Ready for one of my favorite articles? Sarah wrote me asking me if I could share this one again. She said that her computer crashed losing articles of ours that she had collected for the past 6 years (THANKS! WHAT AN HONOR!). This article is one that she reads regularly. Soooo, I am more than happy to bring it back out and dust it off. I pray that it blesses all of you! Ready? Let’s dig in….
Well, he graduated! For real! After 13 years of homeschooling, my BABY graduated! Just ONE MONTH ago today! Talk about a mushy, mushy month!
The last month has been simply my most favorite ever. We have had some of the most incredible discussions… more late night talks than ever…and more laughs and tears (mushy ones!) than I could ever have imagined!
I have gotten quite a bit of email and letters lately asking HOW we got here. This meaning, how do you capture your teens heart so that you have THIS type of relationship with an 18-year-old son???? A 15- year-old daughter???? How do ya get there? Well, after much prayer and many long, long discussions, here are a few things that I think make the difference! Ready? Let’s dig in…
* BE (AND STAY!) CONNECTED! Teens NEED connection. They literally seek after connection. Make sure that their number one connection is at home! How? Listen! Listen–AND KEEP YOUR MOUTH COMPLETELY SHUT!!!!! Talk. Really talk with them. NOT AT THEM! As long as they are talking to you, there is an open door that satan cannot close. During these years, make it your number one goal to keep strong lines of communication with your teen. Yes, you will be instructing, guiding, counseling…but, remember your teen years when you do. How did people “get in” to you? Yep. Respecting you as a person, respecting your opinions, valuing your insights, and caring more about YOU than their own preferences. Your teen is a WHOLE person. They need for you to respect, value, and treasure them…and everything about them. If you want to capture their heart, the best way to do so is to stay in the position that keeps them talking and listening to you. Don’t let ANYTHING isolate you! Be connected. Stay connected!
* CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES.Yep! Heard this one? Tuning me out? Well, if so, you are PROBABLY tuning out your teen as well! (Sorry! Truth hurts!) If you have heard this one, there is probably a very good reason. There is MUCH wisdom in this one statement. You cannot enter the teen years battling with your teen. If there is a battle with them on every front, there is a very serious problem. Solving this problem begins with US as parents. Just as in a marriage or in real combat, during the teen years you cannot win the real battle when fighting in the foxhole with your fellow soldier. You will have different ways to battle. They are entering into their own adulthood. They will do things much, much different than we do things. And…for much of it, it is MUCH, MUCH better than we could ever imagine. Our teens do not see things the same way that we do. Quite frankly, I am ever learning and ever growing from my teens’ perspectives and beliefs. They constantly challenge me to step up higher and higher. And…this is what I have trained them up for! What about your teens? Have you stopped lately to just see things through their eyes? Have you listened to their heartbeat? If we want to capture their heart, we MUST know their heart. We must choose an intimate relationship over our preferences (some of our preferences are really weird. beloved friends!!!). We must choose their hearts over our quirks! Who knows, we JUST MIGHT BE WRONG!!! Let me give an example! A while back we were shopping in town. My daughter wanted a pair of shoes. Now, they were the ugliest pair of shoes I had seen in a while. I instantly told her no–no thoughts, except that they were ugly and I did not want her to wear clothes because “everyone else did.” She had a look on her face that communicated that she was stunned at my decision. She asked one more time–ugh, that IS against the rules that we have had THROUGH THE YEARS! Something hit me. I decided I would make MY POINT by asking her a question (never knowing that God would teach ME a point! Ugh…why is it ALWAYS ME learning???). My question was very simple, “WHY do you want those shoes so badly?” Want to know her answer? She said, “They make me taller!” Yep! It cracked me up. Yep! I bought them! OH! If it was NOT peer-pressure or fashion or pleasing others…I was OK. Just wanted to be taller!????!????! That was the moment that I figured out that I might just be wrong at times! I might just miss it! I might just need to choose my battles with a bit more “intel.” I might be making a mountain out of NOTHING…not even a molehill! Their hearts are sooo much more important than our JUNK! Our relationship is much, much more important than my silly quirks and assumptions. Maybe there IS NOTHING behind the shoes…the ugly bracelets (Elisabeth told me just Saturday about a boy that is visiting our church who had heard that she was a REAL Christian–he heard because someone remembered seeing her (UGLY) bracelet and they talked about HER being the REAL THING!!! HELLO!). Maybe it is time to get beyond my own understanding and get God’s! In the meantime, that just might capture the heart of the teens we love so much!
