18 Ways to show your teen you are thankful for them
Based on the article by Kris Bales (Operation: Parent)
1. Advise when asked. There will be times your teen will come to you to fix a problem. But generally, only offer advice if they ask for it. Be sparing. Too much advice can feel like judgment to a teen. Listen to them when they talk to you – really listen, don’t just nod along. Sometimes it’s just as important to hear what they aren’t saying as it is to hear the actual words.
2. Look at them. I am guilty of doing other things while listening to my kids, which means I’m not giving them my undivided attention. Sometimes, our kids need us to look at them when they talk so they know that they are the most important thing to us in that moment.
3. Talk & Laugh. Spend time talking with your teens. Tell them about your day, about what life was like when you were their ages, what you’re struggling with. Laughing together is a great feeling that creates security and trust. Find a way to laugh with (not at!) your teen!
4. Say yes. Sometimes it’s easy to say no without really thinking about the request. Give your teens some freedom, let them take (reasonable) risks, and give them a chance to make their own choices.
5. Say no. They may be teens and they may be morphing into adults, but teens still need boundaries. Provide them, with love.
6. Respect their struggles. Sometimes those things our teens are struggling with seem so insignificant in comparison to our adult struggles, but it’s all a matter of perspective. Their struggles are very real and very important to them. Remind yourself, when your child is stressing about something that seems trivial to you, that it’s not trivial to them. Respect what they’re going through.
7. Spend time with them. I have been amazed at how much my teens (well, two teens and one almost-teen) have enjoyed our one-on-one breakfast dates. They love spending time with me without distractions – and a good breakfast probably doesn’t hurt! Of course, breakfast is only one of many ways to spend time with your teenager. Invite Them Along – Ask them to accompany you on your walk or outing to the store. They may never say yes, but simply being asked could mean a lot.
8. Give them space. Sometimes teens just need some space – some quiet time alone to think, read, play music, whatever. Make sure they’ve got somewhere they can go to be alone when they need to be. If you have kids who share a bedroom, you may need to put some ground rules in place for siblings.
9. Remember that they’re still kids. They may look like adults, be facing adult decisions, and, at least part of the time, act like adults, but they aren’t adults yet. Keep that in mind when they make foolish decisions, act immature, or just need your reassurance.
10. Encourage their interests. Give your teens a chance to explore their interests. Whenever possible, let them take classes or get involved in their church and community. The teen years are a time of figuring out their gifts and talents and how those are going to factor into their future. Don’t always be their reality check. You know that relative who always feels the need to be the voice of reason? Don’t be that person. Let your kids dream big. You never know what God has called them to do. Don’t squash their God-sized dreams even when they seem impossible to you.
11. Give them responsibilities. We do our kids a disservice when we don’t give them responsibilities. I can be guilty of this. However, kids really need to feel like they have something worthwhile to contribute to their family’s well-being. One way to show love for our teens is to prepare them for life outside of our homes. Teach them the skills they’ll need to manage their own homes, such as cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and balancing a checkbook.
12. Hug them. Teens still need physical affection, too. Just maybe not in front of their friends. They might not want a full bear hug like when they were 5, but keep the physical touch going. A pat on the back for a job well done, ruffling their hair or gently squeezing their arm – little demonstrations of affection go a long way.
13. Let them suffer the consequences. Sometimes kids make poor choices and it’s hard, as a parent, to watch them suffer the consequences. However, sometimes suffering those consequences is a very important part of learning and growing into an adult. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re a terrible parent if you don’t bail your kid out every time he/she makes a mistake.
14. Don’t give them everything. We want to make our kids happy, but giving them everything doesn’t make them happy. It only creates a sense of entitlement – something that is far too prevalent in today’s culture.
15. Get to know their friends. One of the most loving things you can do for your kids is getting to know their friends. As our kids get older, their friends often hold much more influence over them than we do. Make sure you know who they’re hanging out with.
16. Show them. Let your actions show your teen you love her. Leave her notes telling her how amazing you think she is. Ruffle his hair or pat his shoulder as you walk by. Make their favorite meals.
17. Tell them. Our teens still need to hear the words, “I love you.” Nobody ever outgrows that. Even if they roll their eyes or refuse to reply. Say it. Every day.
18. Respect their privacy. Teens can become very self-conscious creatures. Don’t post their photos on Facebook or your blog without asking first. Knock on their door. Don’t expect them to tell you everything.