Be Unpredictable With Your Teen

One of the challenges of writing a parenting book is that advice can be taken out of context, that is one of the reasons I created the Parenting with the End in Mind Facebook Group.  I wanted to be able to discuss exceptions with readers. For example, when dealing with a three-year-old, consistency is essential. With a preadolescence, you may have to do something completely unexpected to get her attention. You will want to shake the smug “I got you figured-out” expression off her face.

There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1 HCSB)

Last year it may have been appropriate to send your misbehaving child to another room; younger children generally want to be near their parent. Now, that may be the completely wrong tactic. Because:

  1. She wanted to be away from the family.
  2. Isolation from you makes her peer influence stronger.
  3. Satan may feed her mind with, “See even your own family can’t stand to be around you.”

When you were a teen, did you think that your parents cared more about your room, your chores, your grades, than about you?  It is probable that you need to take a break from improving your child, to focus on enjoying your child. This change will throw her off balance, flip the script, do the unexpected and improve your relationship. When there is mutual respect again, you may find the conflicts over chores and attitudes lessens automatically.

I realize that the following ideas will require mental and emotional toughness. Parenting is hard and your life may have been easier when she just stayed in her room. Yes, it may appear that you are rewarding bad behavior, but you are paying it forward.  When you work on the relationship, you are planting seeds of good will.  Also, do not expect immediate results, your goal is to recapture your child’s heart; not get a couple of behaviors changed.  Ask God’s guidance as to the right variation of these ideas for your specific child.

  1. Start hanging out in her room when she is in there.

Go into her room without complaining or saying anything negative. Begin doing an activity that you normally do in the family room. As an explanation, “I miss being with you. I thought, why should you always have to come to me to hangout.” Do not initiate any conversation.  Your attitude is I am happy just being near you. Expect skepticism, she knows you. You don’t like to be with her, you just like to gripe at her. She will provoke you, so respond with “I was remembering when you used to ____ while I did this. I believe we can make more good memories.” Seize opportunities to join her routine, without making any demands. The break through you are watching for is:

  1. She makes her bed so you are more comfortable when you come in.
  2. She starts telling you about her life without you asking a question.
  3. She chooses to be with you in another room of the house.
  1. Surprise him by taking him out to get a snack like wings or a hamburger.

Watch for occasions to have him alone with you in the car, preferably not on the same day of the week. Try not to create a predictable pattern in the beginning. Do not take the food home. Eat in the car, at the restaurant, or at a park. Do expect him to say thank you, do not expect him to talk, do not expect him to put down his phone, do not use your phone, and do not stare at him.  Just be available to him, use the silence for prayer, use the silence to make a mental list of all the things like about him. Make sure that any words that you say do not have any sarcasm, criticism, or advise.  It is working when:

  1. You become more important than the food or phone.
  2. When he laughs at your jokes.
  3. When realizes, he is more important to you than his school work, or team practice.
READ  God’s Judgment, Grace, and Mercy Are Revealed in Miracles

When our children are young, we express our love in hugs and words. As they get older, we express our love in acceptance and time. In their attempt to determine who they are, they may reject us temporarily. But when we stay available to them, they will return relationally just like the younger son does in Luke 15:21-23. However, if they believe that behavior is all that really matters to us, then they may become like the older son- never really having a relationship with us at all. Can you imagine living with someone for twenty years all the while never knowing who they were?  Can you imagine living with someone for twenty years all the while never knowing who they were? Click To Tweet