I truly feel I got the inside scoop to parenting a teen when working as the Registered Nurse of a high school was probably the best job God assigned to me. I would like to share with you 3 things your teen needs from you now.
My clinic filled up with anything from wound care, emotional breakdowns, to students struggling to survive. God brought student, after student to me. The Holy Spirit revealed to me to dig deeper with them, and I got to know my students. They opened up immediately with me being a nurse with their stories, their hurts, and their pains. Throughout this process, I learned that not only was the Holy Spirit using me tremendously to be able to support them and show His love, but He also was showing me exactly what children need from their parents even as adolescents.
I noticed a common denominator in what the students were saying was that they wished their parents cared about them. I know we love and care for our children as parents, but how do we show them we care? They don’t always know how to ask for what they need or want. I feel like I got the inside scoop to be the best mom I can be to my son now and when he becomes an adolescent, and I want to share that with you.
These are 3 things your teens need now:
Spend Quality Time with Them
Students would tell me that their parents are always working or too busy. A sweet young man came in all the time having anxiety and depression telling me his mom would get home at midnight, and she was always working or had her boyfriend over and didn’t spend time with him. Another girl was struggling babysitting her baby brother on the weekends, and her grades were failing.
- What is something they like to do that you can do with them? Maybe join them in a playing video game. Have a family dinner at the table at least once a week. Take them and a few of their friends out for ice cream. Play Uno with them. Go walking.
- Be intentional about not always being on electronics around them. A junior girl told me how she was struggling so badly with depression, but didn’t feel like she could talk to her mother because her mom was always on the phone and not available for her.
- Sometimes they may not say they need to talk, but being available will help them feel like they can approach you.
Be Understanding and Open-minded
You want them to feel comfortable to be able to talk to you or your spouse about anything they are struggling with even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Even as a school nurse, some of the stories they would tell me were uncomfortable to listen to. However, I wanted to always be sure to listen and ask more questions to find ways to help them or provide them resources.
- Is there another trusted adult that you can tell them they can also talk to such as a best friend of yours, an aunt or uncle, a youth leader at your church?
A lot of my day was with patients who were in struggling with some sort of mental health issue whether it be anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts. 1 in 5 youth aged 13-18 experiences a severe mental disorder at some point in their life according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. In the most serious cases I was a part of, the parents did not believe the student needed help or did not believe their mental health struggle. The student would then not get the resources they needed such as counseling. Just by listening and understanding that their struggle is real, they then feel cared for and can begin the journey to healing from whatever it is they are dealing with.
Sometimes parents want to control every aspect of the teen’s life to make sure they are safe and protected. I encourage being involved as much as possible, and it is normal for them to want independence.
- What are some safe ways they feel like they have freedom in making their own decisions? Is it choosing what the family will have for dinner? Is there a youth service they can go to with some friends?
Pray for Them and Speak Life
Speak identity over them. Tell them all who God created them to be. They are hearing about all of their flaws from their peers on a daily basis at school or on social media. Tell them something you love about them. What are some gifts that God has given them? What is something unique they contribute to the family? Compliment them. Tell them they deserve the best and you want the best for them. Speak life over them.
Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you”
- Your prayers as your child’s parent have the most authority.
Children are not perfect and will mess up. Keep praying for God to give you discernment and the eyes to see what is the root of these actions. Intercede for them in prayer and do not stop. Pray with them. Hold onto God’s promises, even if this season is tough. Show them how to love Jesus.
Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Mom, Dad, they still need you. They still want to be loved. They still want to be around you. Your prayers have power. I hope these tips and stories are good reminders just to be intentional. For more information, I highly suggest listening to a podcast from our friends at DailyPS entitled, “The Struggles of Our Youth and How We Can Help.“
We would love to hear more from you. What are some ways you spend quality time with your children? What other tips would you give parents out there?