Connecting with your teen in a disconnected world

Have you ever started a conversation with your teen, and you begin sharing some exciting news, or ask them questions about their day, but get no response? It is at that point you realize they are not ignoring you, they just haven’t heard you because their ears are filled with little buds of music while they drift off to another world. By the time you get their attention, you forget what you were going to say!

That’s happened to me just a time or two.  I want so desperately to know what is happening in the heads of my teens. What are their struggles, triumphs, joys, concerns, or fears? Do they have close friends they can confide in? Do they struggle to fit in? Have they been put down or made fun of? Do they feel left out without having a girlfriend/boyfriend?  My mom heart wants to know more about their life. I’m not sure if we’ve ever been very good within our family to share our thoughts and feelings, but I seem to have a deeper longing lately to know what is truly going on with them.

I’ve prayed about this and am really dedicated to grow the relationship between me and each of my kids. I have always prayed that they would feel comfortable sharing with me whatever it is they are going through. Yet, I feel we don’t get too much beyond some of the surface topics of discussion.

God has given me insight into some ways that have started to work for me, and I pray that you might find some or all of them helpful to you. If you have found other ways to make a connection with your teen, I’d love to hear it. Please share!

3 Ways to Connect with your teen

  1. Get one on one time with them.

I know life is crazy busy, with lists to complete, places to be, people to pick up, food to prepare, etc. etc.! It takes effort to be intentional about finding some of those little moments you can get one on one time. Here are some ways I’m finding time to be with my teens. I know the time is short, they will be out of my house before I know it, sniff, sniff! Even if it is just one of these each week with each kid, it’s something!

  • Give them a ride to a practice or lesson even if they are able to drive themselves – just so you can spend time with them.
  • Spend extra time at bedtime just hanging out and sitting on their bed. Ask questions about their day. Share what happened in your day. I have found that when I have taken time to just hang out, without a list of items they need to accomplish, they are much more likely share what is happening in their life.
  • If you need to run an errand, invite one of your kids to go along with you.
  • Play a game with them. Sometimes doing something fun and relaxing with them, helps them realize you enjoy just hanging out with them. My kids begin share a bit more while we are playing a game of scrabble or a favorite card game.
  • Read to them. This is something I did all the time when they were little, but I don’t take the time to do it much anymore. However, that is something I am determined to carve out time for. While they don’t ask me to read, I think they still enjoy it. For Christmas I got them each a book from Lamplighter Publishing. This company finds books that have been out of print, but have a tremendous message and have republished them. I love every book I read from them. They are older, many from the 1800’s, so I am planning to read the books to them. I don’t know if they would read them on their own. I found books for their age, that will help instill and inspire godly morals and values. More so than just hearing me preach about it!

2. Begin a Back and Forth Journal with them.

I am so excited that the Lord reminded me to start doing this again. A few years back, I started this with my daughter as a writing project while we were homeschooling her. I would write notes to her with questions she was to answer. I would ask a wide range of things about her life. She would then answer the questions, and could ask me anything as well. it was amazing to me how much deeper our conversations went when we began to write it down.

I had always intended to do it with my boys as well, but never got it done. However, I did buy a journal for each of them. It is what we use instead of cards for Birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or any other day when we want to encourage and share truth with them. That way all those notes are kept together in a little book they can keep with them.  I had not yet used it as a way to communicate back and forth with them, however.

This last week I decided it was time, and I am amazed at what I learned from my 13-year-old!

Here are the questions I asked:

  1. What is the one thing that makes you the most happy right now?
  2. What is your greatest challenge or struggle right now?
  3. What can I be praying for you for?
  4. Do you have anything else you want to talk to me about or questions you have for me?

Thinking I would need to bribe them with their favorite drink when they returned the journal, I was super surprised and elated when my youngest teen told me he was done writing in it and returned it before me even having to mention the reward. It held the sweetest , most insightful words I could imagine.

He shared with me struggles with his class, that they aren’t getting along and how he wants to try and get along better with them. My son told me how he really doesn’t mean to get so angry with his younger brother, and asked if I could pray that he could be more patient with him. He said how thankful he was that we don’t yell at him while he is playing sports, but just talk to him about the game afterwards. He even shared these words, “Thank you for always being there for me and raising me to love God.” I did not ask him to tell me what he was thankful for. That was a gift from God. God truly is doing a work in that kid! I am blessed and thankful!

I may have to use the drink bribe for my other two teens, as I see the journals are still sitting on their desks. But I am so excited for this way to connect with them!

3. Pray

Most importantly, pray for them and with them. Pray for God to open up their hearts to Himself and to you. Pray for him to help you carve out that time to spend with them. Pray that they would desire to have a relationship with you. Pray that the Lord would show you what will work to connect with your teen. Pray that your heart would be softened and open to what it is they are in need of and what would help them feel comfortable in opening up and sharing that with you.

Praying for you to connect with you teen and establish a loving relationship with him or her. Blessings to you my friend!

connecting with your teen

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8 thoughts on “Connecting with your teen in a disconnected world”

  1. This post brought me to happy tears, Susie. I love the idea of a journal, and especially what your son has shared with you, how he opened up. I was just thinking of doing a girl outing, but wasn’t sure what to do, I think we will go journal shopping for ourselves and big brother! 😉

    1. I’m so happy the Lord moved me to do this and that it was so effective for that middle child! I pray that you will have fun picking out a journal and that the Lord will bless you with great conversations with it!

    2. Thank you for this encouragement to spur my mommy heart on! I too have learned to seize opportunities (especially late night ones, even when I want to go to bed!) and I need to be intentional about one-on-one ‘date nights’. My struggle is that when they do need time, they start lashing out and my heart just doesn’t want to connect with that! “Oh, Lord, give us patience to hear their need and respond. In gentleness. Teens are precious in Your sight!”

      1. You have been so good with those one-on-one date nights. It is hard at night, I am tired and just want to tune out – but that’s when they seem prime to want to talk! I’m glad we can spur each other on in these precious years!

  2. I remember starting a journal when my daughter was younger but I don’t think it made it past one round. As I read this it came to mind that I could do a google doc shared with her and journal back and forth.
    Another note as far as connecting with teens, I show up with them to lift weights or rebound their baskets. It doesn’t always work with older teens but the younger ones don’t mind yet 🙂 thanks for the tips!

    1. Yes, you are good at hanging out with them in the gym – that’s where they are, I love that! An electronic journal is a great idea. That would be awesome to stay connected to your young married daughter!

  3. Susie- I just found your blog… I love it. I am going to start a journal also. I’ve been trying to be intentional with my one on one time with all 5 kids, but it’s so hard. There is not a lot of time to get to deeper conversations. Such a simple thing to do. I am starting today!!!!

    1. That’s awesome Jenny! It is so hard to find that time with each of them. I hope it goes well for you. I haven’t been real consistent with it – but my goal is to get it back and forth 2 times a month. It doesn’t take that long, I just need to take make the effort to do it. Part of the reason I do this blog is to keep myself accountable! I can have the best intentions, but then don’t carry them out!

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