Reconnecting a Disconnected Family
In last month’s edition, we were working on solving the problem of being a disconnected generation. Sure we have our high speed internet connections, our iPods, our Xboxes, and our high-tech homes, but we’ve lost the most important connection—that direct connection to the heart of our teenager!
Perhaps it’s common in todays’ society for parents and teens to have a great relational divide, but that doesn’t mean it’s “normal” or that it’s right. More than ever your teenager needs a strong connection to your heart, and there’s no easy, quick fix to having it. Nurturing a relationship takes time and deliberate action. Now is the time, and last month we discussed the first three actions—pray together consistently, play together abundantly, and resolve conflict immediately. Let’s look at the final four steps to reconnecting.
Nurture the heart faithfully. What does this mean? It means to get below the surface in your conversation. It means to spend enough time together that your connection goes deeper. You cannot force this, but you can create an environment where it will happen naturally. If your teen is closed up to you, then it may take more time, but persist and pursue! Don’t’ give up.
This also means you shepherd the heart with good things. Break out of your parental lecture mode and sit down and say nothing but good positive things to your teen, one on one for a solid hour. Tell him what you are proud of. Tell her how much you love her. Recognize and call attention to the good things he is accomplishing and the little victories that you may have missed.
Serve together joyfully. This is one of the best secrets of church life! Parents and teens can serve God together. Get on a bus route, go soulwinning together, do something together for others! Some months ago, I took my boys soulwinning and had been praying that they would be able to be present as I led someone to Christ. That night, we visited a family and led a dear mother and her 19 year old son to Christ. It was wonderful, and the fact that my boys were there to see it made it even more wonderful. We celebrated by getting a milkshake together afterwards! We’ll never forget that moment. Serve God with your teenager. God will use it greatly in their lives.
Respond to intuition tenaciously. What we call “intuition” a godly parent should call “the leading of the Holy Spirit.” Too often, we as parents feel that we have to reason away our intuition because we don’t have a “good reason” for feeling the way we do. Since when do you have to explain your reasons for obeying the leading of God in your heart. When God places a hesitation on your heart—about a friend, about a party, about an event—no matter the case, go with God. Explain to your teen that you can’t fully explain, but that God isn’t giving you a peace about it. Whatever you do, obey the Holy Spirit. On more than a few occasions my wife and I have said “no” only to find out later that God was using that “no” to protect our kids from something very dangerous.
Finally, purify your home tenaciously. The Devil often gets to our kids through the back door of things we’re selfishly holding on to as parents. Are you willing to give up what might be harmful to your teenager? Many parents are not. These are called “strong-holds” and until you pull them down by the power of God, you won’t get very far in leading your teenagers heart to being open to God. Music, movies, internet, and a host of other things need to be either removed or completely moderated in our homes to protect our hearts and the hearts of our children.
Reconnecting isn’t easy. It will take work, time, and focus. It will cost you something, but the product is well worth it. Do you know your teenager? Well? If I asked your teen how good of a friendship they have with you, what would they say? The clock is ticking. In just a few short years they will be leaving your nest. Make the most of the relationship while you have it, and may God give you the grace and courage to reconnect and stay connected.
Written by Cary Schmidt
Originally Printed in the May 2006 Baptist Voice
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