* GET RID OF PRE-CONCEIVED STUFF!Yep…kinda the same thing as the last point…but we need to really say it, “Get rid of the pre- conceived ideas.” Those quirky ideas! Maybe it is music. Maybe it is clothes. While we have very high standards in our home, my teens respect and embrace those standards because they know that they can present an idea to us and we will talk it out to see if OUR perspective is valid or if we need to not compromise. This is a very fine line. Yet, our children respect if we are uncomfortable with anything. They honor our convictions. They bring things to us that most parents have NO idea that their homeschooled teens are dealing with. They know that they can trust us to give a very serious thought to the things that they bring us. BUT, we had to let go of a lot of JUNK that we had made a big deal of when they were just babies (ugh…maybe we were REALLY more rebellious than they would ever be????). We had to let go of the STUFF in favor of a real relationship with them. We have committed to seek for their heart above all else. And…in turn they have embraced those things that we are REALLY committed to–beginning with our Lord! Capture their hearts. Get rid of the stuff that would chase them away!
* SPLIT THE DIFFERENCES!Balance guidance with friendship! Respect them. They are young adults. If they are not where you want for them to be in maturity or godliness, why not back-off a bit? Respect them. Venture to get to know their hearts and minds. There is probably MUCH, MUCH more in there than you imagine. Yet, if we do not respect them, we will not get to know that side of them. In fact, if we do not respect them, we may be the very one to weaken them instead of strengthening them. Respect them. They will want to hear and do what we recommend. But, only with balance!
* REALLY SUPPORT THEM! Support them as they go through the TEEN STUFF–rejection, fears, battles with purity, seeking God’s plan, need for purpose and direction, preparation for their own home and family… They do not need for us to train them to run away from the teen stuff. Rather, they need to know how to handle those tough things the very best way. As parents of teens, this is one of the best opportunities to see what our children are really “made of” right before our eyes. They don’t need for us to “handle” the situation for them. Rather, they need for us to be there as a support for them as they walk through the tough times. They need for us to slow down to really KNOW what they are going through. Understand it. Support them! Just give this a try and you will capture their heart!
* FIND WHAT GETS THEM TALKING — AND LISTEN! For my daughter, she loves “GIRL-TIME” with me. Lunches at a nice, quiet, private restaurant just seem to compel her to really talk to me. I love those moments! She does too! Those will forever seal our relationship. They speak more than a million words to her. They communicate that I really care. She knows more than almost anyone that I do not have TIME…but, that I will take it for HER to know her and her heart! My son just pours out like crazy when we drive somewhere…or right before bed. Those are the moments that are my greatest treasure in life. I treasure that they trust me with their hearts and minds. I cannot overstate that this is one of the most vital ways to capture their hearts!!! Keep communication open. Then, they will willingly give you their hearts!
* BE REAL! Let them really know YOU! Ugh…they already do! The down-side. They know your crud! Sooo, why not take more time to let them know your heart! Let them know your dreams. Let them know your desires. Let them know your heart struggles. Let them know how much you really desire to be more than you are. Let them know how you battle with the same things that they may not like about you! And…the same things that they battle with. Do you know what that ALONE will do to capture your child’s heart??? Let them IN! Let them see “your side” of things. Let them see that you battle each day just like they do. Let them see your dreams. Let them see your desires. Let them see what you love. Let them watch you grow through mistakes. Let them see you seek after God! Be real and you will capture their hearts when others turn away their teens.
Oh, beloved, this is one of the most important things I could write today. I challenge you to really consider how YOU can capture your child’s heart.
I have a few friends who are my most favorite homeschool pals. They were the “perfect” homeschool moms. Yet, one day everything that they thought mattered had to go. One friend called me one day to let me know that she needed my prayers desperately, her daughter had run away from home. All of a sudden nothing else mattered but getting her back! All of a sudden nothing else mattered but capturing her heart!
Wondering what happened? Well, great news! Her daughter came back home. They worked on their relationship as never before. They let go of the things that were insignificant compared to the riches of a real relationship. Now, they have one of the most incredible relationships that I have ever seen! God has restored their relationship beyond where it ever could have been. It is what He desires for our relationships with our children to become.
SO, WHERE ARE YOU TODAY???
Have you captured your teens heart? Keep on beloved! God has so many riches in store for you. The relationship you build today will be one of your greatest treasures tomorrow.
Are you needing to undo some damage? Are you growing further and further away? Do you have no idea where to begin? Why not go back over these points and see if there is something that is just pulling at your heart? Why not let some of the STUFF go? Why not purpose to build a strong relationship with your teen? Why not repent openly before them? This could be the moment that changes the course of your relationship with your child forever! God IS a restorer of broken relationships. He wants to restore this relationship for you too! Surrender to His sweet, sweet call right now.
Can you just see the vision before us? What do you want for a relationship tomorrow? Capture the heart of your teen today!
Recommended Resources (Grab these for HALF OFF!):
Ministering to the Heart of Your Child book by Cindy Rushton
Ministering to the Heart of Your Child Bible Study by Cindy Rushton
Ministering to the Heart of Your Child Study Set (recorded in Talk-a-Latte–Includes book, Bible Study, and weekly classes teaching through the books over 10 sessions–OUR SUGGESTION!)
Use Coupon Code ALLTHINGSNEW to save 50%!