“When your child feels loved, they are much easier to discipline, train and communicate with than when their “emotional tank” is running near empty.”
Be a role model: Parents need to openly demonstrate love and affection for each other. Let them see that love is not just for the young, but will be experienced throughout a good marriage. Single parents need help from others. The male role model is vital. It has been shown that if a daughter doesn’t get the appropriate love and affection from her father she’ll go looking for it elsewhere. Is the life you’re living a good model for your child? Do you want them to repeat your lifestyle? Are you encouraging strong values and faith in your teens?
Provide emotional intimacy for your children: Imagine being in Japan in a crowded city street where people are speaking loudly, yet you have no idea what they are saying. Suddenly, you hear someone speaking in your native tongue. You turn in excitement, knowing that someone understands your language and you are able to communicate. The same is true of our love language. “The Five Love Languages of Teenagers”, written by Gary Chapman, is an excellent resource in knowing how to connect with your child. By speaking your child’s own love language, you can fill their “emotional tank” with love. When your child feels loved, they are much easier to discipline, train and communicate with than when their “emotional tank” is running near empty. All of us need these ways to connect, but we excel in one specific love language and when spoken, connection happens. They are:
- Words of encouragement
- Quality time
- Gift giving
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch and Closeness
Reading this book will provide a whole new way in communicating with your child.
Teach them to make good decisions: Teach them to think through the consequences of their actions. If they make wrong choices, allow them to take the responsibility of the consequences but discuss with them how they could have made a better decision, so they will be able to be better equipped for the next time.
Discuss with them where to draw the line sexually: Discuss the benefits of waiting to have sex until marriage. Don’t be afraid to use the word WRONG. Talk candidly about the health risks of noncommittal and/or premarital sex. If your child asks about your experience as a teen, be honest! If they sense you are lying, they may tune you out with anything else you have to say. They need to know you may have gone through similar pressure. If you fell to peer pressure of premarital sex, tell them of any regrets you may have had and why. Parents, you need to know the facts and be very knowledgeable before you speak on the subject. Youth will not listen if they think they know more than you do. For example, talk in personal terms about the meaning of one of the health risks. Stress the risk factors that drugs and alcohol play in unwanted sex. Help them know how to say no and mean no, and know how far you will go in a dating setting.
Talk to them: How informed and comfortable are you on the subject of sex? Teens actually want to talk to their parents about this subject. Do you discuss tough topics and share opinions with your teens? Do you set guidelines and maintain high expectations? Talk to them about how to choose friends wisely, resist peer pressure and to discern love vs. infatuation. Stress to them the consequences of noncommittal and/or premarital sex and the freedom with abstinence. If they are already sexually active, encourage them to start over. Use word pictures such as: If you don’t control your appetites, they will control you. Help them to understand how self-discipline NOW, helps you in many areas of your life.
Listen to your teen: How much of your conversation with your teen is spent in talking? Do you get accused of “lecturing?” Are you listening to your child’s body language? Do you share your teen’s hopes (with warmth and encouragement) for a great future? Do you know what interests them? Do you know about your teen’s activities and friends?
Teach them to respect their dates: Discuss with them that people are valuable, and to treat their date as such; to be valued and respected. Help them to understand that their date may be someone else’s future spouse, so they should treat them with the same respect they’d want their future spouse to be treated with.
Provide a fun and positive environment: Encourage your children to bring their friends home. Make sure they know their friends are always welcome in your home. If your children are a home you will get to know their friends and you will know what they are doing.
Help your child set a goal in life: Better yet, find out what goals your child desires and help them realize the relationships they have now may impact these future goals.
Be involved in your child’s life: A close relationship with your teen is dependent on building a strong relationship with them as children. Dads should take their adolescent daughters on a “date”. Their daughters will not only form a bond with their father, but also have a concept of how they should be treated when they are old enough to date. Boys, as well as girls, are far less likely to be sexually active if they have open communication with their mothers.
Parents – BE YOUR TEEN’S BEST TEACHER: You should be the number one resource of information for your teen. Don’t neglect that opportunity and responsibility.
These are the 5 areas of influence in a child’s life –
- Values – Your values do have an influence!
- Peers – Do you know who your child is hanging out with and what their values are?
- Risky Behavior – this could include gang activity, drugs/alcohol, early dating (studies1 show that if a girl begins dating at age 12, 91% are sexually active before they graduate¹)
- Personality – Some kids are just wired to live life on the edge!
- Information – Information without value doesn’t have the impact (i.e. TV, music, reading material…)
Time: Time is the most important investment you can make in the life of your child. How much of your day is spent with your child? Studies show that children spend about 17 hrs/week with their parent versus 23hrs/week watching TV². Do you enjoy meals and family time with your teen?
Share your values and faith: Parents and grandparents need to share in words or writing their deeply cherished values and faith. It can be very positive to write your teen a letter. Do not worry about how it is said. Any kind of expression of love will be cherished because it is from you.
Above all, keep the family’s standards high and believe in your children!
1 ABC’s of the Birds and Bees by Marilyn Morris; p48
2 Source: BLS American Time Use Survey, A.C. Nielsen Co. http://www.statisticbrain.com/television-watching-statistics/