Connecting Parents to Students
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
The Bible is clear that our goal as parents should be to raise our kids in such a way that they will be lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ. It is a simple goal that we should all easily agree with. The reality is that parenting is one of the hardest things you will ever do. Parenting can feel like a roller coaster. There will be times that you wonder if you and your teenager are even speaking the same language!
Summer is a wonderful opportunity for you to connect with your student. There is more time for you to spend intentional time with your students, so here are some tips on how you can better connect with them. What I hope to do in this post is give you a few practical ideas that you can do to connect with your teenager. This list is not meant to be exhaustive. The important thing is that you are doing something to cultivate a relationship with your teenager. While it won’t be easy, it will be rewarding, and it will be worth it.
Eat dinner together with no distractions.
In a world where life moves so fast, and our calendars are full, the dinner table has become a forgotten commodity. The dinner table is one of the best ways to slow life down and be together. Eating dinner together is one of the best times to have meaningful conversations. Conversations can range from discussing your day to discussing spiritual matters. Fathers are called to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). The instruction of a father and the teaching of a mother are described in the Proverbs as a graceful garland for their head and pendant for their neck (Proverbs 1:8-9). One of the best times to engage in family worship is around the dinner table. My family loves flowing from dinner into family worship. The opportunities are endless! One warning is in order, though. Distractions can derail what you are trying to accomplish at the dinner table. If the TV is on, or everyone is on their phones, you are no longer together. Turn off the TV, turn off the phones, and have some great conversations.
Take interest in what they are interested in.
I know. This one will be hard for you. But when you take an interest in something that your teenager is interested in, you will see your relationship grow quickly. Teenagers want to know that you care, and one of the best ways to communicate that you do care is by being interested in what they are interested in. The Bible tells us that we should count others as more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). When we count others as more significant than ourselves, we have the same mind as Jesus (Philippians 2:5). We can imitate Jesus by caring about what our teens care about. Don’t just dismiss what your teens are interested in but ask questions. Research it on your own time. While I don’t have a teenager, my son has things he is interested in. I don’t particularly care to play video games, but I have played more Madden in the last two years than I ever have in my life. It is a great time to connect. Take the time and become interested in what they are interested in and watch your relationship grow.
Spend one-on-one intentional time with them.
Spending one-on-one time with your teenager is a very easy way to build depth in your relationship. Teenagers often will not be very open at home or around other people, but when you get them one-on-one, they will open up. Ask them questions that get them talking. Ask them what their fears are. Ask them how their relationships are going. Ask them how their relationship with Jesus is going. Let them ask you questions. Do your best to hear them out and not default to helping them fix their problems. The Bible says that we should be quick to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19). Use this one-on-one time to hear from your teen. This time together is an amazing opportunity to build depth and closeness in your relationship with your teenager. Invite them to run errands with you. Go out to dinner together. Find a hobby you can do together. My son and I love going to look at sports cards. Just do something where you can focus on building a relationship with your teenager away from the hustle and bustle of life.
Apologize when you mess up.
One of the best ways you can connect with your teenager is to have the humility to admit when you are wrong. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” When we mess up, we should ask for our teenagers’ forgiveness. This is not the most fun thing in the world to do, but it is needed. If you do not ask your teenagers for forgiveness when you mess up, you are placing unnecessary barriers between you and your teenager. Teenagers are very sensitive when things are unjust against them. Holding them to a standard you are not upholding is not a loving way to build a strong relationship with your teenager. When you mess up, tell them how you messed up and ask them to forgive you.
In closing, I want to remind you that building a relationship with your teenager is not something you can do passively. It takes action. If you want a good relationship with your teenager, you are going to have to step outside your comfort zone and engage them where they are. As uncomfortable as it may be, the results will be totally worth it. 3 John 4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” While John is referring to his spiritual children, we can have the same joy when our children at home are walking in the truth. I am praying for you as you seek to point your children to Jesus.