I have often wondered why so many preachers and parents think that as soon as their son or daughter turns thirteen that it is normal for a rebellious stage in life to begin. The Bible promises us that if we train up a child in the WAY he should go, he will NOT depart from it. That does not mean he will come back after ruining his life in the world for three, five, twenty years. It means just what it says. That if we do our jobs as parents, that our children will serve God their entire lives.
One of the main complaints of parents of teenagers is that their son or daughter won’t talk to them. We counsel them to talk to their teen. To ask them how their day went. To ask them who their friends are in school. We tell them to sit at the table with them for at least 30 minutes a day to TRY to start a conversation. It is sad, but most often it takes a long time and a lot of pain to actually start to break down the walls that have been building up for years. The problem is not something that started on the child’s thirteenth birthday and the answer is not something that can happen in one day either.
So how did this happen? How is it that the child that used to have a smile on his or her face and come running up to you after coming home from school to show you a color drawing they did turn into a moody teenager that refuses to speak to you? How is it that the child that used to ask you a million and one questions about everything now think you as the parent haven’t got the slightest clue? The answer is it started with mom and dad.
What happened was that when that sweet child came running up to you to show you his color drawing, you were too busy to take a look. When they pulled on you for attention, you told them, “Not now”. When they asked you why the sky is blue and the clouds are white you told them, “Don’t bother me”. For years and years your child has come to you over and over again asking for attention, asking questions, seeking your advice, and instead of giving it to them, you have pushed them away and put them off over and over again. Now they are thirteen and you can see clearly that you only have a few years left until they go off to college, but unfortunately it is almost too late.
Mommies of the world, don’t give up! When your precious two year old, three year old, five year old comes to you with question after question, STOP what you are doing and give them your attention! Take the time to answer the question and the question that comes after that! At dinner, STOP serving and worrying about cleaning up the dishes. SIT and talk with your children. Ask them what they learned at school. Ask them who their friends are. Ask them who they sit with at lunch. When they bring that color drawing, stop and turn around and actually LOOK at what they are showing you. Say WOW and tell them they did a good job. That is all they need to hear! They just want you to be proud of them! As moms it is so easy to criticize. We forget that part of our job is also to build them up so they have the confidence to go out and conquer the world.
Tonight right before bed time, my four year old asked me, “Who is God?”. “What did God make?” “Did God make the trees?” “Did God make the Bible?” and so on it went for about twenty minutes. What a blessing! It would have been so easy to just answer one question and send him off to bed. It was good for his soul and our relationship for me to sit an extra 20 minutes and answer all his questions… and he had a lot!
Mommies I challenge you. Take 20 minutes today and actually TALK to your children. Do that everyday and when they are thirteen, fourteen, sixteen… you won’t be calling me up asking how to get your teenager to talk to you!
Is it too late? Is your child already a teenager that refuses to speak with you? Please read “How to break down the wall of silence between you and your teenager” for practical parenting tips.