your day or in your teen’s life. Use this time to tell your teen all the ways in which they are great. When you are done, tell them that the reason they are this way is because God made them this way. Talk to them about how God their Father loves them, more than you could possibly love them. Ask them what they think about this.
4. Download questionsinabox: Download this free app from questionsinbox.com. Take turns using it to ask each other questions to start conversations. Focus on getting to know your teen, and finding out about who they are and what they enjoy. This will help you to get to know your teen and start to hear their struggles. For families who grapple with Father’s not being in the home, this can be a time to start talking about how this affects them.
5. PIZZA AND A ? NIGHT: Sometimes we just need some good old fashioned family time. This week have a night when everyone is home, get a pizza and just hang out. You can watch a movie together. Play a board game. Just spend the night enjoying each other
6. “WHEN YOU WERE LITTLE”: Take out a couple of baby pictures or pictures of your child when they were very young. By the time our youth enter the teen years they think they have forgotten what it means to be “little.” They are so focused on “being grown.” Spend 5- 10 minutes looking at the pictures with your teen and telling them your favorite things about them when they were that age. Talk about memories that were your favorite from when they were young ages.
7. PROVERBS CHALLENGE: Leave a Bible and a journal on the coffee table. Each day read one Proverb and then rewrite it in your own words. Challenge your teen to do the same, in the same journal, then they can see what you are writing and you can see them. You are encouraging the both of you to get into the Bible on the same day!
8. LUNCH BOX NOTES: Three days this week write your teen a small note that encourages them in a way to live for Jesus while at school. Tuck the note into a notebook or lunch. Make it a place where they can find it (but not be embarrassed).
9. 15 MIN DESSERT TIME: Make a 15 minute “date” with your teen this week. Set aside 15 minutes just to sit and talk with the over their favorite dessert.
10. TOGETHER CHORES: What is a chore around the house that your teen might not “know how” to do well? What could you do together that you could show them “how” and “why” you do something? How do you balance a checkbook? Why do you pick certain items up at the grocery story but skip others? How do you iron clothes well?
11. THE “I LOVE YOU” CHALLENGE: At least five times this week stop, and tell your teen that you love them. Then tell them something you love about them, that is NOT a physical attribute. For example: “I love the way that you really are a loyal friend. That is something that is important.
12. DO WHAT THEY LIKE: Make a 15 minute “date” with your teen this week. Set aside 15 minutes just to do something they like to do.
13. FRIDAY FAST FOOD: Take your teen(s) out with the idea of finding out how they are doing. Let them pick their favorite place. Avoid asking “yes” or “no” questions. Instead ask questions that get them talking. Instead of, “How’s your friend?” ask “Tell me one thing that made you happy this week.”
14. FUN AND FAVORITE: This week, do something with your teen that is a favorite activity. If not make them their favorite meal. Use this time to talk about all of your teen’s “favorites.” When is the last time you told each other your favorite song, food, movie, etc.
15. FIVE MORNING MINUTES: Sometimes it is hard to sit and “talk” face to face. Using a notebook spend five minutes every morning writing a short note to your teen about why you love them and what you are proud of them for. Put the notebook in their room or backpack. Encourage your teen that this notebook is a safe place to tell you their feelings as well. You can use it as a written dialogue to “talk’ when it isn’t easy.
16. “I’M SORRY” NOTES: Sit down with your teen and discuss the last time you had a disagreement that didn’t go well. Did you hurt each other in it? Take a few minutes to write each other a note explaining why you are sorry for the way you handled yourself. (Did you yell? Did they say mean words?) Then make sure to write a line of why you love your teen.
17. I LOVE YOU STILL: Take two minutes today to tell or text one reason why you love your teen. End it with, “I love you still, even when we disagree.” Sometimes when we don’t get along our teens think that we don’t love them.
18. WHAT YOU SEE: Stand in front of a mirror with your teen for 30 seconds. (Longer may make them uncomfortable.) Tell them all the wonderful things you see staring back at you.
19. WHAT YOU “CAN’T” SEE: Write a note to your teen and hang it up in their room or on their mirror. In the note include all of the wonderful things you love about your teen that maybe they “can’t” see for themselves. If you would rather find a picture of something beautiful or magnificent. (A rainbow, a mountain range, etc.) with the caption, “When I look at you I see God’s reflection.” He is the creator so he is reflected in everything.
20. MAGAZINE CRAWL: Get ahold of any popular magazine. (Preferably one with celebrities in it. It can be fashion, sports or health.) Look through the magazine together. On each page either in ads or articles, discuss how it nudges you to want to be “something”. Some pictures “say” things just by showing us a skinny girl or a guy with a six pack of muscles. Count all of the ways just this one magazine is “talking“ to you. Discuss ways you can learn to ignore the world in this way.
21. WHO DO YOU WISH?: In the car or before bed sit down and talk to your teen about those people in the media you wish you looked like. Have a discussion on how God made you the way you are for a purpose.
22. THIS WAS ME: Show your teen a picture of yourself when you were in High School. Talk about the styles then. How did your own friends affect what you wore or how you saw yourself? (Even if not at all)
23. STYLE WATCH: Sit down with your teen and talk for 2 minutes about their own sense of style. Why do they wear what they wear? Why is it popular? Is there something they would like to wear but are afraid others won’t like it?
24. PICTURE PERFECT: Copy a recent picture of your teen or send it to them in an email. On the back of the picture, or in the body of the email talk about all the qualities you see that are “Christ’s” reflection. How are they kind? Compassionate? A servant? When people see them, how do others see Jesus?
25. PERSONAL SERVICE: One of the best ways that we can show Christ to others is through serving them. Pick a neighbor or a friend and find a small way to “serve” them with your teen. Could you bake them cookies? Could you both mow their lawn? It can be the offer to do anything small, that shows a gesture of Christ’s love.