Dr. Gary Chapman
I think it is safe to say that in no generation has the task of parenting teenagers been more perplexing than at the present time. Teenage violence is no longer limited to the fictional world of movies. Many of the parents I meet are in the panic mode. Especially if their own teen is sexually active or using drugs. So what's a parent to do?
It may surprise you, but I think you should start by apologizing to your teenager for your own failures. None of us are perfect. We have all failed to be kind, loving, and encouraging to our teens from time to time. When you apologize, you open the door to the possibility of building a better relationship with your teen. It's the place to start.
Influences and Role Models
The most significant influence on the life of a teenager comes from parents. It may surprise you, but it's true. Oh, teens are influenced by their peers, but they are far more influenced by their parents. That is why we must be certain that we are having a positive influence. One teen said, "My father yells and screams at me; telling me to stop yelling and screaming at him." Do you understand what the teen is saying? The father's model is far more important than the father's words.
If you want teens to stop yelling and screaming, then stop yelling and screaming at them. The Scriptures say, "A soft answer turns away wrath." Learn to talk softly with your teen and your teen will learn to speak softly to you.
When I wrote my book: The Five Love Languages of Teenagers, I was surprised to learn how many teens feel unloved by their parents. It's not that the parents don't love them. The problem is that the teen does not feel loved. When teenagers feel unloved, they are far more likely to become sexually active, start using drugs, and get involved in trouble with the law.
The answer? Learn to speak the love language of your teenager. What are the five love languages? Words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Out of these five, your teen has a primary love language. If you speak it, your teen will feel loved, if you don't the love tank will be empty. Much of the teen's misbehavior comes from an empty love tank.
The most important building block of parent-teen relationships is love! Most parents sincerely love their teenagers, but thousands of teens do not feel loved. For most parents, it is not a matter of sincerity, but rather lack of information on how to effectively communicate love. We are so concerned about the teens behavior that we often come across as condemning. And, the teen feels rejected.
When you need to instruct a teenager, make sure you speak love before you give the instructions. Give affirmation before you give information. For example, "I really appreciate the energy you spent in washing your car. It looks nice. Now, let's be sure to keep that shiny car below the speed limit; otherwise, it will be my car for the next two days."
In most cases, parents are older than their teenagers. With increased age there is increased wisdom. Teens desperately need the wisdom of adults. But why is it that they often reject our advice? I think it is because they feel unloved. They are not sure that we are really interested in them. When we don't express interest in their events, condemn them for their dress or music, we come across as judgmental. They tune us out.
If you want your teen to receive your wisdom, then speak all five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time and physical touch. Give heavy doses of their primary language and when they are secure in your love, they will be open to your advice.
Wondering what your teen's love language is? Check out the online assessment.
Adapted from The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers by Dr. Gary Chapman. To find out more about Dr. Chapman's resources, visit http://www.5lovelanguages.com/.
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The Love Language Profile for Teenagers
The 5 Love Languages
The 5 Love Languages DVD (DPTV)
The 5 Love Languages The Five Languages of Apology
Susie Larson ~ Author/Speaker Growing Grateful Children
Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places
Saturday, May 1: Growing Grateful Children
Building Relationships Radio
Tune in to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, the weekly radio broadcast brought to you by Moody Radio and Moody Publishers. Listen live online Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. CST at moodyradio.org, check your local radio station, or download free podcasts and get more information.
May 8, 2010: Many of us are missing out on God’s best because we don’t cultivate a thankful heart. On this edition of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, Nancy Leigh DeMoss joins us as we celebrate Mother’s Day and the theme of gratitude. If there’s any segment of the population we should be grateful for, it’s mothers. Join us for this uplifting conversation that could change your outlook on life. The featured resources for this broadcast is Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh Demoss.
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