Have you noticed that teens are tight lipped? For a myriad of reasons—usually intimidation being the biggest—they really find it difficult to talk to adults at times. This is especially true with parents. In every home, there is a spiritual battle against authentic communication. Let’s face it—the devil doesn’t want parents and teens to truly open their hearts to each other.
But strong families resist this battle and conquer it. On the other side of the mountain of silence is a fertile meadow of healthy hearts. It’s a deliberate journey to get there, but it’s worth the effort. There isn’t a much sweeter experience in life than open, honest, heart-full communication between a parent and teen. When you have it, you gain a deep, satisfactory sense that this is what God intended in a family.
Malachi 4:6 teaches, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers…” In an effort to turn your heart toward your children, I wanted to share the results of a simple survey I did with our students several years ago. These statements and quotes came from faithful Christian adults who grew up in godly homes and in our youth group. The quotes below is what they shared about why they stayed faithful God. This list is what your teens think, whether they tell you or not; and it’s a great place to start a conversation:
1. I know whether you are faking it or not. (Contradiction is extremely confusing.) Amazingly, teens can see straight through us. They know our hearts, they constantly evaluate our motives, our spirit, and our life. If it’s consistent, then they accept our faith as real. If not, then they struggle with the conflict and often reject our faith outright.
Quote: “The teens are encouraged to read their Bibles and I am sure some of them have never seen their parents even pray outside of church.”
Quote: “I don’t think my parents ever contradicted themselves. They live honest lives, which makes it easy to trust them.”
Quote: “Honestly, I can’t remember my parents ever faking it. They were very open and honest with me.”
2. I need to talk openly with you about our faith. (Make sense of my faith.) Teens have questions. That doesn’t automatically make them rebels. They simply need to make a legitimate connection between God’s principles and real life. Many parents see this as the church’s responsibility. And, in part, it is. But every parent must help their teens see the common sense behind God’s eternal truth.
Quote: “My parents were great at this – especially my dad. He would always be bringing up different spiritual issues and explaining to me why we believed it. Sometimes he would bring up different arguments that unsaved people give about some of the things we believe, and he would explain to us why these arguments were wrong.”
Quote: “I never had to bring up a conversation about God or what we believed. My parents were always using every chance they got to expound on why we believe what we believe- there’s a spiritual moral to everything in life.”
Quote: “I grew up in a great church with great Bible preaching (that left few holes to be filled). I didn’t go to my parents often with questions about our faith, but when I did, I receive a Bible answer.”
3. I’m thinking about the opposite sex, and I’m curious about sexual issues. (But don’t make me bring it up.) Between the awakening of hormones and the onslaught of a godless culture, this is a very critical dynamic of youth. As parents, we want to bury our heads in the sand and hope we won’t have to talk about these things. Big mistake!
It seems everybody is talking to kids about sex today—except parents! How we need to reverse that model! Your teenager should have an open door, any time, to speak directly with you about sensitive, sexual issues. And he/she should get a clear, biblical, and understandable answer. Give them the truth, and they will be able to resist a world of lies. Fail to give them the truth—they will most likely buy the lies.
Sad Quote: ” I think the first time my dad and I talked about sexual issues was a month before I got married… maybe it was awkward for him too.”
Quotes? There weren’t any others—because most parents don’t talk about these things.
Be sure to stay tuned for parts two and three of this series.